If you think about it, a large part of a taxi drivers’ income depends on information. Where are the potential customers? Where is the address they want to be dropped off at? What is the best route to drive there? Where are the traffic jams and how to avoid them? No-where else have I seen cabbies embrace technology to access this information as enthusiastically as in Hong Kong.
Shortwave radios, phones, tablets, security video recording devices, fare counters and receipt printers are placed within arms’ reach.
I was particularly impressed with some of the inventive jerry-rigged interface solutions. Like this enhanced gearshift that has been updated to enable the shifting between different devices.
This technology appears to have grown rather than stemming from design, with new generations added on top of the older once already present.
By having a number of different phones, drivers take advantage of telecom plans that allow free communications and open lines for a set number of people. One ‘dispatcher’ has an incoming line and can put the message out to a number of cabs at once. By being a ‘member’ of several of these groups, cabbies up their chances of finding a fare.
Often, the density even extends to the drivers body, hooked up with several Bluetooth and wired earpieces whispering into each ear.
If this technology enthusiasm extends into software, in a few years these drivers could be tuning their own crawlers and predictive algorithms to connect to their rides.