Crinus’ Mobile Dreams
From work to centre of Helsinki to Airport
I am blasting near Helsinki with my parents’ car,
en route to the airport to deliver them this necessary
piece of transportation. Frustrated with the sluggish pace
of the traffic and the always-out-of-date information signs
(yes, I’ve taken the hint from Helsinki: cars not welcome)
I get an inspiration to write this text. I don’t know
the impact this has on anything, but it doesn’t (never has 😉
prevent me from writing it. If nothing else, it helps me to let out
Situation: I’m at work 3:30PM, going to deliver the car to my
parents, but before this a couple of friends and me decide to
go to the centre to get some more juggling props (clubs).
First stop: gasoline from the Esso station
Why can’t I pay using my cellular? They always have
queues at the desk, and I’m just too fed up with waiting.
It’s not that my (leisure) time would be that precious, it’s immeasurable
I’m used to having a lot of leisure time, and after a good
work day in the IT-sector I wish to have zero unnecessary
burdens. Another service which I would certainly pay a small fee
would be querying for the cheapest gas station along my planned
route, say, I would be pinpointed using GSM technology and I would
provide a parameter (radius in kilometers) and the service would give
me the name and driving instructions of the cheapest station (or
one that would meet other criteria, such as level of service).
Second need: which traveling method in the city?
I arrive at the end of the motorway, just about to enter
the city. Traffic slows significantly down, and we begin
a chatter about which way we could get to the juggling store
fastest. Should we continue driving the car, or
should we take the subway, or a combination of public transportation
methods? Guessing, guessing. I want answers, which are
very likely true. The information system I have in mind
would be updateable, knowing of traffic jams, average
traffic densities (where real-time information wouldn’t be
available), road blocks, and the timetables of public transportation.
I could make queries like "I’m at point A, wishing to go
to point B, tell me how to do it". The computations and
databases are quite massive and complex, but the whole idea
of this kind of service would be that the end-user would get
a simple, natural language answer to the question.
The service might answer something like:
Take bus number NNN (in 3 min.) to CENTRE,
followed by SUBWAY to EAST at 10:11AM.
You will arrive in place XXX estimated
At the airport: parking fee, info snippets
I park the car in
a 30-minute parking lot.
The fee has to be paid using coins (which of course
you don’t have at hand, an evidence of this
is the woman coming right after me and talking to her
husband about the machine not accepting notes).
And still, I’ve more than once spent half an eternity
trying to make a machine believe my notes are valid.
They often keep ejecting the notes several times
I pay the sum of 20 FIM and I get 30 minutes of parking
time. The machine slips me two paper notes:
one which I shall place inside the car for parking
area personnel to see, and the other which reminds me
when my time is up. If this had been done using a
cellular, it would be very handy to get a countdown
meter of some kind running in the display.
Knowing the totally chaotic situation of air traffic
in Europe, it would be nice to receive little informative SMS-style
messages about current situation, eg. in my case it would have
been that all incoming international flights are coming through
the second arrival hall (actually the people are coming, not
the planes, I hope). An extension might be that before you arrive
at the airport, you would tell the service which flight you are
waiting for, and you would get information concerning that
All of these services are just waiting to get implemented.
(a sidenote: the text was written in year 2000, in Espoo Finland)