J-Phone said that on March 3 it will launch “Loco Guide,” a new service that utilizes the J-Sky mobile Internet to bring a broad range of local information to customers based on their current location. Loco Guide searches for location-specific contents so users can quickly obtain information on transportation, restaurants, leisure spots, banks, hospitals, and other services. Previously users had to search different J-Sky content services to obtain location-specific information. However, with Logo Guide, users can now access the contents of multiple sites simultaneously, thereby eliminating the inconvenience of searching different sites to find relevant information.
The Loco Guide systems accesses content from 23 sites (18 content providers); J-Phone plans to expand the lineup in the future. Loco Guide uses a total of 482 area designations in Japan based on NTT DoCoMo’s “open i-area” standard (used for i-mode’s “i-area” service). Matthew Nicholson at J-Phone PR provided some Q&A details on how the system works:
Q. What technology does the system use? Is it cell-based?
A. Yes, the nearest base station senses the current location. The Loco Guide portal will automatically arrange content based on the current location (you can change the location too, to search Sapporo City, for example). The technology is based on our “Station” location-based service for content delivery.
Q. Is it a new database, or is it based on existing systems?
A. The database is actually not so complicated. It takes currently existing contents and rearranges them according to location.
Q. How did you find the content providers?
A. The service is based on existing contents so we already have relationships with these CPs (we of course obtained their cooperation for this new service). This service provides another gateway (which is location-based) for accessing content to make our Web services more convenient for customers.
Q. Can CPs update their service data in real-time? e.g. Can a restaurant run a “seat sale” between, say, 17:00-19:00, if business is a little slow one day?
A. CPs can generally update their content on the J-Sky platform (and Loco Guide) when necessary (e.g., add a new restaurant, delete a restaurant when it’s closed, change a train timetable). The updating method varies; different CPs use different systems.