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Business Traveller

BUSINESS TRAVELLER for December 8th, 2007

Aired December 08, 2007 - 09:30   ET


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Hello! And welcome to CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER. I'm Richard Quest, this month reporting from Tokyo in Japan. The program is all about technology. And the Mori Tower here is a perfect place where we get a magnificent vista of the city where we are going to spend the next half an hour.

We are looking at the gadgets and the ideas that help make our traveling life much easier on the road. Tokyo is the perfect place to do that. Over the next half hour, we will look at the good, the bad, and the unnecessary.

So, coming up.

(voice-over): . the future of travel. Your phone is your boarding pass. High-tech hotels, what you really need. And when does it all get a bit too much? And the virtual workplace, whether it is a virtue taking your office on the road.

(on camera): In any city the size of Tokyo, well, I'm apt to get a bit lonely if I'm talking about technology and gadgets. I need a friend, and I think I have found just the one. Meet Tommy (ph), my robot dog, who is going to be my companion on this search into the future.

(voice-over): First, the future of travel, and in Japan they are quantum leaps ahead of the rest of us. If you are traveling there today, a new service is on offer that helps you get through the airport quickly and onto the plane.

It is the mobile phone check-in, a paperless system in which passenger details are read directly from the mobile via a bar code. It all sounds very impressive, but does it work? All Nippon Airways, ANA, is already using the system, so we put it to the test.

(on camera): What are we aiming to do?

ROB HENDERSON, ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS: OK. Well, today is Friday, the weather is a bit bad in Tokyo. So let's fly out for the weekend to Okinawa, down south, where the weather is going to be beautiful tomorrow. I have got my hotel reserved, all I need to do now is (INAUDIBLE) my flight up.

QUEST: Start now.

(voice-over): Let's see how long it takes.

HENDERSON: Bear with me.

QUEST: Rob has to buy his ticket and reserve his seat.

HENDERSON: Given us a choice of fares.

QUEST: After that, he should get an e-mail with a link to a two- dimensional bar code. That 2-D will serve as his boarding pass, and can be read directly from the screen of his phone.

(on camera): Ah, the bar code!

(voice-over): The process only took about two minutes. That is partly to do with the efficiency of the Japan's mobile phone networks, and partly because ANA has a Web site set up for mobile check-in.

(on camera): I mean, it is very, very clever, isn't it?

So we have made the reservation. We have paid for the ticket, and we have chosen our seat, what happens next?

HENDERSON: The bar code then is brought up on your screen. And you use that bar code to get on your flight.

QUEST (voice-over): This I have to see.

(on camera): All right. We are at Haneda Airport. We have bought the ticket. We have got the bar code. Now we need to go to one of those machines over there and use that.

HENDERSON: No, not at all, actually. All we need to, to go, is straight to security, because we don't need to check in.

QUEST: But hang on a second, Rob.


QUEST: Where is the ID?

HENDERSON: There is no ID check, because it is domestic. We don't have an ID check in Japan for domestic travel.

QUEST: So you have still got some way to go for international travel?

HENDERSON: That is right. For international, there is another step where you would need to introduce your passport.

QUEST: Right.

HENDERSON: If you put through to your bar code, you put it to this window, and it prints the receipt out, and you take that, and you go through it.

QUEST: That is really cool. So you haven't talked to anyone.

(INAUDIBLE) our gate.

HENDERSON: Sixty-four.

QUEST: Gate 64, 14-J, have a safe flight.

HENDERSON: Thank you very much. Hey, Richard.

QUEST (voice-over): In October of this year, the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, announced a global standard for mobile 2-D bar codes. It will pave the way for other airlines to follow suit. Air Canada, Air Berlin, and Spanair have also recently launched similar services. And it is clearly just a matter of time before airlines of the big alliances join in.

(on camera): Rob is now on his way to Okinawa, and I'm having a distinct attack of gadget envy. His is clearly better than mine. I promised you the good, the bad, and the unnecessary. It is time to go shopping.

(voice-over): Tokyo's electronic mecca, if you are a gadget, then this is your paradise. There are hundreds of shops here. I'm going to head into one of the biggest, Yodobashi Camera.

You can find pretty much anything here, every gadget, gizmo, stuff you need, stuff you don't need, stuff you think you need.

(on camera): When you first come to a store like this, you feel like a kid in a candy store. Look at all of these marvelous new phones. And then you feel like "Alice in Wonderland" as you realize you can't take any of this technology home. It won't work on your mobile phone system.

But that ignores the point. You come to a store like this to see the potential.

(voice-over): Enter tech trends Michael Keferl. He is here to guide me through this electronic maze, to find the best, newest gadgets for the BUSINESS TRAVELLER.

MICHAEL KEFERL, TREND CONSULTANT, CSCOUT JAPAN: This is the FLP (ph) Biblio, it is the world's smallest tablet combination PC running Windows Vista. It can do just about everything you can do with a standard laptop, but it is incredibly small.

QUEST (on camera): And it has some great little (INAUDIBLE) what, look at this. Watch, watch.

Woo, magic. You will get admiring glances on planes if you have got that. I'm not sure you will get much work done. Move on.

