VR with eye-tracking and emotion-sensing software deployed to design HS2’s station

WCN Editorial Team 18 Jun 2021 EUROPE TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

HS2, along with design & technology SME CCD Design & Ergonomics and station designer WSP, is developing an easy “wayfinding” for people who will use the new 14-platform of HS2 station at Old Oak Common in north west London every day.

The deployment of virtual reality, eye-tracking and emotion-sensing technology in developing HS2’s station at Old Oak Common provides the potential for these technologies to be used to design other HS2 stations, as well as other buildings that will manage large numbers of people  such as sports venues and concert halls.   

Three sample groups drawn from members of the travelling public will wear VR headsets equipped with eye-tracking and emotion-sensing technology, and enter a virtual version of the new station.

Once the passengers enter the digital virtual reality, they will be asked to navigate their way around Old Oak Common to reach meeting points, platforms and to change between HS2 and Crossrail services with the help of signage featured in the current design.

Furthermore, the team will allocate an additional session to passengers whose mobility is impaired. They will be asked to explore what further assistance they might require to navigate the station.

Eye-tracking technology equipped to VR headsets will check in detail how the eye is drawn around the station’s interior, and if there are any distractions that might seem confusing.

These technologies will be combined with emotion sensing software that will observe the wearer’s facial expressions and monitors heart rate changes caused due to visual stimulus of experiencing the station in virtual reality.  

The data drawn by CCD will allow HS2 and station designers to evaluate and if required, refine designs to aid Old Oak Common passengers efficiently around the 100,000m2 rail interchange station.

The use of these technologies enables station designs to be tested and refined before building starts.

HS2 innovation manager Heather Donald said: “The HS2 super-hub at Old Oak Common is the largest single-build station to be built in the UK. Up to quarter of a million passengers will use it to connect between HS2, Great Western and Elizabeth line trains each day, so it is vital that its design is fine-tuned to deliver a stress-free step change improvement in the passenger experience.

“Informative and clear signage is a prerequisite to ensuring that people using the station and changing between services can move with intuitive ease through OOC . We’ve taken an innovative approach to use cutting edge technology to ensure we have it right years before the station opens.”

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Image: The use of these technologies enables station designs to be tested and refined before building starts. Credit:  High Speed Two Ltd 

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