This week at a transport conference in Berlin, UrbanThings CEO Carl Partridge unveiled the Hex Tag to operators from Europe and further afield.
This represents the first public outing of a core technology innovation behind Ticketless.
A Hex Tag is a 3-in-1 combination of NFC, QR and Bluetooth used to uniquely identify a vehicle. By letting a passenger’s smartphone know the exact vehicle they’re travelling on, we can do something pretty exciting. We can flip tradition on its head and use your phone as a sole, trusted ticket validator. The result: a MaaS-ready, future-proof validation and fare collection system for 95% less capital investment than old-fashioned ticket machines.
Hex Tag, say hello to buses, trains, bikes, e-taxis, rental scooters, autonomous vehicles — the flexibility and low cost of the format means that it can sit within any mobility service. The Ticketless app uses them to track not only when you’ve entered a vehicle, but also when you get off. This new, innovative form of Be-In/Be-Out ticketing ensures that passengers pay the best price for the transport that they use.
More functionality, lower price. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? It makes you wonder why something like this wasn’t done sooner.
The Hex Tag is the culmination of a lot of big advancements in mobile tech in recent years. It isn’t until now that all the pieces fit so perfectly together in the palms of passengers’ hands.
Widespread 4G data coverage, robust biometric security, cross-platform NFC, leaner smarter Bluetooth… For the first time, people are now carrying fully secure smart payment systems in their pockets. Hex Tags allow transport operators to harness that power without any of the overheads of traditional hardware solutions.
Ticketless and Hex Tags are more than just a way for operators to get low cost m-Ticketing. They’re a vision for the future. A future of smaller-occupancy on-demand transport vehicles which aren’t built to house bulky ticket machines. A future of sustainable cities with cycle share schemes. A future where people are free to design their own travel systems to suit their needs.
A flexible future needs a system that can be deployed in days, not months, and doesn’t price innovative new players out of the game.
One last thing. We’re not keeping Hex Tags to ourselves; we are releasing the format as an open specification for vehicle identification. These embedded vehicle IDs can integrate seamlessly and affordably with third party apps, unlock innovations in customer service, fault reporting, route optimisation, driver training… We can’t wait to see what the community comes up with.
We can’t wait to share with you some examples of Hex Tags in action. Stay tuned over the coming months to learn more!