Technology That’s User Focussed

Over the past few days I have encountered some interesting technology while visiting CeBit 2007 in Hanover Germany and it’s not all VoIP related.

ATM’s: I just went through the smoothest ATM experience ever. Asked only the basic questions and then spewed out my bills in different denominations. For instance, €100 would come as 2 x €5, 2 x €10, 1x €20 and 1 x €50. Very practical instead of one or two high value bills. Someone thought about the basic user requirement here.

GPS Navigation: My host’s GPS navigation system has taken us over the past two evenings to two excellent restaurants near the Hanover Messe site. These are slightly "off the beaten track" places with local fare and gemutlichkeit that we would never have experienced in a pre-GPS navigation world. But the data base needs updating as the Indonesian restaurant we thought we were going to actually turned out to be a Greek restaurant after a recent ownership change; however, but both the food and hospitality were quite memorable.

Talk about going full circle: we are sitting here in Germany watching Deutsche Welle Television originating in Germany — but picked up via on my home Rogers cable service back near Toronto, Canada and coming back to Germany via my SlingBox Pro at home. But again, as the user I get to select my choice of channel, whether Deutsche Well, CBC Newsword, CNN or NHL Centre Ice from a service I am already paying for.

Downtown Parking: Around Hanover Zentrum, especially as you enter the downtown area, are electronic signs that not only direct you towards municipal parking buildings but also tell you how many spots are currently open in each. Once you enter a building you are directed to the various levels based on current occupancy. This is a great idea for the "Green" movement as it must save on fuel required to look around for vacant parking spots.

I had occasion to ride Deutsche Bahn on a couple of trips within Germany. Once again a German service is using display technology to the fullest. Each car has an LED display on the exterior showing complete train information for that individual car. Within the car is an active overhead display providing speed, location, schedule and promotional information as you travel. Eliminates much of the aggravation and tension associated with travel on unfamiliar networks.

Bottom line: the Germans are certainly making efforts to use information and modern display technology to deliver real time information focused on the individual and relieving much of the anxiety associated with travel and driving. And they make it simple for the average user to grasp and understand. Now, as one who is allergic to cigarette smoke, if the Germans could just get their heads around the need to limit public smoking as done in California and most of Canada (update — I just learned that London, UK goes "no smoking in public" July 1). I guess the Germans still need to get IT services built to figure out the smoking-enhanced cost to both their healthcare system and tourism industry.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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