Sunday musings: World’s tallest building, seat space vs. in-flight entertainment, mobile payments


These are some articles to make you think. By prefabricating sections of a building, a Chinese construction company is planning to raise the tallest building in the world in only 90 days. Though passengers are asking for more space, airlines are packing in more travelers and providing more entertainment. Finally, get ready for mobile (cell phone) payments coming to a story near you.

The world’s tallest building to be built in only 90 days

The construction company building the new “tallest” building in the world in Changsa, China, is planning on erecting the building in only 90 days. The current tallest building in the world is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Standing at 828-meters tall, it took five years to complete.

Now, a Chinese construction company, Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), claims that it intends on building the tallest building, the eco-friendly Sky City tower, in Changsa, China, in a mere 90 days!

Preposterous as it may sound, these guys are dead serious. You might remember that viral YouTube video which circled the globe showing how a 30-story Chinese hotel was built in only 15 days. They’re the same guys. The skyscraper in Changsha will be built using more or less the same technique, whose lightning-fast pace secret is of prefabricating each floor – actually 95 percent of the building will be constructed in a factory before the construction team breaks ground. Still, assembling the tallest building in the world in only 90 days remains a monstrous task, and it’s cheap too, in skyscraper terms at least — $628 million.

Seat space versus in-flight entertainment

When airlines make the decision whether to add legroom or entertainment, the latter wins. Airlines are installing new thinner and lighter seating that allows them to pack more passengers into the same space. Even though passengers are crying out for more space, they are getting more doodads, added channels on TV and pay-per-view movies.

“It’s of more value for an airline to add two rows worth of seats and have a good inflight entertainment system rather than do the opposite and give passengers more legroom,” Aviation writer Mary Kirby told Australian online magazine, Technology Spectator.

I’m not shooting the messenger, but it’s good to see it in plain English. In my books, it is confirmation that the airline industry will do anything except what passengers really want. And IFE’s job is to quiet the grumbling of the masses.

As Kirby puts it, “It’s all about distracting the brain from the pain.”

Then again, what would you want? More legroom? Or, more entertainment on a 14-hour flight? The answers might surprise you.

Paying bills with your cell phone is on the way

It’s coming. Get ready. Soon, people in the United States will be paying bills for donuts, coffee, dinner, clothing — virtually anything — with their cell phones.

“Mobile payment is coming whether you are ready for it or not,” said Spencer Hanlon, executive director of marketing for AirPlus, speaking at the recent ACTE Global Education Conference in San Francisco. “It is going to be big. Very big.” In fact, mobile will account for $50 billion in payments by 2014, Hanlon said.

Millions of consumers already use mobile in Asia, waving their phones over a contactless terminal to make and verify payment for virtually any transaction. Similar systems combining a mobile wallet and near field communication (NFC) are appearing in Europe and the U.S.