A smartphone app that records bumps, bangs and vibration data on trains has the potential to improve train ride comfort and railway safety, says a study.
The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Built Environment, showed that accelerometers found in modern smartphones are good enough to be used in measuring ride comfort.
“Our research opens the door for many opportunities, allowing passengers to provide instant feedback on the comfort of their journey and equipping railway companies with information they can use to further improve ride comfort for passengers,” said Sakdirat Kaewunruen from University of Birmingham in Britain.
“There is also potential for this technology to be used to detect track faults and indicate which sections of track are in need of maintenance, possibly saving on maintenance costs and improving the safety of the railway,” Kaewunruen pointed out.
In the study, the researchers used a specially designed smartphone app to record vibration data from a train running on a test track, comparing the information gathered to a reference accelerometer.
They discovered that the technology used in modern smartphones is more than good enough to measure ride comfort aboard trains.
The researchers noted that mobile technology develops at a high rate and future smartphones would have higher quality accelerometers than those used in the experiment.