Coactus, a ride-hailing service in South Korea, has teamed up with SK Telecom in the past two years to upgrade its services using technologies such as smart watches and specially-designed devices.
Established in 2018 by Goyohan Taxi Service, what sets Coactus apart is that its vehicles are driven by deaf drivers – an essential part of its social venture supporting people with hearing loss.
Goyohan Mobility launched
Both companies upped their game as they announced yesterday an extended collaboration to introduce a new service developed for deaf drivers. Named Goyohan Mobility, the app-based ride-hailing service powered by SK Telecom’s advanced technologies, will launch in Korea on August 1, 2020.
To enhance the safety and convenience of deaf drivers, SK Telecom equipped the vehicles with an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) specially developed for deaf drivers, and provided the drivers with T Care Smart Watch, a smart device also tailored to their needs.
The ADAS provides forward collision, lane departure and pedestrian collision warnings not only on a display screen but also through vibration on T Care Smart Watch worn around the driver’s wrist. In emergency situations, drivers can simply press the SOS button on the smart watch to make immediate contact with the police and transmit the driver’s real-time location.
“We are excited to launch Goyohan Mobility through our ongoing collaboration with SK Telecom,” said Song Min-pyo, CEO of Coactus. “Through the use of technology, we will not only provide quality jobs to people with hearing impairments, but at the same time make sure that Goyohan Mobility becomes well-received by the public for its high-quality services”
Goyohan Mobility is expected to create a stable work environment as the drivers will be hired directly by Coactus and receive monthly salaries. Coactus will start by operating a total of 10 vehicles driven by 15 deaf drivers, and plans to increase these numbers to 100 vehicles and 200 drivers by 2021.
“Our partnership with Coactus highlights our commitment to create social value and business value simultaneously,” said Yeo Ji-young, vice president and head of Open Collaboration Group of SK Telecom. “We will continue to seek innovative ways to address social issues, including employment of people with disabilities, by fully utilizing our ICT to strengthen social safety net for the underprivileged.”
Using technologies to elevate Coactus service
For the last two years, Coactus has been working with SK Telecom to equip the vehicles with technologies aimed at helping the drivers and their customers communicate better with each other. Specifically, the taxis have been fitted with tablets installed with an app that enables smooth communications between deaf taxi drivers and their passengers.
Besides connecting Coactus to SK Telecom’s T-Map taxi-hailing app, the mobile carrier also developed and applied a feature that provides flashing _alerts to notify drivers of incoming calls as well as a messaging feature that enables communication between drivers and customers before starting a journey.
It also began operating a program to recruit and nurture deaf taxi drivers by providing education and training to help them obtain a taxi license to get a new job opportunity. So far, the program has produced a total of 62 taxi drivers.
Moreover, SK Telecom is running a special support centre to address the challenges and difficulties deaf drivers experience on the job through video calls in sign language.
Their efforts led to international recognition and awards. In February 2020, the two companies won the ‘Best Use of Mobile for Accessibility & Inclusion’ category of the GSMA Global Mobile Awards 2020 (GLOMO Awards).