Scandanavian Technologies That The U.S. Needs

Stockholm’s Kulturhuset has escalators that turn on when you prepare to place your foot on the first step.  They move slowly at first, then accelerating rapidly to normal escalator speed. Not every Swedish escalator acts this way, because it would be pointless for those almost constantly in use, such as in train stations or busy shopping malls.

Many European cities have mass transit that puts U.S. mass transit to shame. (For one thing, a “car culture” never fully took hold, and fuel prices have historically been higher).

Copenhagen has a computer-run subway system with no drivers. Board with your pass in the underground station. Sit in any car. Watch the doors automatically close. Your view is unobstructed by a conductor’s compartment because the subway is fully unmanned as the Metro whips underneath the city on two lines to 22 stations 24-hours a day.

Another thing found in Scandanavia are Chip-and-PIN cards.  They are more secure than U.S. credit cards and are more widely accepted outside the U.S.

These “smartcards,” have an embedded computer security chip and a required personal identification number (in addition to the magnetic stripe on the back) and are the standard in Scandinavia.

Chase and a few others in the U.S. do issue credit cards with chips, but they are quick to tell you these are almost always “chip-and-signature” cards that still require you to sign.


Some attendants outside the country swear they have no idea how to take U.S. cards that require signatures, then wait in confusion until you pull out some emergency U.S. twenties which they are happy to accept.

The good news is that U.S. VISA and MasterCard issuers are supposed to start rolling out chip cards by late 2015. (Recent breaches at Target, Home Depot, Michaels and P.F. Chang’s may be providing incentive).

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