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CMU Releases Android Version of Tiramisu Transit App
November 28, 2011

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.

“With the release of the Android version, Tiramisu now can be used with the vast majority of smartphones on the market,” said Aaron Steinfeld, a senior systems scientist in the Robotics Institute. “That’s critical for a crowdsourcing app such as Tiramisu because users are its most important source of information. It becomes more helpful as more people use it.”

Last month, 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. Scott Belcher, president and CEO of ITS America, said Tiramisu “is a great example of how technology can be used to cost-effectively create a safer, more effective transportation network.”

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 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.

Since Tiramisu’s initial deployment this summer, the team has refined the app to reduce consumption of battery power and to make the interface faster and easier to use.

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. It draws on expertise and resources from across the campus to stimulate a broad community partnership to identify, refine and deploy “intelligent transportation system” technology advancements to the Pittsburgh region’s transportation system. 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.

In addition to the project website, www.tiramisutransit.com/, Tiramisu information is available on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. The Robotics Institute, Institute for Software Research and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute are part of the School of Computer Science.


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