Monday, November 29, 2010

Augmented Reality – Demented Perceptions

A few days earlier while returning home via the Deccan Queen’s meandering journey cutting across the Western Ghats, a civil argument punctuated the silence of my compartment. A Parsi woman in her mid-forties engaged in a verbal duel with the ticket collector who did not give his consent to a ticket that was being shown to him on a fellow travelers laptop. A few words and a fine later the matter was settled and the TC proved right from the rules displayed across the ticket of another traveler. What struck me was how long it would be that the Indian Railways would come to recognize the power of the digital. With geo-targeted social media and 23 million smart phones across India waiting to ride the android bandwagon, the Railways must listen up. The solution to the problem lies in the digitalizing of tickets. With Android enabled smart phones hosting multiple code recognition software’s this would make life one step ahead with the only cost borne by arming the ticket checkers with scanners enabled to do the same. It is important to note that these tickets that are already in vogue. In places like New Delhi’s metros they have been incorporated successfully. Bus ticket collectors in Mumbai & Pune are already armed with digital receipt dispensers. The technology ready for the taking only needs the initial push for solutions to come through at a national level for a transport system that carries on million Indians annually.
It is also important to note that the technology integration required is only one sided and does not concern the traveler. Well of course details like train-train number and date and time of departure will be borne on the reverse of the ticket like always. The solution will not only drive business solutions but also contribute to the reduction of the carbon contribution due to enormous truck loads of computer generated print outs at either end.
And, in a country like India where trial and error is the usual route instead of research and development this attempt might just turn tables on record of the past.

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