10 November 2005

Wireless Assistance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Navigating Beijing can be a nightmare for Westerners, who presumably will provide the bulk of attendance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.* Unlike countries where an Indo-European language is spoken (i.e., the vast majority of previous olympiads), in China the writing system is entirely different, public transportation is inadequate, and the city has been almost entirely rebuilt in the last 15 years. In order to help the influx of foreign guests cope, Capinfo (HK) is essentially filling in the gap left by the city's city services:
Vnuenet: Capinfo, a Hong Kong-listed software and services company, is developing a mobile application called Cityguide to help tourists find their way around the Chinese capital.

The application, which will be downloadable to various handheld devices and mobile phones, will use a ubiquitous wireless network being deployed across Beijing for the Games.

The system accesses a database of travel and tourism content for the city, as well as providing a tool that can translate English text into spoken Mandarin, using text-to-speech technology.

The application will be capable of playing back thousands of phrases in Mandarin, such as directing taxi drivers to any hotel or restaurant listed in the guide....

Following the Games, Capinfo will build similar services in other Chinese cities, beginning with Shanghai, before taking Cityguide into the global market. Capinfo is also developing an emergency response service for the Games, similar to the 999 service in the UK, that will use the wireless network.
(Via Textually)

* Westerners... presumably will provide the bulk of attendance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, because movement inside China is costly and requires internal passports for Chinese citizens.

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