TOKYO (July 13): SoftBank Group Corp is rolling out a new app that will let drivers find and reserve parking spaces across Japan.
The new service, called BLUU Smart Parking, will let drivers find open parking spots, reserve them in advance and pay fees using smartphones. Each location will have cameras and magnetic sensors to monitor cars as they enter and leave, instead of the restraining locks that are common in Japan. SoftBank, which didn’t disclose revenue targets or the size of its initial investment in BLUU, is initially looking to work with companies that want to rent out space. The trial version begins next month, followed by a full launch in October.
SoftBank, which has invested in ride-sharing services including Uber Technologies Inc, said it’s aiming to change how people park, using data compiled through BLUU. While Japan has lagged behind the U.S. in sharing-economy services, they are catching on.
Now, SoftBank is seeking to leap ahead by offering such services for drivers. Sensors used for the service are cheaper than traditional physical locks, lowering the hurdle for companies to set up parking services, according to Hidefumi Kitahara, SoftBank’s head of technology strategy.
“Once people understand the convenience of sharing economy, it is going to spread,” Kitahara told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo. The company wants to “make use of under-utilized assets” in high-demand areas, he said.