Sunday, August 30, 2015

On surviving traffic-jams

The rise of Asia’s largest cities brings not only benefits to their inhabitants. Many cities have, since they were not prepared for the rapid growth, too narrow streets, ineffective or non-existing signage, tens of thousands of traffic newcomers and a rapidly growing number of cars. 

The consequence for the everyday life of millions of people: Traffic jams on the streets of many major cities that often go on for hours. 

A two hour commute to office is nothing say many residents in large South-East Asian urban areas such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila. The 60+ hours that motorists in Germany have on average lost in traffic jams, are nothing compared to what you can experience in Asia.

How do people deal with massive traffic jams on that scale? 


Go Online: How did we actually survive traffic jams without Smartphones? Facebook and YouTube have particularly high rates of access at peak times. No wonder, mobile-charging cables for the car are now within the basic kit for every car. How about becoming the new selfie king/queen of your city?
Instead of complaining, take pictures of yourself in traffic and upload it. 
...Our you could simply continue playing Qyu.

TV: In Bangkok or Tokyo there are cars with screens and extra antennas, where one can watch television - a distraction, which is meant to be used exclusively by bored passengers.

Catch some sleep: If you do not sit behind the wheel, you can at least close your eyes while in transit. In a packed minibus in Manila many who woke up early in the morning in order to get a seat, do just that. But undisturbed sleep is rare: "I often get woken up because my snoring bothers the others," said Medardo Gonzales in Manila.




Save souls: In many minibuses in Manila, preachers are trying to bring a couple of sheep on the right path during the hour-long ride. The most popular Bible verses in the packed bus, are likely "So brethren be patient," James 5.7. 

Nibbling on food: Hungry? On every street corner there are stalls with takeaway snacks. Skewers, dumplings, or soups with straws? You name it. In Bangkok there are even in-car snack-packages with attached spoon that keep the food warm while the air conditioner running at full speed. 

Personal hygiene: Tweezers, cotton swabs, and nail scissors - many motorists use the traffic-jam leisure time in the car for grooming using the rear view mirror to remove these annoying nose hairs, clean ears, or get rid of pimples. Female riders put on mascara and lipstick.

Car hygiene: How about getting your car cleaned? In Jakarta it is likely that an 
unsolicited wet rag lands on your front window. Quickly sprayed soap; someone, throws the rag around, wiping the window dry - and then demanded a "tip" for cleaning service. 




Traffic-jam pop-up stores: Fragrant flowers for the car, drinks (hot & cold), newspapers - sellers of all kinds weave swiftly between the cars. Everything is portable. High in demand in Bangkok are those sellers who, sporting a wearable cooler around their necks, conjure iced drinks. "I am doing my online shopping in a traffic jam or call customers", says stockbroker Winluck in Bangkok.

Other shops: In Manila once jingle bags were a best seller: Mobile urinals. Even in Bangkok many motorists have prepared an emergency toilet in the car. 

Ride-sharing lanes: In Jakarta some lanes for cars with at least three occupants are reserved. At the entrances are potential co-riders who will ride with you for a few pennies. High in demand are mothers with babies: They count double.

Outsmarting the jam: The best traffic-jam survival strategy is not to be in one. In many markets mobile apps like ParkerMeister (http://www.parkermeister.com) or similar apps show you where you should and should NOT go. So it is just a question of preparation of you are in the jam or not.



Monday, June 29, 2015

On genuinely getting lost

Go to the next bus stop.
Take the next bus.


With directions like these can travelers explore the city, coincidentally discovering places no tourist has ever seen or even known. Gamified traveling : Detours increase the knowledge of a place.

Nowadays you only rarely see them; tourist awkwardly handling a battered city-map bending in the wind, searching for north/south guaranteed storming off in the wrong direction.

This is without a doubt the 21st century. Today satellites are supporting our travels steered by the global positioning system. The art of genuinely getting lost has become a dying trade.

But now is the time for a change. Now is the time for a counter movement. Now is the time to get lost. And groups like the Flaneur Society are following this trend.The problem is with all information readily available through the smart-phone, we are experiencing space and time only indirectly.

But genuinely getting lost takes some practice.

And like most activities, it is most fun if you make a game out of it.

Get off after 12 stops
After getting off, turn left.


Take your time. Sit down once in a while and look around. Write down what you see. How it feels.
The modern flaneur is a human being who aimlessly lingers overlaying the inner nothingness with a multitude of impressions.

