Monday, March 18, 2013

Smart Phone App Released!

We have developed a new smart phone application - the IRM Tour Guide - which is now available for Android.  It was presented to the Board last Saturday and approved.  The IRM App, "IRMA" for short, can be downloaded for free by anyone, but is intended mostly to enhance the visitor experience.  We will now want to have some signs installed to inform visitors of this new feature.  As you tour the Museum, your Android phone can display text with additional information about the artifacts, pictures, and links to videos of the equipment in operation.  IRMA will also give you important safety information and helpful hints on planning your visit. 

 
The computer code that actually runs the app was developed by my son-in-law, Jay Powell, and Frank and I are developing the content.  Our intent is not to have information on every piece of equipment, but to tell stories about railroading in general using selected pieces as examples.  Dining cars, private cars, labor relations, technological developments, and various aspects of preservation are a few of the types of subjects we want to cover.  More will be added as time permits.  Did we mention that it's free?





If you have an Android phone you can try out IRMA now.  Go to the App Store and search for "IRM Tour Guide"; it's listed under the category Educational.  As you may know, once the app has been installed on your phone, it will be updated automatically whenever we upload a new version.  And once the Android version is finalized, we plan to port the app to iPhones.



13 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! Can't wait for iPhone version

David Church

Anonymous said...

Randall,
Can you tuck a link to the information some place on the Hicks Car Works site?
Some of us non 21st century types do not have iphones.

It would be fun to read what you two have written!

Ted Miles
IRM Member

Randy said...

I installed the IRM App on my Galaxy S3 and it worked fine. I think that it is a good start for what could be a powerful tool for our visitors. Things like GPS positioning so that it will guide you to the things that you want to find. May not work in buildings, the metal sided buildings may act like a Faraday cage. Great Work Guys!!

Randy Anderson
Kenansville NC

Randy said...

I installed the IRM App on my Galaxy S3 and it worked fine. I think that it is a good start for what could be a powerful tool for our visitors. Things like GPS positioning so that it will guide you to the things that you want to find. May not work in buildings, the metal sided buildings may act like a Faraday cage. Great Work Guys!!

Randy Anderson
Kenansville NC

Al Reinschmidt said...

Looked good on the daughter's phone, but haven't had time to check it out in detail. Too bad with all this "free" time I have!

Dan Boylan said...

Frank, wow nice app.

Frank Hicks said...

Thanks for your comments, folks! Randy, including GPS positioning would be a neat feature to work towards. For now we're planning to use Pete Schmidt's excellent property map, which is very detailed, accurate and up-to-date.

As for directing people to attractions, it would likely have to be limited to buildings. One of the goals of this app is to minimize the distributed infrastructure and to make it mobile. The only real physical infrastructure needed for this are small placards that can be affixed to existing metal signs that move around when the equipment does.

Frank Hicks

Anonymous said...

Good Work! This is something I have long advocated but yet have no technical tools to implement. One possible flaw I see is the location page where you see that CRT 1024 is in Barn 8 and it has not loved there for some time, certainly for over one year. Sending people the wrong way could be a problem.

One feature I proposed to eliminate the maintenance side of this as we shuffle cars around, would be to have a QRS placard on a car, and then wherever the equipment sat, it could be scanned and the proper page(s) be displayed.

Let me know when you want the 20 or so pages for freight car info.

Bob Kutella

Anonymous said...

Please consider making the iPhone app compatible with iPads for those visitors whose less-than-20/20 eyesight compels them to use something with a larger screen. Great job so far!

Mike Gorecki
IRM Member

Randall Hicks said...

Hello everyone, and thanks for your comments and compliments. I'm on vacation right now and have limited access to the net, so I'll try to answer several questions briefly in one comment.

We would certainly like to deploy an iPhone version, and I just do not know whether the iPad involves extra work. We'll have to ask our AI department on that one.

GPS: That sounds very involved to me, but I could be wrong. Again, that's up to Jay.

Randy: Actually, I've tested the app inside a barn with an Android, and there was no problem with running the app or the linked YouTube videos. I guess the buildings are too thin-skinned to make effective cages at these frequencies.

Ted: I suppose at some point, once the content is more stable, we could make it available on line. I just don't know if there's much demand for that.

Again, thanks for all the input! This is really an exciting project for us!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Are there supposed to be images associated with any of the entries other than the IRR 65 page? When attempting to view images from any other equipment, all I seem to see is a blank page. The descriptive text comes across nicely though.
C kronenwetter

Mike Dore said...

Randal
Just download the app on my Motorola RAZR
No problems.
App looks good, keep up the good work