Passenger safety: Listening station machine in Japan for the hard of hearing

passenger safety
Listening station machine in Japan for the hard of hearing

A listening self-service kiosk for train passengers with hearing disabilities operated by train operator JR East. photo

© JR East/dpa

“Pipon pipon”: Tokyo is breaking new ground to increase the safety of passengers who are hard of hearing. A machine not only imitates platform announcements and train noises, it also plays videos in sign language.

In the high-tech country of Japan with its aging population, a listening self-service machine for train passengers with hearing problems is being tested. A device installed on the machine and equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) recognizes the announcements and sounds of arriving and departing trains on a platform of the large Ueno station in the capital Tokyo and displays them in written form on a screen. The device, reminiscent of speech bubbles from Japanese manga comics, called “Ekimatope” is intended to improve the safety of passengers with hearing problems, as a spokeswoman for the rail operator JR East said on Tuesday. The artificial word ekimatope is made up of the Japanese word “eki” (railway station) and “onomatopoeia”, the Latin term for imitation of sounds in words.

For example, the Ekimatope device, which will be installed on the beverage vending machine on a platform on the Keihin-Tohoku and Yamanote lines until the middle of this month, mimics the sound of departure with the Japanese characters for “rurururururururu” and the sound of the platform door closing with “pipon pipon”. after. In addition to the text overlay, videos are also played in sign language. The idea for the device developed by the Japanese electronics group Fujitsu came from students at a special school. At the same time, it is intended to promote understanding for the hearing-impaired among people who can hear. After the end of the test phase, it will be checked whether the device will be introduced, the spokeswoman said.


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