The Android operating system (OS) has not only made our phones smarter. It is the download application or apps for things like travelling and food, among others, that have made our lives much simpler.
(From left) Vaibhav Mirashi, Vaibhav Tamkhede, lecturer Nikhil Parmar, HoD Dr S G Kolte, Rajesh Vaishnav and Sushil Shinde
Exploiting this user-friendly aspect of the Android apps, four students from the KJ Somaiya Polytechnic built an application that will help Mumbaikars avoid time-consuming, serpentine queues outside ticket windows at railway stations during peak hours.
It took eight months for Rajesh Vaishnav, Vaibhav Mirashi, Sushil Shinde and Vaibhav Tamkhede to conceptualise and build the Android Suburban Ticketing Application (ASTA), which they claim can help Android phone users to avail of tickets within a minute, and that too without an internet connection on the handset.
Working on the concept, the quartet produced a box that can be placed at any railway station and connects to Android handsets via bluetooth. ASTA is the connecting link between the handset and the box. Once passengers enter the station premises, all they have to do is connect their handsets with the box using bluetooth.
As soon as the connection is established, a passenger will have to type the station at which they are and the desired destination. Within seconds, they will receive an automated message comprising details of their journey, ticket price, number of passengers and a barcode. The barcode will ensure that passengers do not fool TTEs whenever they check these tickets.
Power of four
Rajesh Vaishnav, a third-year student at the polytechnic college and one of the project members, said, “We spend at least two to three hours after college to work on our project.
When we showed it to the railway authorities, they said any company wanting to introduce such technology will have to pay the railways and only then the installation process can happen.
They appreciated our work and liked the application. It just takes one second for a phone to connect with the box that will immediately display information of your boarding station. So even if a large crowd tries to connect, it won’t hamper the speed.”
Vaishnav’s project colleague, Vaibhav Mirashi, said that since some of them lacked internet access at home, they would stay in the college to ensure that this did not hamper the project. Sushil Shinde said, “While one of us gave the inputs about the ticket prices to the railway officials, another worked on the bluetooth box.
Others were busy developing the app. This project is a joint effort. Despite having ATVMs and CVMs, people still stand in queues to get tickets. Also, we’ll ensure that our project isn’t copied by anyone.”
The fourth member of the team, Vaibhav Tamkhade, said, “We are now working on securing the application and other security aspects. Our professor and HoD, Dr S G Kolte, and lecturer Nikhil Parmar helped and guided us.”
'Can get better'
Prabhat Ranjan, chief public relations officer for Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), said, “Yes, some students met us a few months ago with their project on mobile ticketing. The previous article that we had given in newspapers was an expression of interest for consultancy work and not for solution.
The project needs to be glitch-free. They didn’t have a revenue model such as who would want to invest in their work. It was just a college project. Though we discussed the technology, our talks lacked a commercial angle. There’s scope for major improvements, like how to prevent fraud and how to make it more secure. It was a very good college-level project.”
ASTA won the first prize at the state-level technical paper presentation, Anveesha 2014, conducted for diploma students of mechanical, electronics, civil and computer engineering at the KJ Somaiya Polytechnic college on January 27-28.
How it works
>> A commuter will first have to download and install ASTA on their Android handset, which is a one-time procedure
>> Once done, the application will act as the connecting link between the phone and the box
>> The entire process of acquiring ticket then goes offline, as the process requires only bluetooth connectivity