Commuters with smartphones in Tokyo can access information on car crowd levels and temperatures with the Train Net web browser and mobile app, thanks to a recent partnership between Japan Rail and Mitsubishi.
Train Net is currently only available through Nov. 2 on one Yamanote line train -- one of Tokyo's busiest lines -- while they test the service. Train Net provides individual car and railway information, like temperature, train delays and where to switch trains through its own on-board Wi-Fi network.
"For the information about crowding rates, rather than installing sensors for this trial, we've used the weight sensors that are already attached to each carriage in a train," Mitsubishi's Junichi Kimura says. "Those sensors are used to control the brakes when a train stops. We've converted the information from those brake sensors into the crowding rate data displayed here."
LAUNCH has contacted Japan Rail and Mitsubishi about the status of the trial run and will update this story if we receive a response.
The service also offers web magazines, manga comics, and location-based services like recommendations for shops, restaurants and deals nearby. Train Net is also experimenting with advertisements.
"We're testing whether this medium can be used for promotions, by providing information that couldn't be included in conventional commercials," Junichi says.
Tokyo commuters can download Train Net from the App store or from Android Marketplace. Users can visit the Train Net website to determine the exact location of the train.
Commuters can access delay information, routes and connections, real-time temperature data, downloadable books and videos and more.
Crowd and temperature information.