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Monday, November 08, 2004

Great ideas from China

    Posted by Adam Crouch

Source: ContiTechFor all of the good ideas developed in the US and Australia, there are many, many more that arise elsewhere. Sometimes these ideas quickly arrive on our shores, and sometimes they never get here.

I remember admiring video jukeboxes in Havana, autorickshaws in Bombay, book vending machines in São Paulo, and toll plazas that don't require you to slow down in Singapore. Each one left me thinking, "Why hasn't any entrepreneur brought this to the US? Maybe I should try..."

The Globe and Mail brings us a "Top 10 list of what China does better than Canada". It includes everything from a single debit card that can be used on taxis, subways, and buses, to hooks underneath of tables to hang purses from, which is much more secure from thievery than hanging it on the back of one's chair. My favorite is this one:
2. Informative stop lights

In Tianjin, a city of 13 million people, traffic lights display red or green signals in a rectangle that rhythmically shrinks down as the time remaining evaporates. In Beijing, some traffic lights offer a countdown clock for both green and red signals.

During a red light, you know whether you have time to check that map; on a green light, you know whether to start braking a block away -- or to stomp on the accelerator, as though you were a Toronto or Montreal driver. (That's probably why Montreal has a few lights with countdown seconds for pedestrians.)

Most of the ideas involve using technology to solve everyday problems, even though China isn't nearly as technologically developed as Canada is. I would think that this is probably due to the fact that when you are starting from scratch, it's much easier to do things the right way, as opposed to developed countries, where there's already a way in place that "works well enough". I really hope some of these eventually make their way here, especially the traffic lights.

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