Bangalore buses get Wi-Fi and touch-screen tablets


Multiple streams are drowning this generation with information and the only place which weren’t touched so far are being conquered. All on-the-go places are being wired. Information, Communication and Entertainment (ICE) on the go is the flavor of the month. Alaska Airlines has turned on in-flight Internet in its flight between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Singapore Airlines became the first airline in Asia to offer in-flight Wi-Fi.  Recently Boeing has announced the installation of 50MBPs broadband on 737 aircraft. Not be left alone, Bangalore’s road transport is piloting an in-bus Wi-Fi service with 7 inch tablet PC’s on its buses to the airport (called as Vayu Vajra buses). This is not the first in the country though. Mumbai’s BEST buses were thinking of providing Wi-Fi on its 150 odd buses.

Bangalore bus wi-fi pilot is being done on a particular route from ITPL to the International Airport. The bus is loaded with a 7-inch touch screen tablet PC on all the seats. If successful 200 odd buses will be loaded with these tablet PCs. The intention is to make the otherwise long and stressful journey more enjoyable. I say it’s just a distraction, but that’s just me.

The tablet PC’s are provided by EAFT, a product engineering company based out of Bangalore. EAFT which stands for Everything At Finger Tips has a vision of bringing ICE to the masses. Its line of products includes two tablet PC’s, Apollo and MagicTile which are targeted at education and entertainment respectively.  These devices are fully loaded Tablet PCs with features like 3G, Wi-Fi, microphone, 2 megapixel camera, 4GB storage and can connect to external video out devices through HDMI port. You would have to pay Rs. 25K ($565) to buy one of these devices with similar features. Read more about the device here.

The cost of these particular devices is not be found anywhere. The devices are available for mass consumption either by educational institutions or by mass entertainment for a fleet of transport vehicles like the Bangalore Vayu Vajra buses.

This is two in a row for Banglore’s tech savvyness. If it was the speeding vehicle catching frenzy yesterday, it is the Wi-Fi on a bus today. It gives me great pleasure in writing about how technology can help and empower people and do things which otherwise are not possible. Wi-Fi on a bus which goes to the airport might not be technology empowering people because people who fly will have access to some kind of Internet. If we move beyond that, these kind of pilots and mass orders which follow will bring the cost of the useful devices further down make them affordable for the people who really need it. EAFT’s vision of bringing information and entertainment to the masses can only be realized by initiatives like these.

When you have to fly out of Bangalore, try getting into one of the Vayu Vajra buses and see if you can play with the latest toy.

[Story, Image from The Hindu]