Depth cameras and computer vision have this week been rolled out at Wynyard Station in Sydney, in an effort to reduce platform crowding and cut the time it takes for trains to load and unload passengers.\n \nSydney Trains announced the start of the trial of Dwell Track today, which uses the same core technology as is found in the now-defunctKinect accessory for Xbox.\n \nThe aim is to minimise what is known as the train\u2019s \u2018dwell time\u2019 \u2013 the time it needs to stops at each station to allow passengers to board and alight, and the biggest variable affecting whether a commuter train is able to stay on schedule.\n \nSixteen Ethernet connected depth cameras have been installed along the length of Wynyard\u2019s platform three, which fire an irregular pattern of dots from an infrared projector at waiting passengers.\n \nSupplied: Sydney Trains\nAn infrared camera then captures the pattern and sends it to a processor to work out depth from the displacement of the dots \u2013 which are more spread out close to the camera, and denser on objects further away.\nThe system then applies computer vision techniques in order to identify people in the footage, by constructing a \u2018Head-to-Shoulder Signature\u2019 nicknamed by its developers as \u2018the two watermelons\u2019.\nSupplied: Sydney Trains\nAs people\u2019s movements are tracked along the platform, the system detects what Sydney Trains called the \u201chot spots and friction points\u201d of overcrowding.\nThis data is combined with API feeds of carriage weight \u2013 indicative of how full a carriage is \u2013 and accessed by platform marshals via a tablet so they can distribute people more evenly along the platform and move them away from crowded carriage doors.\n \nSupplied: Sydney Trains\nSupplied: Sydney Trains\n\u201cThis could be a technological solution to a very human problem. Customers often become creatures of habit and wait at the same spot at train platforms, without realising that by moving down the platform they are more likely to board faster and find a less populated carriage,\u201d said New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance.\n\u201cThe amount of time a train is stationary at a platform while people alight and board is a major factor in whether customers reach their destination on-time. Precise mapping of crowd behaviour and what we call \u2018train dwell times\u2019 will help us improve systems to manage customers and make sure they get where they need to go,\u201d he added.\nSydney Trains said if the trial was successful, Dwell Track could be made available to staff via a downloadable mobile app.\n \nThe Dwell Track system has been developed by researchers at UTS working with the Rail ManufacturingCooperative Research Centre and railway engineering group Downer Rail. It was demonstrated at the CeBIT technology exhibition in Sydney last year and has been tested previously at Brisbane Central, Town Hall and Redfern stations.\nPotentially the system could be hooked up to red, amber and green \u2018traffic lights\u2019 along the platform so people can see for themselves the best spot to wait. \nAlways looking at new ways to improve\nThe trial continues Sydney Trains\u2019 effort to reduce delays and improve customer service with technology. In May last year, the network introduced real-time train occupancy data \u2013 based on carriage weight readings \u2013 on Waratah trainsvia an app. Since earlier this year carriage occupancy indicators have also been displayed on screens at certain Sydney stations.\n \nDowner Group has also rolled out a data analytics and machine learning platform to Sydney\u2019s fleet of Waratah trains which captures data from trains and predicts the remaining life of components to better schedule maintenance.\n\u201cWith more than 1.4 million customer journeys a day, we are always looking at new ways to improve our customers\u2019 experience. We have already had great success with our Fast Track Teams and are also exploring a range of cutting edge technology initiatives, including CCTV data modelling,\u201d said Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins.\n \n\u201cWe look forward to seeing the outcomes of these trials in the coming months,\u201d he added.\n \nIn 2017\/18 Sydney Trains provided 359.2 million customer journeys, up from 81.2 million customer journeys five years prior.