New York wants to reinvent its taxis. The metropolis just put out an all-points-bulletin to tech companies, and the general public, seeking new gizmos and innovations that would improve the cab riding experience. The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is open to all ideas, but top priority has been given to tech that can create a number of new features:
- Cell phone-blocking technology (for drivers while engaged, but not passengers!)
- Wayfinding (knowing location, finding best routes)
- Multiple metered rate of fare and split-fare capabilities
- Radio frequency identification (RFID) readers or biometrics to ensure use by authorized drivers
- Better, more informative receipts with driver information, easier-to-read/larger print, coupons, advertising, promotions, and receipts delivered electronically to an email address
- Driver debit card (income deposited directly into drivers' bank accounts) linked to benefits, i.e. discounts on car washes, fuel, restaurants, etc.
- Multiple languages
- Music and music video menu
- Internet or Wi-Fi capability (check e-mail, surf Web, shop, etc.)
- Real-time interactivity with TLC to facilitate surveys, complaints, compliments
Submissions for ideas are due by June 15.
Sounds sweet right? And then we realized: The cheapest way to to make any of these initiatives happen would simply involve designing apps for the iPhone or Android. Think about it: RFID, multiple meters, wayfinding, multiple languages, Internet, interactivity with TLC. All of those you could do in a suite of apps. For the rest? Create a plug in interface for the driver's phone, that would give the passenger access to a tailored suite of apps. You could even throw in speedometers—hey cabbie slow down!—friend trackers, Facebook, Twitter, and a bunch of games featuring blinking gems.
What do you guys think? Is there an easier way to pull all this stuff off? And which features would you love to see in a cab?