If you see a guy in glasses turn around


“Not to find one's way around a city does not mean much. But to lose one's way in a city, as one loses one's way in a forest, requires some schooling. Street names must speak to the urban wanderer like the snapping of dry twigs, and little streets in the heart of the city must reflect the times of day, for him, as clearly as a mountain valley. This art I acquired rather late in life; it fulfilled a dream, of which the first traces were labyrinths on the blotting papers in my school notebooks.”
                                      ― Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood around 1900


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thank you for a fantastic ’14!

With the hours ticking down towards the new year we are concluding what has been the most successful year so far.

Now is the time to reflect upon on everything that happened in this year and say thank you for supporting tenqyu since the meager beginnings. 

The year started with a bang when I was invited to present tenqyu through ParkerMeister at the prestigious Activate Summit by the Guardian.

We could then showcase the world our newest innovation with the successful launch of In Shadows  (www.inshadows.asia) and the world-wide first inaugural beta run at the amazing Gardens By The Bay in April 2014. Sold out runs in Tokyo and Singapore’s Chinatown quickly followed.

In Shadows is a iBeacon-enabled game of tag. It requires at least two players, who each have the In Shadows app. Players are divided into “Hunters” and “Shadows”. They must try to outwit each other while running.



Innovation, Innovation, Innovation.
 
And this was only the first of a line of Bluetooth beacon based apps we could launch in 2014. Quickly thereafter we could launch Bierdar (Tinder for beer aficionados). Powerfully presenting the amazing potential this technology has for urban engagement.
We even have Escape Grid and Agent Q in the pipeline for 2015 bringing even more exciting fun to urban living.
With the third quarter quickly pacing by, we introduced Quick, Rate me (www.qrate.me) to the world. Quick rate me is an easily embeddable feedback system for small and medium sized company’s to learn more about their customer’s experience.


And to conclude a highly successful year we further leveraged on the  potential of our event-based platform by launching qrawl.in (www.qrawl.in) to this world. Qrawl.in is imgur for qr-codes and about finding new content while you are out there exploring; taking over your city. Tag codes and share them with the world to find. 

Proving that we have a very strong product portfolio we are in full swing prepared, looking forward to further growth in 2015.

 
Without your great support and help this would have not been possible! 

Therefore I would like to extend our deepest gratitude and are looking forward to a successful and fun 2015.

I wish you all the best and a wonderful 2015!

With best regards and many thanks, Jan

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Retail has to evolve or face extinction.

As ubiquitous mall tenants from Sears to Radio Shack shutter stores and consumers shop more online from the comfortable confinements of their urban caves, the days are gone when a cookie cutter models could be applied to retail mall design.

Smartphones, acting as remote controls for real life, i.e., you open an app, press a button, a taco appears, satisfy the desire for instant gratification driven by ultra-availability technologies that have conditioned us to no tolerance for boredom.

Originally, shopping centers and malls were invented for logistical purposes; conveniently and inexpensively located in suburban settings with ample parking available providing a consistent experience globally.

Today, malls need to be constantly different to draw and sustain a critical mass of shoppers.

"What we are doing as a landlord is facilitating the bricks-and-mortar retailer to compete with an online retailer as it relates to convenience, which is, 'Give me what I want when I want it'"
General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani

Researcher suggests that internet-enabled, always-on, on-demand technology has made us much less active. And that includes not just middle-aged workers tied to their desks, but also young men and women who spend their days sitting in front of their laptops.

Back in the 1980s, 80 to 90 percent of people reported doing at least some physical activity in their leisure time. But now, up to half of Americans say they are not active at all.

This sedentary lifestyle has changed our consumer behavior as shopping is no longer just an activity to purchase merchandise. With an immediate gratification being just a few taps away, brick-and-mortar shopping has to evolve into a dynamic experience that constantly needs to be different to draw and sustain shoppers. In other words, not shop more but shop better. More sustainable and pleasant. You have to have a community experience that's a draw for your target audience to come.

The simple solution — it’s all about mobile. But not in the way you might think.

Mobile is an effective means of enhancing the retail experience.Retailers can significantly improve their customer experience and trim their store layouts and their inventories by only keeping one version of each item on the selling floor, and shoppers use a smartphone app (like our app Qyu) to scan the tags attached to the pieces they want to try on. The items are then dispensed into a dressing room.

Retailers can also benefit from using Bluetooth beacons to make shopping more seamless. By placing these sensors around stores, shoppers who opt in will be able to receive additional information about items that they walk past or pick up, enjoy gamified content, as well as targeted promotions based on where they are in the store.

