- Touchless is a License Plate Recognition (LPR) platform that will function as an online automated entry and payment system for parking lots around the Klang Valley.
- The system will allow drivers and parking lot operators do away with the traditional parking entry systems that use tickets, access cards, and cash, and instead will run through an online platform with an accompanying app.
- The service will first implement in the Klang Valley, with future plans to expand regionally around Southeast Asia.
Urban Malaysian drivers are well-acquainted with the pains that come with parking their vehicles in crowded spots. Aside from the congestion, the hassle of having to pay for parking is something that makes a bad parking experience worse.
With the current system, there is always the risk of a lost ticket, not enough loose change to make payments with, and long lines at the ticket machines or the parking lot exits (and your ticket payment expiring as you wait to exit).
While there’s sometimes the option of using Touch ‘n Go, the added surcharge doesn’t always make it an attractive solution.
Aiming to revolutionise parking in Malaysia, Touchless hopes to offer an answer to all the aforementioned problems by introducing License Plate Recognition (LPR)—a technology to recognise number plates and manage entry, exit, and payment all through a mobile application.
Touchless was founded by Mohammad Aljlal (or better known as Moe) and partners in February 2017, with the idea of ticket-free parking system coming to Moe during an incident where he was stuck at a toll booth without his Touch ‘n Go card.
“I couldn’t find my Touch ‘n Go card for payment,” he said. “And as frustrating as it was to lose the card, I and everyone else in line had to reverse our cars during the rush hour. It was so embarrassing.”
Following that incident, Moe posed a number of questions to him and his friends: “Why do I need to stop and tap the card?”, “Why do I need to carry all these cards in a big, fat wallet?”, “Can’t we just forget cards, cash, and the struggling?”
Finally he also asked: “Is there an easier way of dealing with these mandatory and frustrating payment methods?”
“Quickly we figured out that the answer was ‘yes’,” Moe said. “And that is how we came up with Touchless.”
Parking Without The Hassle
The Touchless system works through a technology that scans vehicle number plates at the entry points of parking lots, with recognition of the plates performed within milliseconds.
Users can register their number plates online, and can then enter any location that uses the Touchless system. They can also pay for parking through the Touchless mobile app, making the whole experience truly free of tickets, cards, and cash.
“The bottom line is convenience,” said Moe. “Users will love how they can go in and out of a parking area without the need to open the window or carry five different access cards with them.”
As for parking lot operators, the Touchless system will aim to help them save up to 35% in operation costs by eliminating the need for various components such as machines and tickets, and also help them operate more efficiently through time-saving.
Moe promises that the system will be easy to install, be cost-effective, and will integrate with any system already in place. Parking lot operators will also be able to use Touchless to analyse user behaviour and make operation-related decisions such as price adjustments, traffic regulation, and expansion plans.
Room To Grow
While LPR isn’t exactly a new concept, the adoption of the technology is still not widespread in Malaysia, and this is something that Moe hopes to capitalise on.
“Looking at the market, it seems that competition isn’t yet too healthy,” he said. “We see a place for us to grow and compete.”
“We are a people-driven—not revenue-driven—solution, and we look to make an impact in people’s life through utilising the latest and smartest tech in the market.”
Having started up with a revenue of US$100k, Moe hopes that Touchless will become the main supplier of parking technology within the next three years.
“What motivates us the most is the reactions we receive from people in regards to the technology we are building,” he said. “We interviewed hundreds of people as well as most of the big parking providers in the Klang Valley, and when we proposed our solution, many of them got excited and starting coming up with ideas for implementation.”
Klang Valley And Beyond
Currently, the Touchless team are working hard on improving their service and security features before fully releasing their product to the mass market.
“Security is where our team places a lot of effort,” Moe said. “There are multiple layers of security that we implement and we are working with users and clients to make Touchless more safe.”
Another thing Touchless is working on is dealing with the bad readability of Malaysian number plates.
According to Moe, Malaysian number plates are notoriously difficult to read due to their non-standardised nature (e.g. drivers can switch and pick typefaces, fancy plates such as 1M4U and BAMBEE), and the lack of a reflective surface (which makes it easier to read in the dark).
But despite these hurdles, Moe stated that Touchless currently boasts the highest accuracy rate of any LPR platform in the country, with a rating of 98% accuracy.
“We recently implemented a proof of concept in Cyberjaya, and now we are finalising the solution before launching the product officially.”
Currently, Touchless aims to implement within the Klang Valley, with plans to eventually expand their service throughout the Southeast Asia region.
Of course, they’re not the only organisation trying for “hands-free” methods locally. Malaysia is already in the midst of testing out RFID (radio frequency identification) devices for tolls, with various reports stating an early or mid-year rollout. Singaporeans have been successfully using RFID technology for years, for both their parking and tolls.
It remains to be seen which system will win out here, but Touchless looks to be off to a good start.
Feature Image Credit: Touchless