Travel Tech

One of the latest public transport apps in Switzerland shows the potential for augmented reality in tourism. The app, which is called Departures Switzerland, shows all public transport options in the users surroundings through an augmented reality browser. For users who are looking for the closest and next public transport option, this app provides the option to hold up the phone in the direction of the desired station or stop and the respective destination board will be superimposed over the real world image. Currently the app is available for iPhone and displays:

  • All public transportation stops in Switzerland
  • Trains, trams, buses, ships, cable cars and other forms of transport
  • Departure times
  • All information additionally on a map
  • Real-time information: delays and platform changes
  • A small arrow, which points to the next attainable departure time


The concept of augmented reality in tourism has been around for some time, and has developed into a buzz word. However, commercially viable applications are limited. It has been used in tourism in the context of gamification, or to enhance the tourist experience. Well known augmented reality browsers such as Junaio suffer from a low usability, as screens are often cluttered with information and recognition of objects is limited.  Overall, it is fair to say that augmented reality is still in its infancy.


On the one side the development of AR on smartphones is limited, due to the relatively small screen size of devices. At the same time, many apps lack a valuable use case scenario. The app Departures Switzerland seems to address these concerns. The app can display a real-time update of the public transportation network in Switzerland. This is possible due to the OpenData.ch project, a non governmental organisation, which is set out to make public information available to citizens for free. Thus, the app delivers a real added value for tourists and commuters in Switzerland.


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