While Americans wax poetic about a future where riders can hail a cab with a smartphone, in Tokyo, the taxis are hailing the riders when they forget something.
There are few things worse than watching a cab drive off with your cell phone, purse or parcel. Now Kokusai Motorcars Co., a Tokyo-based taxi company, is unveiling new technology that will alert customers when they’ve forgotten something at the end of their trip, the Wall Street Journal reports. The innovative service uses four small cameras – two under the front seats, one on the ceiling, and one in the trunk – to record pictures of the back seat before and after a passenger enters the taxi. When the cameras detect a difference between the two, an alarm will sound to alert passengers they may have left something behind.
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The system is designed to help maintain taxi riders’ privacy, as well. It won’t capture clear images of faces and Kokusai Motorcars plans to inform all passengers of the cameras’ presence via signage. Kokusai Motorcars plans to start installing the system in all 3,100 of its taxis next spring at an estimated cost of ¥50,000 ($500) per car. It hopes to sell the system to other taxi companies, as well.
The innovative system is not only a boon to forgetful passengers, but can save taxi drivers time, too. With the camera system in place drivers will no longer have to ask their passengers if they have forgotten anything nor spend time returning lost items. According to the Wall Street Journal, Tokyo drivers reported to police 210,000 objects left behind in their cars last year, while Kokusai Motorcars said about 60 percent of the calls they received about lost items are for mobile phones.