The last full-scale shift in control theaters happened in the early 1980’s with the transition from mechanical “model board” track layouts to digital displays. These digital displays had a dramatic effect on control center layouts, as well as on how train dispatchers did their jobs. Over the past 30 years there have been incremental improvements to control center display technology, such as mouse inputs, high-resolution displays, more powerful computers, and processor virtualization. None of these improvements, however, caused a paradigm shift in control center design or operation.
Augmented Reality has the potential to dramatically alter control center design and operations. Macro, a leading rail, transit and public safety systems engineering consultancy has been awarded an IDEA grant to create and test a proof-of-concept of a Train Dispatcher Software Interface that uses Augmented Reality. This interface will use the Microsoft HoloLens Augmented Reality hardware, an open-source train dispatching simulator, and a Modified Augmented Reality Interface platform currently being piloted for Air Traffic Control.