Monday, October 08, 2007

C'mon Google - Navigate!

I'm desperately hoping for Google to either come out with their own car navigation device or to simply supply the software for an existing gizmo.

The GoogleNavigation I dream of would look like this:

  • Google Earth, integrated of course with GPS. Their existing real-time traffic, directions, satellite view, POI layering would be in full force.
  • The full system should be acessible via the contraption or a web browser, including all my routes, favorites, and user data
  • Traffic would be enhanced to be predictive (based, of course on a time-weighted historical profile)
  • Users would be able to access (via built-in broadband connection or Bluetooth link) additional POI databases from third-parties. Hopefully, the likes of Magellan would step up to leverage their existing data assets. I'd also want to see something from Menupages, Yelp, Michelin, and Fodors, presenting not just names and numbers, but pictures, menus, and rating/reviews.
  • The interface would have to be simplified and adapted to touch/voice/text input. Users should be able to toggle between them at will.
  • Also, the system would collect my feedback and use this in subsequent routes. For example, if there's a road I hate, I should be able, with two or three steps max, to tell the system to avoid it in the future.
  • Taking the feedback app further - if I search for Korean restaurants and eventually choose one for it to navigate me to, when I get back in the car, the screen should be preset with a feedback option. With one touch, I should be able to give the place a rating (1-10). With a second touch, I should be able to input verbal or text comments. Similarly, if I simply park near a store/restaurant/etc and then return to the car, the system should prompt me with a short-list of nearby places I might have visited. With one touch I should be able to select where I went. With a second touch, I would enter a rating ... If this data could be uploaded back to said third-party POI databases, think of the follow-on possibilities in terms of a new levels of accuracy in feedback and advertizing.
  • The system would have a Pricefinder function. I would indicate a specific good (gas, t-bone steak, North Face backpack, etc). It would find the lowest price for a the good within X
    miles of my current position. This might be weighted by availability and breadth of selection. Perhaps store rating as well. A variation on this would be a constantly-recomputing gas price calculator, which would always determine the best option for filling up after considering prices in the area, as well as gas consumption to get to each station. Sometimes it would make sense to stop at a nearby cheapie place, even if I still have half a tank.
  • The POI search function would be enhanced to include an "along my current route" option. The idea is that, if I'm headed from Manhattan to Boston and want a burger, I'd rather drive 15 miles down the road to a Drive-Thru just off the highway than drive 5 miles perpendicular to my main route on local roads to a small village's Main Street cafe. Ditto gas.
  • The routing option would be expanded to include "use scenic/historic routes"
  • The routing component would enable users to VERY quickly create multiple-waypoint trips. In fact, it would facilitate the planning of trips by considering routing, waypoints, traffic, etc to suggest the best route, as well as "must see" waypoints nearby.
    • Scenario: I'm at home in, say, Berkley, CA. I have a 10:00 meeting in the financial district of SF, a customer to see in Burlingame, a store to visit in Nob Hill, a friend to hang with in Santa Cruz, a fiance to pick up in Oakland, and then a golf weekend in Carmel.
    • Behavior: I input these waypoints and constraints. The system analyzes various routing options for timing and efficiency. It considers wait time as well as traffic levels. It also looks at miles travelled, comparing with existing gas, to determine where I'll be when I need gas (and automatically building those stops into the route). It further looks at restaurants along the route (my favorites first, then the highly rated ones). If it finds that I'll be passing by one around mealtime, it would suggest a stop and recompute the route. It might even suggest a re-organization of my itenerary to take advantage of a particularly great place. The system presents routing options ranked in descending order of recommendation.

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