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Ultimate Taxi Featured In DigitalFoto Magazine July 2000

   Ultimate Taxi Featured In DigitalFoto Magazine July 2000   

      Ultimate Taxi Featured In DigitalFoto Magazine July 2000   

  You've just finished dinner and you're not ready to go home yet. The night beckons, and as you step off the curb and into the waiting taxi, you're suddenly aware that this will be no ordinary ride. The Ultimate Taxi- a digital photo booth, video studio, Web station, nightclub, planetarium, magic show, recording studio, toy store, laser light show, and tour of Aspen, Colorado-is Jon Barnes's completely original, 30-minute multimedia show on wheels where riders are not only entertained, they're the entertainment. Passengers get their photo taken by Kodak DC260 ($899, digital camera as soon as they ease into the backseat. The photos are then instantly uploaded using a Sony PCG-F270 VAIO ( notebook computer via a high-speed wireless LAN to the Ultimate Taxi Web site (, along with video portions of the ride broadcast via a Hitachi M2 (1299, digital MPEG multimedia camcorder that records both video and audio and takes digital stills. Passengers, as well as the rest of the world, can watch live footage of themselves on the Web site's TaxiCam housed inside the cab. They can also browse through Barnes's online album of celebrity run-ins which include Kevin Costner, Jimmy Buffett, Clint Eastwood, Ring Starr, Jerry Seinfeld, Dan Morino, Bob Dole, and Ivana, to name a few.

    All passengers leave the taxi with a photo of themselves printed from a Polaroid ColorShot ($249, photo printer that sits precariously close to the gas pedal on the taxi floor. "I chose this printer because it's fast and is small enough to fit in the taxi," says Barnes. "I just need to make sure I don't step on it when I step on the gas!"     Barnes keeps the cab loaded with a slew of high-tech gadgets including an old point and shoot Kodak DC210 digital camera and a Nikon Coolpix 950 ($899.95, that he use for wide-angle shots and for creating iPIX panoramas. He also keeps a Panasonic EZ-1DV camera up front to document his travels- footage that he claims he'll one day incorporate into his own television show broadcast live from the taxi. "I want to keep up with what's going on with multimedia maven was born. So, why is he doing all of this? "I didn't want to be just driving a cab- I wanted to leave an impression on my passengers. I want everyone that steps out of the taxi to have a smile on their face." He then pauses and adds, "It's all about immortality. People will remember the taxi, and all of my passengers will achieve immortality on the Web site." Of course, the pay is also really good- at $125 a ride, he pulls in around $12,000 a month during the peak season!

    And what does he have planned for the future? We could hear the gears in Barnes's head spinning rapidly: "I want to make TV shows, books, internet TV, maybe even create a virtual taxi ride or virtual Aspen. I want to take this as far as I can go. Kodak and Yahmaha have already shown great support for what I've done. Now I'm hoping that some of the other companies will. I'll gladly let people know what equipment I use- it's (free) advertising for (the companies) and I don't mind displaying a logo for them on the taxi." He pauses briefly and then laughs, "Well, I'm not going to turn the taxi into an Indy race car or anything."

The Stats
The Ultimate Taxi
A 1978 Yellow Checker cab, clocking in at 429,129 miles at press time.

The Media Show
A Kodak DC 260 digital camera, Kodak DC 210 digital camera, Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera, Panasonic EZ-1 DV Cam, Sony PCG-F270 VAIO notebook computer, Polaroid ColorShot photo printer, Hitachi M2 MPEG Cam (Web camera). Aironet 2MB/ second high-speed wireless LAN, Nokia 2160 cellular phone, CuteFTP (FTP client).

Powered by: Three deep-cycle batteries pumping in excess of 1800 amps housed in the trunk. Each is rigged with power isolation circuitry with separate feeds to audio, laser, and lighting equipment.

The Visual Showcase
Nine red lasers, one green laser projector, Wildfire black light effects, two mini-strobes, color changing fiber optic lighting, a mirror ball, four neon light sticks, a dry ice fog machine, 15 mini stage lights, two ColorCorp C-30 Super Brite LED color-changing stage lights, and a galaxy of glow in the dark planetary stickers.

The Aural Showcase
A 900-watt Alpine stereo sound system, two audio mixers (including a Tascam 4-track), one Yamaha PSR-620 MIDI keyboard, Yahmaha MIDI digital drum pad set, a San U-10 phrase sampler (real-time DJ and scratch effects processor), and an SFX Mini-Haze processor.

DigitalFoto Magazine July 2000 Cover

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