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Digital Interactive Map

2009. 27 October

( Touchmedia, an in-taxi interactive media company, in partnership with the Shanghai Municipal Institute of Surveying & Mapping, recently unveiled an electronic map to make taxi passengers’ lives easier.

The interactive map was developed in preparation for Expo 2010, which is a world expo with the theme “Better City. Better Life.” that signifies Shanghai’s new status in the 21st century as a major economic and cultural center.

Creating the map to support the Expo took more than 12 months of research and development and cost 1 million RMB, according to the company. The Touchmedia interactive system has already been greeted by Expo officials as the “most welcomed source of interactive information” on the official Expo Internet site. Now with the next phase of Expo support, the new multi-function map program will be launched in November in more than 10,000 taxis in Shanghai. Phase 3, with a special map of the Expo area, will launch January 1st, to celebrate the start of Shanghai’s Expo year.

“This is ground-breaking technology,” said Thomas Chan, head of Research and Development at Touchmedia, Shanghai, China. “I do not know of anyone who has combined interactive, display, zoom, photo and voice technology in this way before. And to do it on a mobile platform is truly unique.”

After touching the map’s icon button, taxi passengers will see a map of Shanghai appear on the screen. Passengers can easily navigate left, right, up and down, or zoom in and out, said the company. A display on the right side of the screen also lets them select from seven categories of destination: tourist attractions, shopping areas, hotels, entertainment, restaurants, government offices and major transportation. The map has nearly 100 important landmarks in total, many with photographs for even greater convenience.

Uniquely, the map also can “talk” to the driver. Once passengers have found their destination in either English or Chinese, they can press a button and the unit will immediately tell the driver in Mandarin where to go.

“Shanghai will have more than 50 million out-of-town visitors for the Expo and more than three million will be foreigners,” said Micky Fung, Touchmedia CEO. “Unlike a mobile GPS, it can actually talk to the driver. We hope this service will make [visitors’] stay more convenient and enjoyable, not just whilst they visit the Expo, but wherever they travel, to restaurants, shopping and attractions all over the city.”

Taxis are a key part of many visitors’ experiences of the city and industry sources believe taxi usage in the six months during the Expo will go up from more than 60 million passengers to more than 600 million in total, said the company. The taxi companies, with government support, have been running a program to help drivers understand key phrases, and to improve courtesy and car cleanliness.

Jenny Zhao, vice president of operations at Touchmedia, added that she is now arranging some instant training for drivers to guide passengers to use the map system. Something as easy as being able to say “Please touch the map” can make all the difference for both sides, said the company.