The launch of long-awaited 3G, it is said, will revolutionise the driving experience for Thai motorists, connecting them instantly via smartphone apps to online multimedia, something motorists in other countries have enjoyed for years.
``One such app being developed especially for the Thai market in anticipation of the 3G launch is music-Chef or m-Chef,'' said Itti Rittaporn, the general manager of content for electric vehicles at Toyota Tsusho Electronics (Thailand), the manufacturer of embedded software for automobiles under Japan's Toyota Group.
``This app, probably the first of its kind in Thailand, will work only if there is high-speed connectivity.''
The m-Chef app automatically customises and selects songs according to the car's topographical location, taking into consideration the type of weather and temperature at that moment.
Data on the car's whereabouts and external environment are delivered to the central server, where songs are selected.
Whether driving near the sea on a bright summer's day or in the mountains during a driving rainstorm, the app will play songs related to that driving experience. Songs can be skipped or replayed by the driver.
Of course, Thai songs will be available, as the app gives the listener more control than over the radio, said Dr Itti.
He said if 3G arrives this year, m-Chef can be launched by the beginning of 2013.
``We'd like to develop more apps such as this, ones that enhance the motorist's experience, but for this to happen we need to have a high-speed telecom infrastructure, be it 3G, GPRS or SIM cards that are widely available at reasonable prices,'' he said, noting that data packages in Thailand are still considered expensive.
Most data packages in the country cost 699-799 baht, which is expensive considering the average income of Thais, said Dr Itti.
He said Japan offers unlimited data packages for about 1,000 baht, and the Japanese earn several times what Thais do.
Japanese data packages are also flexible, allowing daily, weekly and monthly use.
Japan uses long-term evolution or 4G, the fourth generation of wireless communications, providing higher-speed data for mobile phones than 3G.
Thailand's telecommunications infrastructure is weak due to a lack of competition, keeping costs high, said Dr Itti.
Japan's high-speed 4G enables apps with dynamic point-of-interest content such as navigation maps that connect motorists to the world around them, and such an experience should be enjoyed by Thai motorists as well, he said.
When motorists drive past The Emporium shopping mall, apps should inform them what sales are on and which brands and products are available, said Dr Itti.
Another mobile app suitable for Thailand when 3G arrives is what Dr Itti calls a tourist app that acts like a multilingual tour guide.For tourists visiting Ayutthaya, for example, the app will explain the history of the city as well as provide location-based information about restaurants and other attractions in different languages, said Dr Itti.
This app could be modelled after one in Japan called Theme Park Navigator used by the Nagoya Zoo to provide mobile information on animals as visitors stroll along, he said.
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- Writer: Soonya Vanichkorn