From checkout to loyalty cards, we are already training people to ignore the boring. Every interaction and interface will need to deliver entertainment or be ignored.
The stores themselves need to offer free Wi-Fi, so consumers can easily browse the Web, and there should be signs teaching them what additional information they can pull up on their phones—for example, product reviews. Store associates should also be trained to refer shoppers to their mobile app and make its functionality part of the in-store experience.

While our non-scientific research indicates a mixed picture
If a retailer targeted an offer to me while I was in-store:
Find it creepy!  40%
Would use if I get a discount! 36%
I'm not sure how I'd feel 24%
Total Votes: 1693

We believe that through our desire for instant gratification and need to create share-able content we remain positive that with the right concepts in place, it will be a win-win situation for all.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Sorry to tell you Google. It’s you, not me.

What had started as a promising love story a couple of years back does not work anymore.
 

I might have been late to realize it, but you were ignoring me for too long.

Today was finally the day.

What happened you might ask?

Simple, I wanted to show a new acquaintance that I just had met while waiting for my wife in a cafe what my company is doing. 


Since I am not always logged into my account on my phone due to privacy concerns, I wanted to search my company name to show the video of one of our latest apps.

And you failed me.

What started of as an innocuous search ended in a series of topless male wrestlers. 




The Awkwardness.

Where on earth is the term TENRYU the same as TENQYU ? I understand, there are probability measures etc that drive your algorithm. But that's what I mean by "it's you".

Your algorithm does not sufficiently well distinguish between a typing error and a no so popular search term.

Therefore, I deleted all my videos that I had uploaded to youtube and moved to Vimeo. 





Good riddance.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Making Of Bierdar

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?" 

                                                                                               -Stephen Wright-
 
Imaging you are with your best buddies in a college town craving for a nice batch of cold beers. Where to go ? What to drink? Behold! The Bierdar ! - For the benefit of drinking good beers with friends! This is what happened to me just a few weeks ago coming back home to my university old stomping grounds. What a stupid idea! Brilliant! There needs to be an app for that. 

And like that, Bierdar was born.






The portmanteau


Bierdar is a portmanteau of the German word for beer (Bier) and Radar and it perfectly describes what the app is intended to do. On the surface Bierdar simply shows you if a beer opportunity is close by. Under the hood, Bierdar is an informal social network of random encounters with likeminded people around the theme of beer.

In contracts to most Asian cities are European cities far more inclusive, healthy, soulful, and thriving. One of the reasons for this is, besides the awesome micro-breweries, the city design around a shared core that allows for people to slowly stroll along, sit in one of the many street cafe’s which allows its citizens to randomly bump into each other in a fun and informal manner. 

Most Asian cities could develop easily into a similarly engaging environments by just having more places to sit and better breweries. Very simple ideas like that can make an actual difference. But the problem is that law makers move slower than people choose to urbanize. Thus, finding other ways to make cities more engaging is one of the problems tenqyu aims to solve. 

This is where the bierdar concept comes in. While it is a little app that seems to not have much functionality, it will evolve from a little helper for
the smart cities community into something bigger. As it creates an informal mesh-network this technology will be a benefit for beer connoisseurs and bars to connect and in addition creates cleaner and unassuming cityscapes by removing obtrusive advertising in a post-pc era.


How does it do that ?

While a radar uses electromagnetic waves to detect and locate objects, the Bierdar uses Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons (ne: iBeacons). When a beer is near, the Bierdar will display a small beer (figure 1) and when you are closing in the Bierdar will display a larger beer (figure 2). At each point in time it is possible to build up a mesh-network with the other beacon to easily chat about the beer conditions.




Following that, the user can start a mesh network with the other user. The important distinction here is that the user who has beer and the user who wants beer are using the different functionality of the beacon. (figure 3)



If you have beer, then you will be advertising the signal (figure 4). This is a very simply yet effective solution to find beer without any sign-in, and too much of an overhead. Following this a multi-peer chat network (IOS7 feature) can be initated to find out more about who is on the other side of the beacon.


So from a technical perspective the key feature is that the app now does not need an Internet connection to work. It creates a mesh network between users and the Internet with a the new multi-peer connectivity framework which was introduced in iOS7. As this technology becomes more mainstream it could have profound effects on how beer aficionados across the world connect with themselves.

And, by this the fratboy in my was cheering by the opportunity of having great beers with some random fun people.