Long distance travel by buses will no longer be a dull affair as TouringTalkies, a startup company has come out with a novel idea to provide personal entertainment to bored and harried passengers. This is for those people who spend long hours travelling in the country. A business module, it can engage passengers by providing entertainment through the company's IPES (Intelligent Personal Entertainment System).
High end buses like Volvo and Mercedes plying on Indian roads have significant features, with multiple axles, reclining seats, tinted window glasses, and toilets facilities, but the only element missing was personal entertainment. To keep them occupied, the company provides personal entertainment where passengers can access recent hit movies in different categories, watch TV serials, get internet facilities, hear music, play games, read books, get news feeds and more.
The brain behind TouringTalkies business module is Naveen Krishnaswamy and Thejaswi Gurumurthy. While Thejaswi is settled in the US, Naveen operates from Bangalore. "Both of us have known each other for the past 25 years," says Naveen, who gave an insight into their two year old company which started operations only a year ago. "I was heading the Engineering Team at RedBus and I resigned in August 2011 to start this new module. Along with this, I also have around 15 years of experience in software industry and was keen to build a startup. Thejaswi who is also from software background is handling strategy and finance," he says.
The idea came around when both the partners had personally faced some boring experiences while travelling. "I was travelling to a destination and was watching a film, and could not understand the language. Similarly my partner Thejaswi had the same experience when he was travelling in the North. That's when the thought came about of having personalised and legal entertainment on buses too. So every time we met, we discussed about it in general and finally it fructified in August 2011. We took one year to do the R&D and only in May 2012, we started operations."
This product was completely built in Bangalore, fitted with IPES based module, followed by new innovations every day. "We have a server on board in the bus, which houses all the content. There are touch screen tablets in case of semi sleepers or fixed with smart boxes in sleepers. And people can choose the kind of entertainment they want. Apart from this, Internet, news, GPS operations all this can be accessed. We also have high end and low end systems also. We have stored the entire thing in a mini server for centralised viewing," adds Naveen.
Currently, 55 buses are registered with the company which is spread across Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, most parts of the south and up north, in Manali and Katra. "Around 10 high end buses from Bangalore have chosen our system. As days go by, this technology will help us to understand what people are exactly looking for while travelling long distances. To be precise, it is a very tough industry but definitely entertaining," says Naveen, who is all for creating a buzz for their new setup.
"The bus operators want some sort of differentiation especially people who own Volvo and Mercedes vehicles. There is good amount of marketing to be done. The industry is changing and we accept this as a normal thing. Probably in a year's time, we hope every bus will opt for such a personal entertainment system. As of now, the company is only concentrating on private buses and will slowly move towards approaching the government and also when more awareness is created about this. Private operators are currently showing keen interest. It is our conscious call that we first set it up in private buses and then approach the government," he explains.
It is not operated on subscription basis. It is an onetime cost payment. "Subsequently, people will value the added features through which bus operators can make money as gradually more features are added. "Movies are pretty huge and difficult with the bandwidth available. So the movie updates happen manually. We have deployed a person who manually updates the movies once in a month and usually store 30 movies of different genres and languages. While other facilities like Internet, games, book reading happen with our centralised system in Bangalore. We have also tied up with distributors in Bollywood and other languages for providing us their latest films."
The first bus to be installed with this system was from Chennai to Trivandrum.
"It was fabulous. First time, we had implemented on a Mercedes bus and almost for a month the bus was running completely full. People were impressed but we had understood various kinds of problems and decided to move forward. Usually, people would like to see the latest. So the challenge was how to manage the content. We are trying out various options to refresh content as soon as possible. Providing good quality ear phones is a priority. Apart from that people are really enjoying while kids love playing games and watching cartoons."
The company cannot show a movie that is still running in the theatres.
"Today theatres are already facing piracy issues and so our business module is the key. Our goal is to provide innovative solutions with abundant content and more entertainment options to capture more participants. We are exploring revenue opportunities through advertisements which are very interactive and more targeted. Right now, we are concentrating on buses. We need another one year for people to absorb the importance of entertainment on the move," signs off Naveen hopefully.