Transforming Transportation with Renewed Smartphones

Posted by Sanida Bratt on May 5, 2016 10:00:00 AM


The Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly emerging as an underlying ecosystem supporting the digital revolution.

This idea of connecting devices — not just to a network, but to each other — is already altering many aspects of everyday life as it relates how we engage with retail, enable access to healthcare or make financial transactions just to name a few.

In this two-part blog post series, we look at the ways IoT and refurbished smartphones are helping efficiently transform certain industries. The first part examined the integration of IoT and use of renewed smartphones in spheres of helping improve quality of life. The second part, presented here, discusses the way IoT devices begin to link information, people and things – its role in revolutionizing industries.

“The tech industry of the past 20 plus years was built on the foundation laid by PC. The next 20 years will be built on ground laid by mobile with four times the scale,” Ben Bajarin of Tech Opinions said.

We are already witnessing the way IoT and renewed smartphones interact with each other and society. Together they are enabling companies to integrate content producers and consumers in high-value exchanges.

Their most important asset is the information gathered from their interactions. This highly personalized information is the creator of value, the sources of competitive advantage, and valuable and scalable growth for companies participating in the sharing economy.

In this blog we discuss possibilities of using affordable, yet powerful, re-used smartphones in supporting the growth of sharing economy by playing a role in:

  • Driver-Assisted Lifestyle
  • Sustainable Way of Mapping the World
  • Expending the Reach from the Grid to the Maze

Driver-Assisted Lifestylesbigstock-Person-s-Hand-Using-Gps-Naviga-91819205.jpg

With the advent of on-demand transportation companies such as Uber, Lyft and the like, getting from point A to point B became as easy as turning on a smartphone. As these companies grew, and more people and businesses use them, the underlying technology became a landmark trait of a company’s differentiation, growth strategy and their valuation.

For drivers, smartphones are essential to finding passengers, navigating to their destinations, finding contextual information and developing more business. These services and capabilities include being able to see ride requests, pinpoint a specific location, provide accurate ETAs, communicate with the community support team, navigate to customer location, communicate with customers and reliably, efficiently and safely navigate the ride on the most appropriate route.

For riders, smartphones are essential in finding the transportation means within given location that best suit their needs and lifestyle preference be it a taxi, ride share, or luxury vehicle.

The use of smartphones has become essential in taking advantage of these services. To most and on the surface, these services are as simple as a light tap or a finger swipe on the smartphone screen and that is part of the charm and viral adoption effect.

However, underlying technology platform on which this simplicity resides is a complex system of mobile device communication, IoT connections, billions of data collection points, advanced analytics models and multiple terabytes of data exchange.

From Grids to Maze

In some places, these functions aren’t as simple as finding someone on the corner of 27th Street and 5th Avenue in New York City. Transportation network companies are aggressively expanding in countries, such as China and India, where traditional navigation doesn’t always work. Streets in developing nations are constantly congested; not to mention a typical pickup location might be “White building next to Mehul’s spice shop, 3rd floor, left.”

Legacy navigation systems, upon which on-demand drivers rely, wouldn’t be able to find this type of address. But, technology is evolving. Riders enter these contextual addresses into their smartphones and somehow find their way there.

On top of that, these apps record the data, analyze the information and add it to the navigation applications - making it easier for the next driver covering that route.

These more sophisticated routing algorithms, tightly integrated with the driver and rider community, provide a substantial competitive differentiation between the on-demand transportation players. However, smartphones that are capable of all these tasks are expensive.

For example, if Uber wanted to equip even 10% of its 1 million drivers with a brand new phone, at $600+ per smartphone, the financial impact will be substantial. A better solution is to give drivers refurbished smartphones with comparable, if not the same specifications as the new smartphone, at the fraction of the cost. 

Uber could use these refurbished smartphones to create a contextual map of the world that includes more than just structured geography and roads; a dynamic map of the world that contains information about traffic, accidents, nearby attractions, hyper-local addresses, individual transient points of interest, and much more.

This vibrant map changes in real time as the underlying conditions change. Such an accurate picture of the world, as interpreted and displayed by technology, is changing the transportation industry to be more reliable and useful.

Sustainable Practice and Mindful Future

Multiple of terabytes of of data, ingested in a real time using these affordable, re-used phones creates an invaluable asset of information that can be usedas one of the important sources of data to help driverless cars better navigate through the confusing mesh of roads.

Lyft and the American automobile giant General Motors recently partnered to develop and implement a fleet of automated cars. So those re-used smartphones may be doing more than just providing an easy way to get a ride. The data collected by deployed renewed smartphones might be one of the many, yet important, sensors that enable autonomous or semi-autonomous driving with the future promise of alleviating congestion on the roads, mitigating one of the causes of air pollution, and of course providing a more enjoyable commute.

Not only will renewed smartphones contribute to the expansion of IoT, but they will also support sustainable practices and a mindful future. Reusing unwanted cell phones for these purposes have the potential to transform the industry, help improve lives and reduce pollution. Doing so keeps cell phones out of landfills, which puts harmful pollutants into the earth.

Transporting Us to the Future

Transportation has always been an important concept in human civilization. From walking to horses to cars to trains and planes, people are always looking for ways to simplify the process of getting from point A to point B. Businesses are always looking for optimal way to transport their goods.

Refurbished phones are playing a critical role in this industry and how they enter every culture, street and car using it. Above all, they are positively shaping transportation in terms of cost, environmental footprint and innovation.

Has IoT impacted your day-to-day activities? How do you see renewed phones impacting the continued spread of this powerful technology? Let us know in the comments below.

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About This Blog

The HYLA Mobile blog is a place for thoughtful dialogue that will ultimately change the perception of “used” phones around the world. Visit the HYLA website to learn more.

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