This New App Makes The NYC Subway Map Move

And it’s so cool. Point your phone at a boring old subway map and everything starts moving.

1. Here’s how Tunnel Vision works: you download the app on your iPhone, and point the camera at a New York City subway map. Any old map — in the subway station, on your computer, a crumpled tourist map you bought in Times Square.

Once your phone recognizes the map, everything STARTS MOVING. For example, you can see how many people are entering and exiting each subway station right now (using turnstile data).

2. Or you can watch the trains move in real-time.

3. You can also tap to see population density, or median rent at any given stop (these are screenshots of what you see on your phone).

 

William Lindmeier, a student at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications program, developed the app as his master’s thesis, and debuted it at the program’s Spring show on Monday.

The app works by using an augmented reality library (image detection, basically) to recognize a given tile on the subway map, and then calculates and maps each station’s relative location.

4. That means, in the case of my computer, the stations in the Bronx floated off the screen to this cool effect:

The data comes from various sources — the Census, the NYC Open Data initiative, and the MTA, which releases its data feeds basically with the hope that people will make cool things like this. For now, it’s available on iPhone only.

5. Here’s a video of the app in action.

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