The technology in this phone could become really useful. It is going to -- it basically scans business cards.

Has it done it properly?

KEFERL: Yes. E-mail address, address, everything about her business, phone number, everything is perfect.

QUEST (voice-over): A mobile phone that instantly translates text from Japanese to English and vice versa, now that is useful.

(on camera): It may be very rudimentary to start with, within short order, this is going to be hot stuff.

Whenever I have seen phones with television pictures on before, it has usually just been a demonstration. But this is real.

KEFERL: Yes, this is absolutely real. This is one-seg. (ph) television. So it is digital one-seg. coming in through the air.

QUEST: It is finger-licking good.

(voice-over): A PDA with one-seg. TV might be handy on long commutes, perhaps a bit of a novelty, still, it is not completely useless. For that, I head to a corner shop. The prize for the totally superfluous gadget goes to the Rumble Sonic (ph).

(on camera): What does this do? You push it against the bone and it literally conducts and vibrates the music into your head.

(voice-over): I know what you are thinking, what on earth would I use that for? Ah, it is becoming clear, a mobile phone for the hearing impaired based on the same concept.

(on camera): Vibration to the bone.


(voice-over): The man behind it, Naoki Sakai. He has designed everything from cars to cameras, including Nissan's Be-1 vehicle, and the Olympus O-Product camera. Today his passion is mobile phones, gold ones, silver ones, small ones, big ones, even waterproof ones.

(on camera): Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello? Hi. Still here.

QUEST: Oh, that is impressive. That is impressive. It worked.

(voice-over): Sakai and his team design phones for the Japanese telecom operation KDDI.

SAKAI: Our country has four seasons. Every three months, we must a new model, like the fashion business.

QUEST: Every year, every season, that adds up to a lot of phones. And walking through this studio, it is amazing just how many phones around the world originated here in Japan.

(on camera): This is famous. And this one.

SAKAI: This is very famous. This is single (ph) (INAUDIBLE) for old men.

QUEST: What?

(voice-over): Whether they are for old men or otherwise, how does Sakai come up with his ideas?

(on camera): You have done fashion. You have done cars. And now you are doing mobile phones. Do you like designing mobile phones?

SAKAI: Only 10 percent of people are interested in cars. But mobile phones, almost 90 percent of people have interest in new designs.

QUEST: Are there certain things that a phone must have? And there is a different way in which the Japanese consumer looks at a phone than the rest of the world?

SAKAI: Majority is, you know, U.S. and E.U., and China. Such kind of people think about, you know, mobile phone, just the phone call, and maybe e-mail, that is enough. But Japanese young people like, you know, many kind of cultures, music, you know, videos, games. Consumer is very smart and maker must do much better things, always.

QUEST (voice-over): Mobile phones and electro-gadgets are just the beginning. After the break, how Japan is leading the way in technology of the hotel and the office.




QUEST: Welcome back to CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER, where I'm on a high- tech trip to Tokyo. Now back to my hotel, and time to do some work.

(voice-over): I need to catch up on my e-mails and phone calls. It is a good thing I found another smart traveller tool to help me. It is called BeInSync.

(on camera): It basically keeps my laptop, when I'm traveling, perfectly synced with my computer, my PC back home, and any other people who I want to share files with.

(voice-over): You can download the program off the Internet. It costs $60 for a year's subscription to the premium level.

(on camera): The way the system works is simple. You select a folder. You then ask BeInSync to keep track of it.

(voice-over): So all of these files are instantly updated on the computers I have chosen to sync up. When I get home, I can just carry on working. It also acts as a very good backup.

(on camera): The only problem, you have to be careful. BeInSync is a very powerful program. You could end up with things going from your home PC to your work laptop that you would rather not have your colleagues know about.

(voice-over): Working from hotel rooms is something all of us do when we travel, and try as we may to make it a makeshift office, we are so often let down by our technologies. Hotels, it seems, are plugging into this gap.

It is all here for the taking. I'm visiting one of Tokyo's newest and most technologically advanced hotels. It is, of course, The Peninsula. High-tech resides in every nook and cranny.

(on camera): If there was ever an example of the amount technology in hotel rooms, it has to be in here. Just look at it. I have got a two-line telephone, emergency assistance, a privacy button; and as for the toilet controls themselves, you can oscillate the water, massage, all sorts of things.

Oh yes, best of all, it will even do some things on its own.

(voice-over): And these are the people who make the technology happen. It isn't a science laboratory, it is The Peninsula's research and development division, based in Hong Kong. People in white coats buzzing about, pushing lots of buttons, it is all with the express purpose of making our hotel rooms more intelligent, or so they say.

BRADLEY COCKS, KIWI COLLECTION: Business travellers are starting to expect a lot more personalization, convenience, comfort, and integration with their lifestyles. And business hotels, luxury hotels are starting to clue into this, and they are looking at technology to provide the solutions.

QUEST: Integration, I guess that means everything needs to talk to everything else. Fraser Hickox knows every hotel gadget, and he has been creating new technologies for The Peninsula for decades.

(on camera): So I'm in the bath.


QUEST: And a call comes in.

