AI cameras tested at station in Kyoto to identify people with disabilities in bid to assist

A security camera in Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture, is seen in this Jan. 25, 2018 file photo. (Mainichi/Yusuke Kato). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KYOTO, Apr 1, 2021, The Mainichi. A railway company and an information technology firm in west Japan are jointly conducting a test on artificial intelligence cameras at a train station in this city to identify visually impaired people and wheelchair users to notify station staff in real time if assistance is required, The Mainichi reported.

The test is being conducted at Gion-shijo Station in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward by Keihan Electric Railway Co. and Apprhythm Inc., both headquartered in the city of Osaka. As Keihan hasn’t been tallying the number of passengers with disabilities — because some of them take trains without station workers’ assistance — the company aims to assess the actual situation and use the test results to offer a safer and more comfortable service.

For the test, four AI cameras have been installed in the ceiling above 11 automatic ticket gates. They collected images until the end of March so that AI can learn to identify white cane users and wheelchair users passing through ticket gates, and learning from the images repeatedly is expected to improve the AI’s accuracy.

The companies are building the system in the meantime to start sending real-time notifications to station employees’ smartphones and the station’s computers from April. Railway employees are positioned on Gion-shijo Station’s platform throughout the day except for early in the morning and late at night, and the system will allow the workers to easily talk to passengers with disabilities and assist them immediately if necessary.

About 56,000 passengers pass through Gion-shijo Station a day, the highest figure among Keihan’s stations in Kyoto Prefecture. Keihan Railway considers Gion-shijo Station as an “information and communication technology model spot” as it allows for the collection of data on a range of passengers due to the sheer volume of tourists and commuters who use the station.

(Japanese original by Yasuhiro Okawa, Kyoto Bureau)

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