Uber Now Has a Glowing Device to Ensure Riders Enter the Right Cab

December 16, 2016, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

We have often seen software firms stepping on to hardware departments. The latest in this batch was Snapchat, which transformed itself to Snap Inc. with the launch of Spectacles. Now, Uber is following the suit with the launch of a new hardware product. But unlike the rest, Uber’s new hardware device will solely have the aim of assisting its parent service, i.e. ride sharing.

Called Beacon, this new glowing piece of plastic from Uber bears the company logo, and its purpose is to aid riders in finding the right cab. The device will be provided to cab riders who can affix the plastic hardware on the windshields. There ends the relation of Beacon with drivers, and the control of the device is then handed over to the riders.

Once they fix a ride, users will be given the choice of setting a color in their app, and this very color will get glowing in the Beacon, thanks to its inbuilt Bluetooth support. The purpose here is simple; to avoid confusion among riders in getting inside the right cab. It can be certainly be avoided by giving a check on the license plates, but Uber says this initiative will offer a more convenient and personalized way of recognizing the ride to the users.

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This is not the first time that Uber is giving a shot at hardware outputs to ease ride pickups. Earlier, they had launched a product pilot in Seattle called Spot, which was a strip of LED light which the driver can affix behind their rear-view mirrors. Similar to Beacon, Spot emitted lights as designated by the user. But comparatively, Beacon offers a more cost-effective solution to the company, which should help them in globally rolling out the devices for its 1.5 million drivers.

Beacon will be initially tested across five locations: Miami, Nashville, Denver, Belfast and Newcastle. Drivers will be provided with Beacon free of cost, and it will also include the charging kit for keeping the Beacon powered up. Uber is planning to roll out the device to its entire drivers by the end of 2017.

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