A recently approved proposal to allow iPads to be installed in NYC taxis offers some very interesting possibilities, putting what may be the world's most popular game-playing gadget potentially in front of millions of taxi riders.?? Before getting too excited, note that this is just a year-long pilot program, currently approved for 30 cabs in New York (out of about 13,000 total).
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission is primarily interested in the iPad's credit card capabilities, and the tablets will be use Square's hardware and software to process payments (all NYC cabs currently accept credit cards, but the system can be clunky and hard to use at times).
Games aside, this is still great news for future taxi riders. Two companies currently supply the touchscreen monitors found in the back of nearly every cab, VeriFone Media and Creative Mobile Technologies. Both companies stream a variety of news and advertising (mostly advertising, really), along with weather and traffic information, and an interactive GPS map.
But, in actual use, these current-generation screens are almost universally hated, as any taxi rider blasted by high-volume TV commercials while stuck in traffic will tell you. The screens are slow to respond, and the controls often crash, leaving you with no way to turn them off or even mute them. And, if you do manage to turn off the screen, just brushing a knee up against it (almost impossible to avoid in many cabs) will turn everything back on.
Hopefully, a seat-mounted iPad will work much better, and be less crash-prone. ??There's no indication yet just how locked-down, software-wise, these new iPads will be. Presumably, they'd have a custom app pre-loaded to stream the same news and information taxi riders are used to getting, but allowing games would be an even better idea. ??Sure, a few rounds of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja would be fine, but the possibilities for interactive games actually related to your taxi ride is even better. Quizzes or trivia games could use GPS data to ask specific questions about the part of town you're in, or even offer a virtual tour guide.
Even bolder, a savvy marketer could create an advertorial-like game experience with badges or credits. Build up enough during one or several rides, and you could earn a dollar or two off your cab fare.
Of course, these are all hypothetical examples, and it's more likely the risk-averse TLC would not take kindly to ideas like that, but once iPads start showing up in taxis, I'd wager it's inevitable in the long run.
What kind of interactive game experiences do you think would work in an iPad-equipped taxi? share your ideas in the comments section below.