Carnegie Mellon University has released an Android version of Tiramisu, the smartphone application that enables transit riders in Allegheny County to share real-time information about bus schedules and seating. It is available for download at the Android Market.
The original iPhone version of Tiramisu was released this summer. Thus far, users have recorded more than 10,000 trips on the Port Authority of Allegheny County transit system. Tiramisu was one of three projects recognized by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America in the innovative products, services or applications category of its annual Best of ITS Awards.
Tiramisu — literally, Italian for “pick me up” — was developed by researchers in the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC-APT), supported by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research with additional assistance from CMU’s Traffic21 initiative. It currently works only for the Port Authority and CMU systems, but the software architecture is designed so that it can be deployed to other transit systems.
Even before a user boards a vehicle, Tiramisu displays the nearest stops and a list of buses or light rail vehicles that are scheduled to arrive. The list includes arrival times, based either on real-time reports from current riders, or, when no rider is currently sharing a GPS trace, on historic rider data or on the transit schedule. Once aboard, the user indicates whether many, few or no seats are available and then presses a button, allowing the phone to share an ongoing GPS trace with the Tiramisu server. Tiramisu also can be used to report problems, positive experiences and suggestions.
The Tiramisu development team is led by Aaron Steinfeld, co-director of RERC-APT; Anthony Tomasic, senior systems scientist in the Institute for Software Research; and John Zimmerman, associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the School of Design.
Tiramisu is among the initial projects to reach deployment with help from the Traffic21 initiative, which was created by Carnegie Mellon with support from the Hillman Foundation. The goal is for the region to become internationally recognized as the place for “smart transportation,” thus attracting further investment in both research and commercialization.