Archive for December 4th, 2010

At over 3000 years old, Dogo Onsen is the oldest onsen in Japan, and it’s right here in Matsuyama. When the tourism bureau was considering these newfangled RF tag-based tourist guides, they hired a bunch of temps to explain the trial devices to tourists, and a friend of mine was among them. Being something of a technology buff, I had to go check it out.

There were actually two devices. The first was an LCD screen map on a lanyard that pointed out interesting things as you walked around the area. You could choose from two preprogrammed routes: one that took you to interesting historical locations, and one that took you to shopping locations in the area. You could also just walk around, and it would alert you when you got close to a point of interest. It was interesting, but struck me as a bit of a dumbed-down GPS navigation device.

The second device strapped to your wrist and felt much like an oversized wristwatch. To check the devices out, you had to fill out a paper with your home address and email address. The wristwatch device used RF tags to email you information on the shops whose RF “targets” you touched with your wrist. It felt kind of kludgy and inefficient, if you ask me.

Overall, a valiant first effort by whatever company put the program together, but not quite ready for prime time. The tourism bureau seems to agree, because the program was killed after a few weeks. I’m sure the technology will be ironed out in a few years. In the meantime, it was neat to have participated in the pilot program.

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