Technology of the Future Made in Portugal

Technology made in Portugal

Media reports have been buzzing about Apple’s latest gadget, the iPad. Among the mixed reactions (“it’s brilliant!” “where’s the novelty?”), there is also much excitement over flat devices where you can carry your entire life around with you. What we’re seeing is just the beginning of an upcoming technological revolution, and Portugal is set to become a big contributor. The country is actually a quiet technology leader, from wind and solar-powered energy to computer software. If you ever use the ATM in Portugal, you’ll see that it seems that Portugal is using Windows 7 while the rest of the world’s ATMs are still running MsDOS. The Portuguese do everything at the ATM (the “Multibanco“), from paying their monthly bills, to pre-paying their cell phone service, to even ordering concert tickets (there are currently 60 different functionalities possible at Portuguese ATMs). That also means that for many bank services you don’t have to wait to get back home or the office to use online banking, and you don’t have to stand in line at the bank, since you can do that right away, around the corner at the ATM. Having been living in Lisbon for half a dozen years, I have taken these conveniences for granted until I return to the United States and see lines of people at the bank still cashing their salary’s check on Fridays, or using the obsolete-looking ATMs. I also remember passing through New York’s EZ Pass, only to discover later that it is actually a technology developed in Portugal known as “Via Verde” where you don’t have to stop to pay your toll.
Then there are Portuguese companies like Displax which are embracing and innovating technological advances by turning virtually any surface into a touch screen. The company’s polymer film is thinner than paper, therefore allowing pretty much anything to become a touch-screen display. The interactive displays can measure anywhere from 20cm to up to 3 meters diagonally, meaning that one day you just may see entire shop windows turned into interactive displays with multiple users at any time.

ATM in Portugal
Options screen at an ATM in Portugal

3 Responses to “Technology of the Future Made in Portugal”

  1. Ramon Says:

    Portugal’s ATM.

    Sorry man, but really…i didn’t even notice the differences until you brought it up to my attention. All I remember was trying to activate an ATM In Lisbon, like a monkey from 2001 Space Odessey. But once i got the hang of it, I never realized it was supposedly more high-tech than ones i’m used it. I didnt realize it until you brought it up in this blog. After remembering back and watching the Portuguese (No, i wasn’t trying to steal their pin numbers…) I realized…yeah, you are right! But, uhh….i dont think it matters.

    Just like in Japan, you have these high-tech kiosks that can do anything and even do your laundry. but really…buying a concert ticket at a ticket booth is not much of a problem. And is paying your credit card bill in your PC really that much of a hassel?

  2. Mario Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Ramon. No, it doesn’t really matter just like those high-tech kiosks in Japan don’t. But they don’t hurt either. And it’s always interesting to note differences in different parts of the world, and how they can influence us and other countries.
    As for paying credit card bills on your PC, at the “Multibanco” you can pay that plus the water bill, electricity, or any other service, as well as any debts to the state (you can always of course also set up automatic monthly payment with your bank…). The payments through the ATM also allow many elderly people who don’t know how to use the internet to still take care of their payments electronically because the Multibanco system has such an easy, user-friendly layout.
    But I see what you mean: Just how much technology do we really need? Before cell phones, going to a pay phone or waiting to get home to make a phone call wasn’t much of a problem. However, technological advances are important to help local economies (California without Google?) and perhaps even for the evolution of civilization 😉

  3. One man Standing Says:

    I think this is a great article. Portugal has definitely being developing new technology and should continue to do so…New technology gives us a competitive edge vs. other countries. The more advanced we are as a nation – the greater the possibilities. Yes, some of the technology will only have marginally useful applications, but sooner or later we will stumble on something with mass application. Technology is not just software – but also development in medical, physics, etc fields. This is what will drive Portugal out of the current economic crises.