To download this story in PDF, click here.
Written by Olivier Adam (Singapore); Edited by Rejean Bourgault (Canada), Co-founders of 5Deka – All Rights Reserved
This article will go over a few of the “technologies” that I’ve encountered on my trips around Asia. I’ve visited and lived in nine different countries (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and China) during my four and a half months (from December 2008 to April 2009) there. I kept track of a few interesting concepts that I had not seen in use before in either Europe or North America. Now, those technologies are not unique to Asia and they are not necessarily widespread across all countries in Asia either. It also doesn’t mean they are not already used in other regions of the world. This is mainly a presentation on how technology can be used and how, if it is not already in use where you live, you can expect them to be used around you in the short term future.
Part 1 - Transportation
The first use of technology is related to transportation, mainly cabs. There seems to be quite a few interesting twists that have been applied to this seemingly standard and basic type of service. First, the system for booking a cab has been significantly improved.
A) If you call a cab from home, you get an automated service that confirms your address. Since you’re calling from home, the cab company can link your home phone # to your home address (as it’s a service that has been offered to companies for years by the telecom providers). Then, the system asks if you want a cab right now (press 1) or if you want it for later (press 2). If you press 1, the system asks you to wait for a few seconds, and then it tells you the number of the cab that will come to pick you up as well as how long it will take for the cab to be at your doorstep. The system also recorded your phone number in their database, so if you decide not to be downstairs waiting for your cab when it’s supposed to be there, the cab driver will simply call to inform you that he is there waiting for you.
Once you get inside the cab, you will notice again quite a few technologies being used. The first one that you notice is the tactile screen next to the driver. This screen shows him the address where to pick you up as well as any other information that can be useful (your name, which they never asked, they simply took it from your phone number). Once he starts driving, the driver can choose the screen to act as a GPS (to help with the navigation in driving you as efficiently as possible to your destination); otherwise, the screen just shows simple advertisement as it is easily seen from the back seat. Also, while he’s driving, the screen will sometimes pop-up a message to the driver. The message will be to offer the driver an advance booking. The driver can then choose to accept the advance booking or reject it as he gets all the information pertaining to the booking (time, pick up location and drop off location as well). This could be argued as not being very safe, as we know that interacting with a screen instead of watching the road while driving could be dangerous. They could easily implement a feature that the pop-up messages only appear if the car is standing still (either at a stop, or waiting for a pick-up).
Another feature of this tactile screen is to monitor the car. Indeed, I’ve been in a few cabs where the driver decided to go over the speed limit and since the car is equipped with a GPS, it knows on which road the cab is and the speed limit it should be respecting. So once the cab driver goes over the limit, he will get a reminder on his screen asking him to slow down. The warning is also dependent on how fast the cab goes (the faster it goes, the stronger the suggestion to slow down is). This didn’t seem to stop the cab drivers from speeding, but they could eventually get a warning added to their profile if the company wants to ensure safety and good driving conduct by all of their drivers.