There was a time when using a map meant going to the drawer, pulling out a piece of paper, and manually locating street names and highways to find the quickest route, by yourself. Fast-forward to today and you have devices that can tell you how to walk, bike, take public transportation, or drive to just about anywhere in the world, and roughly how long it will take you to get there. We all know how to punch an address into our phone and hit start, but fittingly, this is just the beginning of what is possible with navigation technology. Welcome to the Android-age of mapping and directions.
It’s easy to think of global positioning systems (GPS) as the one and only device for the directionally illiterate, but there are plenty of tools that can be useful to have. Many people have replaced the traditional window-mounted GPS with their smart phone’s mapping application. We’ve all seen the maniacs with the steering wheel in one hand and their phone in the other looking for street signs. If you’re looking for a safer option, there are great mounts and also great GPS units that work directly with your Android device. This technology is the base layer for recent fast paced innovation.
Future generations will not believe navigation didn’t always come standard in vehicles (and they also will look at maps like most of us look at typewriters). And what about the driver-less cars of the future? Well, they exist! Google is testing this technology and exploring safety and legality in states like California and Washington. One can imagine the endless possibilities of this technology.
Picture waking up to an alarm clock that monitors the traffic report in your city. Backed up today? We better get up 20 minutes early. Smooth sailing? Sleep for another 15. As you get ready, your wrist watch vibrates once letting you know the traffic is getting worse and to make it on time, you’d better leave soon. The car’s remote start is triggered by an algorithm taking into consideration the temperature, time, traffic, and when the coffee was started. You leave your connected house and it locks automatically when your keys are inside the car and your car prepares you for the day reading stock quotes, weather, email, and playing voicemail.
In The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, they paint a vivid picture of a young professional preparing to go to work using similar technology. Mapping so advanced that based on the sensors in the seat of the vehicle; the Android embedded navigation device built into the car’s dashboard will recognize who is driving, what time it is, and where they are likely going based on previous routines or even based on recent internet searches. The navigation device might recommend a restaurant if it’s Friday evening and you’ve been searching on Yelp for Thai food. It’s exciting to see where developers will go creatively with the open source platform of Android. Until then, we will continue to hit snooze ourselves, scrape frost from our windshield as we’re driving, and run just a bit late.