Smart parking sensors, augmented reality wayfinding and facial recognition security – these were just a few of the ideas selected to participate in Transport for Wales’ (TfW) inaugural accelerator programme, Lab.


Launched in September 2019, the Lab initiative is aimed at uncovering the next customer-focused innovations that could help in delivering outstanding experience for rail passengers. With 70 companies applying to take part, 16 of the best were short-listed to pitch their ideas for a new product or service that could solve a key rail industry challenge to stakeholders and decisionmakers from across TfW Rail and network operator KeolisAmey.


The ten strongest applicants have now been selected to take part in the 12-week accelerator, beginning in January and hosted at TfW’s dedicated innovation lab in Newport. They are:


  • Cleverciti – Manufacturers of overhead smart parking sensors. Its solution unites all aspects of smart parking management technology – including overhead sensors, mobile apps and analytics – into one integrated system.


  • Big Lemon – An end-to-end consumer platform that simplifies passenger journeys and informs them about their full rail experience.


  • Smart Bench – A smart public seating bench solution that improves station and depot environments for passengers and staff. The new seating will provide device and smartphone charging, WiFi, and LDC displays with journey information.


  • Navilens: The Wayfarers – Using augmented reality to help passengers navigate stations more easily, making it a more user-friendly environment.


  • UtterBerry – A sensor system that collects real-time information about train operations, including passenger numbers, necessary repairs and the causes of damage. It can also detect structural changes including displacement and tilt, as well as environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.


  • Brite Yellow Limited – An indoor mapping, wayfinding and asset management solution to help transport operators create intelligent spaces, using augmented and virtual reality, to improve user experience and unlock new revenue.


  • Realtime Knowledge – A digital platform, comprised of workflow management and data capture tools, that focuses on operational safety and security checks and inspections, as well as customer feedback.


  • Hiperview – This platform provides instant customer feedback analysis collated through digital surveys, allowing operators to map journeys and identifying where and why issues have occurred.


  • PassageWay – Transforms connected totems, kiosks and screens into real-time transport and digital wayfinding signs. PassageWay signs display local multi-modal mobility information with real-time updates, enabling operators to push information to both existing and new customers.


  • TouchByte – A customer analytics and recognition solution, that uses Face Recognition technology to improve productivity and reduce costs. It helps to increase knowledge and data around passenger numbers, movements and visiting locations, as well as assisting with the identification of ‘Persons of Interest’ and boosting security.


Michael Davies, insight and innovation manager at TfW, said: “We’ve been so impressed with the high calibre of ideas that have been pitched to us over this stage of the programme, making our job of selecting the best ten extremely tough. It really is testament to the quality of innovative thinkers that we can find in Wales and around our borders that we’ve had so many applications. While the Lab offers a chance to celebrate this local talent, importantly it also presents the opportunity to develop and fast track any new ideas that can make a meaningful difference to passenger experience across our network.”


“The 12-week accelerator programme will commence in January, and by April we will be able to demonstrate ten fantastic ideas that have formed into minimal viable products and can then be tested with staff and customers. We are in the process of identifying some key stakeholders to help support the programme, so if you see an idea that falls within your area and you’re happy to help support them over the project, please get in touch.”


The winning teams will be awarded a contract to fully develop their new solution, which will then be rolled out across the Wales and Borders rail network, operated by KeolisAmey.


KeolisAmey took over as operator of rail services for Wales and Borders in 2018. It is now at the heart of the delivery of transformational new rail services across Wales, working with TfW to upgrade existing infrastructure, electrify key lines and introduce new trains to enhance the passenger experience.


Alistair Gordon, CEO of Keolis UK, said: “The ideas showcased at Transport for Wales’ Lab programme will help to create a step-change in how the industry approaches the physical and digital passenger experience. The initiative forms a core part of our commitment to working with TfW to deliver a rail network for Wales that is underpinned by the latest technology, delivering the best possible service to its customers.


“As global leaders in shared mobility, we know that the innovations developed through the programme have the potential to benefit passengers worldwide, so we’re excited to see how these ideas evolve over the coming weeks.”


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