Network Rail Engages Passengers with Augmented Reality

UK: Network Rail has started using an augmented reality (AR) app to allow passengers to visualise replacement footbridges at stations.

The app, ARki, is the product of Darf Design, whose founder is Sahar Fikouhi. By using augmented reality, Network Rail can engage with passengers while building footbridges during, and after, Control Period 6.

Anthony Dewar, Professional Head of Buildings and Architecture, Network Rail, said:

“The app will give our customers a glimpse of their future station, using new technology to give a level of detail we’ve never provided before. As well as keeping local people informed of changes to their station, it provides a fitting, high-tech showcase for our exciting new footbridge designs.”

ARki takes architectural design files and the video footage of a smartphone to display 3D images of buildings in their planned positions. It became available on the Apple store for iOS devices from 16 October. ARki now also includes Network Rail footbridges. As an AR gallery of architectural designs, users can engage with the story behind the designs via the ARki app. Consequently, any confusion behind the design and construction process is cleared up. ARki showcases new projects from a range of people, including real estate developers, architects and public authorities.

Sahar Fikouhi, Darf Design Founder and ARki Developer, said:

“Our vision is to allow designers to share their 3D models in the real world. It’s very rare for the public to have this access to genuine architects’ drawings and this is one of the first examples of one-to-one scale visualisations of future projects. The app is helping to democratise the way structures are designed and built by giving the public this access at early stages of design selection.”

How AR will assist Network Rail in unveiling new-generation footbridges

Network Rail is revealing its new generation of footbridges. Using AR will help passengers and communities see these future changes early on, during the design phase. The new generation includes three new designs. The designs bring a better quality and will replace the current model in the close future. These designs are:

  • The Beacon – A glazed bridge with adjoining lift towers.
  • The Ribbon –  This design includes a floating canopy above the track, stair rotations and a thirty-degree lift. It is an updated version of the standard arched footbridge.
  • The Frame – Created by the Danish Gottlieb Paludan Architects, this minimalist design is both practical and flexible in design. Unsurprisingly, it won the Network Rail and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) footbridge design competition in 2018. It was in competition with 120 other entries from 19 countries.


Beacon design footbridge
Network Rail’s new Beacon design

Network Rail wants to showcase its three new designs to the largest-possible audience. It says this app is the perfect vehicle for the job.

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