In 2009, while travelling from Vellore to her hometown Hyderabad, Srisudha Garimella, an M S Software Engineering student of VIT University, Vellore, faced problems in tracking her destination. The route was dark with no lights and the on/off connectivity on the GPRS made it worse.

Srilavanya Paleti, also found herself in the same situation a few days later. Soon, Paleti and Garimella had teamed up to work on an application that could solve such problems faced by travellers.

After two years of dedicated work, they presented their application on 'In-Vehicle Networking Based Services' to experts in India and the US, and much to their joy, their application has received a US patent, granted the first-of-a-kind for this technology.

Value added service to passengers

The application provides a cost-effective value-added service to passengers who are travelling by ships/trains /buses where access to Internet is expensive or not possible.

"The invention basically creates a social networking among passengers who are traveling in a vehicle using wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, SMS, and mobile technologies to provide free useful services," according to K. Ganesan, Director, TIFAC-CORE, VIT University, who extended guidance to Garimella and Paleti for the project.

Garimella explains, "We have built a hardware comprising GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modules with necessary software. These units can be fixed at the top of each compartment of the train. The GPS antenna located outside the compartment roof will then provide the periodic location information. When people want to communicate across compartments, the Wi-Fi systems can be used."

Within the compartment, passengers can communicate using the hardware via Bluetooth.

For the system to work, the passenger will need to switch on the Bluetooth on his mobile, allowing an automatic application download. When the passenger specifies his destination station, the hardware unit will save his mobile number and destination. Thus, he can use all the proposed services until the passenger’s station arrives.

The application offers seven major value-added services.

In the proposed system, a sleeping passenger will get an alert on his mobile when his destination arrives.

The in-vehicle network will also allow an automated pantry system. Passengers will be able to order food through mobile, thus, reducing wastage of food and manpower.

Passengers travelling in the train can also form a social network and play many multi-player games.

Srisudha Garimella, 26, is currently working as a senior developer with Sapient, a Bangalore-based technology multinational. Srilavanya Paleti, 26, is currently employed with Schneider Electrics, Bangalore.