As students who are dependent on public transportation, we realized how annoying public transport can be sometimes. We often have our hands full with bags, books and keys and it becomes difficult to pull out our bus passes in time and avoid congestion while boarding the bus. Not to mention, there are ridiculous fines if you forget to tap your Presto card when boarding the GO Train or GO Bus. Something had to change!
What it does
RideOn allows users to board public transportation without having to pull out passes of any kind. The user can simply walk on. They will automatically be charged.
How we built it
We used Arduino to build circuits that would act as a phone or as a public transportation vehicle. The circuit acting as the vehicle would be listening for signals sent out by approaching passengers, and data sent out by the user would be processed so that the user can be charged and notified. We used mongodb to manage user information, and we processed it with a little bit of python.
Challenges we ran into
Working with hardware, technical issues were abundant. For example, we discovered one of our boards was incompatible with WPA2 enterprise wifi networks, and we also discovered that our RFID transceivers refused to function without capacitors integrated in the circuit. Fortunately, we managed to overcome many of these obstacles and became a positive learning experience.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud of making a functional product made out of technology that was completely unfamiliar to all of us. We all learned a fair bit of hardware and software techniques, and managed to wrap it together in one package.
What I learned
The most important thing that we learned was how to adapt to limitations. For example, our initial plan with some hardware did not work, so we had to adapt and find and alternatives. Even during the quiet hours of night, we were facing new limitations that we had to adapt to rather than solve. While this has limited our project in some ways, we have learned valuable lessons.
What's next for RideOn
Aside from refining the existing technology, we want to implement enhanced security features. The communication is currently not very secure and can be easily intercepted. We also want to be able to find a place for RFID on cell phones, possibly in the form of a chip that never has to be removed.