HICKOX: Just press one of the line (ph) buttons or the pickup button. And it automatically mutes the television. When you finish the call, the television will then resume. Everything has to work together.

QUEST (voice-over): Is all of this technology necessary?

COCKS: If it is not executed properly, if it doesn't have a certain place, if it doesn't have practicality, then it is useless. So you can have all of the technology you want in a room, if it is not easily managed, then it is worthless.

QUEST: When it comes to technology, apparently success rests with your mother.

HICKOX: I think any technology we put in a room, you should be able to subject your mother to. Your mother should be comfortable with it. It has got to be simple and it has got to be useful. And function rules over form, always.

QUEST: At the end of the day, we always want the basics in our room to come back to: the Internet, some good old telly, and a comfortable night's sleep.

Paperwork done, time to head to an appointment at an office that has developed a novel way of doing business.

(on camera): Now to see what the future really looks like.

Hello. I'm here for my meeting. Where am I going?

We are going to meet something far more advanced than you.

Odote (ph).

(voice-over): PaPeRo is NEC's interactive robot, and provides the entertainment while I wait. He is considered one of the most advanced robots in the world. It has taken 10 years to develop this -- oh, sorry, him.

(on camera): And now I want to introduce you to Tommy.

(voice-over): He already recognizes faces and voices and responds to numerous commands. NEC says it is only matter of time before PaPeRo becomes your personal helper at home or at work, an automated assistant.

That is just the beginning.

(on camera): In this room they are planning the way we will work in the future. You won't necessarily have your own desk or even your own space, so long as you have got your own computer, and your phone, you can videoconferencing with your colleagues around the world.



QUEST: I thought I would pop in and say, hello.

(voice-over): Now, of course, we already have Skype and there are similar services out there. But what sets this one apart is that it is a secure system specifically designed for your company.

(on camera): The important thing to remember about what we are witnessing is that both parties are working on the same document at the same time and seeing each other, and they could be on the other side of the world.

(voice-over): A virtual portable office, and when the work is done, time for some rest and relaxation. After the break, what to do with your leisure time in Tokyo, from sunrise to sunset.




QUEST: They don't call this the Tokyo City View for nothing. It is quite amazing. Over there is Haneda Airport where we were earlier in the program. And that is the Tokyo Tower.

When it comes to spending leisure time in Tokyo, you might be a bit overwhelmed, and that would be a mistake, because you can actually see quite a lot of the city from sunrise to sunset.

You might not immediately think about doing something that could help save your life, but remember, Japan is the land of the earthquakes. So I have come here, to the Tokyo Fire Department to get some advice, some information that might help save our lives. And this is open to the general public.

So what are we going to experience here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can experience earthquake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . earthquake, right?

QUEST: Why am I under the table?


All right. Now it is quite down, so maybe you can try gas, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And maybe, you know, you have to beware of aftershock, right? So maybe leave the doors open. Maybe you can fit the chair. (INAUDIBLE) come back.

QUEST: Worth mentioning this is an educational tool. It is most certainly not a fun fair ride. But in many ways, more frightening than anything else that I have experienced in a fun fair.

(voice-over): Now the smoke room.

(on camera): For years, like the rest of you, I have pretty much ignored those instructions on the back of hotel doors telling me what to do in the event of fire. I have always wondered what it would be really like with all of that smoke.

Oh my goodness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep your posture low.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You shouldn't inhale the toxic smoke, right?

QUEST: Oh, you are right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you had handkerchief, (INAUDIBLE), if you don't, tie or collar on shirt.

QUEST: By now I admit it, I'm completely lost. I think I'm going to need some help finding the way out of here.

(voice-over): Lunchtime, and I have got to make it quick. So in the land of technology, fast and furious, then it is time to use the automated noodle bars dotted around the city.

(on camera): I have tried to work out is there some system that will help you order the simplest of food so you don't end up with something you can't or don't like to eat? It seems to me that if you stick to those buttons on the left and near the top, and you go for those that are the cheapest, well, you will end up with the easiest and simplest noodles.

That is my theory, let's put it to the test, 280, lunch. You do have to be prepared to basically point if what you get is not what you like. Oh! Fingo (ph)! Bon appetite.

By the time sun sets, there is plenty of things to be doing in Tokyo. But they don't all involve looking at bright neon lights and singing karaoke. Instead, take to the water, and it doesn't have to be in a big ship like that. You can go on something rather futurist.

Come on, Tommy! We are going on a boat ride.

(voice-over): The Himiko Waterbus has been designed by one of Japan's best-known cartoonists, Reiji Matsumoto. Shaped like a teardrop, the ship takes passengers down Tokyo Bay seven days a week and can also be chartered for private parties.

From sunrise to sunset, it is that perfect way to get a panoramic 360 view of Tokyo.

(on camera): And that CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER for this month. I'm Richard Quest, reporting from Tokyo, Japan. You can take this modern business too far. Sometimes it is better to do things the old-fashioned way.


QUEST: My hat! My bag is in the car. You had better be dressed correctly if you are going to ride in a 1934 Phantom vintage.

Thank you.

Wherever your travels may take you, I hope it is profitable. And I will see you next month.

The airport, Narita!