Augmented Reality App Brings New York’s Subway Maps To Life

Augmented Reality App Brings New York’s Subway Maps To Life

Tunnel Vision draws on information from the MTA and the NYC Open Data initiative to tell a story about modern life in the city.

Carib Guerra
  • 29 may 2014

With 8.3 million people from every social and cultural background, living and working together in just over 300 square miles, it’s safe to say that New York City is a wildly diverse place. There’s one thing that practically everybody in the city has in common. At some point or another, they will ride the subway. Inspired by the integral part public transportation plays in the city and the lives of its inhabitants, Bill Lindmeier created Tunnel Vision for his thesis project at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


Tunnel Vision is an augmented reality app that allows users to experience the city’s analog subway maps with a new level of depth and interactivity. Thanks to programs like NYC Open Data, a platform that provides the public with access to a huge amount of data gathered by New York City agencies, Bill was able to choose relevant statistical information and use it to create a narrative around modern life in New York. When reached for comment regarding the concept and goals of his project, Bill explained that:

Riding the subway is such an integral part of life in New York that I decided to make that a cornerstone of this project. It’s an aspect of the city that touches many others. Using the MTA map was attractive because it’s so iconic and has a distinctive visual language. I wanted to piggyback on the connection that people already have with that image and extend it with something unexpected. By asking people to use the app in a subway station, there’s a baked-in context that can bring additional relevance to the data.

When a user points their phone at a subway map, they’ll see an interactive visual layer of data – like the average turnstile activity of a given day and time, the median income or population density of neighborhoods, or the estimated positions of each train according to the MTA’s official schedule.

As for future plans, Bill says that he’d “love to incorporate more data with varied visual treatments, and possibly extend it to other cities.” Check out the video below to see Tunnel Vision in action.

Tunnel Vision

[h/t] FastCo Design

+augmented reality
+data visualization

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