Four days prior to Infotel 2015, the team at the Mobitel Innovation Center were told that they had a stall and needed to present something. Four days to prepare something for the biggest ICT exposition in South East Asia. Practically anyone else would consider this to be absolute madness. For this team based inside Trace Expert City though it was what they had signed up for.

Established earlier this year in April, the goal of the team at the Mobitel Innovation Center is simply to create innovative solutions. In this world of rapid change, technology updates itself every 6 months or less. Mobitel realizing this built the Mobitel Innovation Center to create new innovative solutions and explore possible new revenue streams for the company in the coming years.

Headed by Prabhath Gamage – General Manager at Mobitel, this team decided to take the challenge of building the bus stand of 2020. Continuing on the theme of Smart Sri Lanka 2020, the goal was to create a bus stand that would help connect Sri Lanka.

The Mobitel Innovation Center Team (Photo credits: Malshan Gunawardane)
The Mobitel Innovation Center Team (Photo credits: Malshan Gunawardane)

Today, bus stands are places which see large numbers of people throughout any given day. Fast forward five years, the way we use technology will change, but it’s unlikely we’ll stop using buses. So the team decided that the best way to make a positive impact to the largest number of people was at the bus stands. So what exactly do you find at a smart bus stand?

As you head towards the bus stand, the first thing you’ll see is the smart vending machine. Equipped with a camera for facial recognition, this vending machine recognizes you and sends a USSD message for you to select your drink if you are registered user. Once you’ve selected your drink, the amount is deducted from your mobile account and you get your drink. If you’re not a registered user then you can simply enter your phone number manually into the vending machine and you’ll get the USSD menu.

The popular smart vending machine (Photo credits: Malshan Gunawardane)
The popular smart vending machine (Photo credits: Malshan Gunawardane)

Right, next to the vending machine you’ll see a smart street light. Equipped with a motion sensor, this smart street light will automatically dim itself when there are no people. Additionally, this smart street light also comes with WiFi and mini LTE cell towers to help you stay connected. Any number of mini LTE cell towers from any networks can be attached to these street lights. The only limit being how much power and weight the street light can support. Nonetheless, the street lights of the future not only save us money, they also help us stay connected.

Walk into the bus stand and you’ll be greeted by two displays on both sides. The display on the left shows ads from various e-commerce sites. At first glance, these ads look random but upon closer inspection, you’ll find that these ads are actually tailored to suit you. The display is equipped with a web camera that takes a picture of you, identifies your gender and age. It then displays relevant ads for your gender and age group. If you see anything you like, all you need to do is scan the QR code and you’ll be directed to the product page.

The display on the right is arguably the best feature of the stall. This display shows the location of the buses in real-time. Currently, this system may not work but the vision is that by 2020 we can have cheap GPS tracking devices installed in buses. This display also shows you the weather at other adjacent bus stops. Interestingly, this weather data is collected at each bus stop using a mini-weather station and shared across a network.

The solar panel that powers it all (Photo credits: Malshan Gunawardane)
The solar panel that powers it all (Photo credits: Malshan Gunawardane)

Finally, there’s a solar roof which powers everything we mentioned above.  Sadly, this wasn’t really put to use since the stall was located inside.

After five sleepless nights, this what the team at the Mobitel Innovation Center pulled off. An amazing and realistic concept of what a bus stand in 2020 would look like. Hopefully, in 2020, we can refer back to this article and say these bus stands have now been implemented across the island.

1 COMMENT

  1. Innovation is good… But what these MOBITEL people have done is COPYING..
    These people have stolen the ideas from Google I/O Hackathon (smart bus stop) and TadHack (smart vending) and displays them in Infotel as if they made these innovations. This is not good and really SHAME ON YOU Mobitel. Expect few intellectual rights cases in the very neer future. Your comapany may be BIG. But there is something called Ethics which rule this world.

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