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Augmented reality app aims to improve journeys in Northamptonshire

27 January 2020

Photo of Smart Move totem Smart Move project Northamptonshire

The technology is more associated with Pokemon Go but now Northamptonshire County Council is using augmented reality to help people make journeys more easily in the county.

The Smart Mover app is designed to be intuitive to use, allowing people to understand how to access real time information for public transport, plan a journey and provide a personalised next stop announcement on planned and favourite trips.

The augmented reality element – pioneered by the gaming industry - has been incorporated to help people navigate to bus stops, by holding the phone up, utilising the phone’s camera to ‘look through the phone’ and have directions overlaid on the phone display.

The idea is to encourage people to use alternative transport to cars – helping to reduce traffic congestion. This not only reduces pollution but a free-flowing road network can also help boost the local economy.

Cllr Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for highways and place, said: “This is a great example of how emerging technology can help with service delivery – in this case, modal shift, which is a way of encouraging people to make journeys in a more sustainable way.

“Our roads are getting increasingly congested and using what is known as modal shift – encouraging people to use alternatives to cars – is one of the ways we can improve people’s journeys.

“This is about planning for the future – making sure that we control emissions in our towns and ensuring the transport network doesn’t throttle economic growth.”

Minister for Local Growth, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, said, “Supporting innovation is at the heart of this Government’s commitment to boosting economic growth across the country and ensuring every community has the support and investment it needs to flourish.

“This incredible new app, part of the Smart Move programme backed by £7 million from the Local Growth Fund, exemplifies our vision by taking the technology of the gaming industry and turning it into a must have tool for everyday life which will make people’s daily journeys better and help the environment.”  

The Smart Mover app is part of the wider Smart Move Northamptonshire initiative, which uses technology to manage the road network more efficiently, provide live traffic and travel information, and enable provision of new and better services.

The wide range of activities are being funded through the Local Growth Fund with support from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

Augmented Reality is becoming increasingly prominent as a technology, with more devices and operating systems adopting the technology. Some older devices will not be able to access AR, however the app itself will know this, and simply not allow the user to select the AR option.

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