Posts Tagged ‘Idea Godown’

Autos and Meters

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Every one in Chennai knows that people have given up on the Government to do anything about the issue with Auto-rickshaws (known as AUTO in India) and their refusal to ply with the meters to calculate the fares.

Every single person involved in this system (the passenger, the auto driver, the owner of the auto, the Government, the traffic police, the traffic regulating bodies as well as the auto associations) know that the menace created by some greedy auto drivers has become very common.

The most interesting aspect of this situation is that every one loves the idea of autos, especially in cities like Chennai, as they provide a very quick mode of transportation, with the cost ranging between taking a public transportation system such as a bus, and taking a taxi cab to go to your destination.

While the idea is great, the implementation lacks regulation due to which there are now a million autos in the city, while 99% or more of those autos do not use the meter.

There have been some attempts by some individuals to come up with online initiatives such as and, to address this issue, but they barely touch upon the actual problem.

The key problem at hand is the fact that auto drivers do not use the meters, charge whatever they feel like and refuse to ply to some destinations.

I have seen New York city solve this problem in an amazing way with their taxi cabs, where those drivers did exactly what auto drivers are doing today in Chennai. The government stepped in and rectified the problem once for all. Today, if you take a cab in New York, you do not even tell the driver where you want to go until you are seated inside the taxi. Once seated in the taxi, you tell the driver, he switches on the meter and once the destination is reached, the meter automatically prints a receipt for you. You can swipe your card from the seat and it automatically charges the amount. If at any point, the driver refuses to ply to the destination of your choice, or asks for anything above the meter, there is a toll free number and the cab’s number printed in big bold letters right in front you in the back seat.

Full transparency – this is possible only with the complete support of the Government, who have not been able to solve this problem in Chennai for over ten years now.

For the past three years, I am noticing even tv and interactive online access available in the cabs in New York. This is what is called as solving the problem and going beyond the basics to exceed customer expectations.

Here is an interesting short video clip made by Times Of India, as a part of their Missing Meter initiative.

Note: The above video is in tamil.

I believe there is a way to solve the problem, with or without the Government support. It is in thinking differently from the usual basic steps such as trying to work with the auto unions, governments, etc. It requires an initiative that cannot be overlooked by the auto drivers and they will have to adopt or lose business. While the idea I have is not fully mature, I am parking it in my idea godown for now, but will surely publish again in 2013 after documenting it (and if possible implementing it in 2013).

Educational Tourism Website

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I am spending more time with my son with his school work, especially helping him learn Hindi.

Kids in his grade are learning about quite a lot of places – for example, he has a chapter on Mummies in Egypt, another chapter about the Mettur dam on the River Kaveri in Tamil Nadu, and also a chapter in Hindi about Lord Jagannath (another name for Sri Krishna) and his Rath Yatra in Puri in Orissa.

During this process, I realized that it will be awesome if there was a service provider who could offer tour packages to these places (relevant to what the kids are learning). As I could not find any provider who does this, I have decided to work on Educational Tourism Website, which will help families plan their vacation to such places, which not only help them see new places, but also is relevant to their learning process.

One more idea to be added to my Idea Godown 🙂

Will let you know how the progress on this website goes. If you are aware of any such tour operator who already provides such packages focused on kid’s learning, please do let me know.

Parkinsonsvoice – check Parkinsons by making a phone call

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

I came across this interesting TED talk about how a person named Max Little is attempting to make it easy for early detection of Parkinson’s Disease, by allowing people to make a phone call and take a three minute test. The website to go to for this is .

This test aims at collecting about 10,000 samples and then using simple data mining techniques will identify the presence of Parkinson’s Disease and its stage in a person, based on the patterns identified in the samples that are collected.

I took this test and was impressed by the simplicity of the test – simplicity is one of the keys of very successful initiatives.

The test involves saying out your name, then saying a few short sentences and also making some funny sounds such as aaaaaaa, ooooooooooo, eeeeeeeee, etc. 🙂 . The idea here is to capture the vibrations of the vocal chords and see if they show signs of healthy ones or otherwise.

This video is quite thought provoking and made me think about a few ideas related to this:

  1. Currently this test is only available in nine countries (as of 1-Dec-2012) and that makes it quite limiting. This test can actually be enabled to be available directly on the website, thus allowing this to be available all over the world via the internet.
  2. This approach is so amazing and simple that the same process can be applied to many other fields in medical sciences and the results can be used to help detect diseases quite early.

Adding this to my Idea Godown 🙂 . Will update here on this topic if I make progress with this one.