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The Future of Disruptive Technology for Mobility-as-a-Service

Published on
September 1, 2017
Matt Lenton
Marketing Director
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Mobility-as-a-Service is the offering of multiple approaches, alternatives and methods of travelling, but it is only achievable with the evolution of technology. Technology such as smartphones, open-source API access and improved connectivity have helped lay the foundations for Mobility-as-a-Service to thrive. Without connected technology, it would be near impossible to effectively and efficiently present every method of transport, every supplier, every permutation of travel.

With this in mind, what are the latest disruptive technologies that can play (or already are playing) a major role in the development of Mobility-as-as-Service?

Facial Recognition

Despite suspicion of bio-metric data and how it could be used negatively, users are being fueled by a desire for convenience to provide more personal information than they ever have before. This might not necessarily mean data on employment or favourite flavour of ice cream, but it is data about geographical check-ins, who their data is shared with, what websites they visit etc.

Facial recognition technology is now at a place that it is sophisticated and accurate enough to match physical features to individual data.

“It’ll never really catch on” I hear you say? Well it already is…

Only this year did British Airways launch their ‘breeze through boarding’ trial that used facial recognition over passport scanning to improve boarding times. Facial data recorded at security is re-used by British Airways at the gate to automatically check passengers have boarded. The consequences for Mobility-as-a-Service are limitless. What next? Airlines can use the airport CCTV to locate passengers who are late for their plane? Automatic check in and baggage drop in a literal flash? Payment and bookings made by facial gestures without ever taking the wallet out. Many may not like bio-metric being used, nor trust how it’s used but it is a inevitable future that will improve efficiency for travel.

Algorithmic Machine Learning

There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t an announcement of a new ‘Artificial Intelligence’ company opening its doors or technologists reveal they use ‘A.I. technology to improve their product’. In reality, this hyper-personalisation tech isn’t self-conscious intelligence but sophisticated algorithmic machine learning. Computers are far more capable of assessing multiple variables, preferences and consequences in nano-seconds to make better decisions. How does this apply to Mobility-as-a-Service however?

Imagine getting off the train at London Kings Cross train station and your app/smartphone/wearable tech has already immediately ‘plugged in’ to the local APIs for traffic data, availability and even the weather monitoring system. Imagine that it can provide you with an instant recommendation of how to take your next stage of your journey:

  • Is it raining outside? Walking might not be the best idea for your business meeting, so here’s an Uber we can order nearby
  • Traffic is currently poor in the city centre which has pushed back your ETA to make you late. Taking the tube will result in a faster journey
  • There are no available taxis currently parked outside the station and the queue is likely to add 12 minutes to your journey. The tube arriving in 3 minutes is likely to get your there quicker
  • Connected with friends, the system can track that your friend is currently in traffic themselves so you have an extra projected 15 minutes to go grab something to eat if you need to

As machine learning technology starts to learn more about the user it can start making decisions for the user without them ever having to even think about it.

Wearable to Implantable

Wearable technology has undoubtedly been a disruptive technology that no one had cracked even 7 or 8 years ago. Wearable technology that tracks steps, calories, heart-rate, connects to a smartphone and can even pay for items is now the norm.

The next stage of this is Implantable technology where micro-devices are implanted into humans to provide 24/7 technology that can’t be lost, broken, stolen or even needs to be charged.

There are already trials of micro-chips being installed to employees by businesses so that security lanyards can’t be lost and employee health can be monitored. The next evolution of this technology is one geared around convenience. Credit cards, personal identification, health data tracking and more, can all be monitored discretely and stored in one single chip. Payment for  a taxi can happen with a swipe of the arm. Health data can be used to adjust the individual air conditioning levels on a plane to reach the optimum or preferred temperature.

For Mobility-as-a-Service it’s all about facilitating convenience, data capture and making transactions and decision making as effortless as possible.

Cyber-security Importance

With all of this potential technology comes unprecedented opportunities to maliciously abuse it. As more and more personal data becomes available digitally, the risk of losing this data to hackers becomes higher. As such, we can expect that cyber-security will become even more of a priority in the coming years and play an important role in Mobility-as-a-Service.

Service providers will have to adhere to stricter regulations on how they store and use data. Technology like APIs (that allow developers to tap into a providers systems) will need to be more secure to avoid disruption and manipulation.

Technology such as implantables or facial recognition will need more development to ensure that it can’t be tricked, thereby potentially costing a victim thousands in costs.

Bot Customer Servicing

The final disruptive technology is already here – automated bots for customer service. Already bots are becoming more and more prevalent that sometimes it’s hard to identify the difference between a human and software.

Bots are programmed software that interact with human users in a as human way as possible. Will call centre workers be replaced by bots? Perhaps.

Bots are capable of analysing problems, searching data and making decisions substantially faster than a human could ever. Bot technology could be used for Mobility-as-a-Service to provide concierge servicing that takes on the users problem and finds a solution in nano-seconds. Bots can be interacted with 24/7 without human resource considerations and can be communicated with across multiple mediums – emails, phone, text, WhatsApp, Social Media.

The real challenge for providers will be how well they can mask bots to interact as humans. There will always be complex problems, bizarre questions and dialects, syntax, language that is difficult for computers to understand. If the technology isn’t delivered to be perfect, it could end up as the next “Press 1 for cancellations” telephone system – frustrating and annoying millions of customers.

To find out more about Mobility-as-a-Service and how it can be used to help your business, get in touch with one of our team.