I have had a crusade going with Map My Run and other map makers for several years, trying to encourage someone to develop new tools to add a little gamification to routing, in my case in the name of exercise.
What I’m wanting seems really simple to me. I want to do lots of walking on roads I haven’t walked on before and as part of that exercise, I want to be able to plan and track the routes I can take on a mapping tool that links with my smartphone. More on this along with some other ideas like the man who used a GPS tracker to spell out a marriage proposal here.
Sounds simple to me, but it seems as though no one else wants it because no one is doing it. At the latest CES there was an interesting app for car routing. Rather than giving you turn by turn directions, it shows uncongested options in green and congested options in red.
Daniele Quercia recently gave a TED presentation (below) on Happy Maps, a concept where rather than choosing the shortest route, you can choose a route based on your mood. A happy route, a quiet route or maybe a route that goes past nice nice buildings or green spaces. It’s not a long video and I think given that you have visited my blog, that you would enjoy it.
He started with the observation that every day he took the same route, which was very busy, then one day he turned off that route and found a nice road that had no traffic on it. At that point I was thinking, “we are on the same page”.
So here’s his presentation. If you check out my other link and you agree with me that it would be a cool feature for Map My Run, or one of their competitors, how about dropping them an email and letting them know I’m not the only one who would like that feature, or leave a comment of support here that I share with them. Maybe someone will get a cool idea and we can all have some fun, getting some exercise and see parts of our cities and the world that we wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy.
First of all I must apologise for the Blogfade. Over the last few weeks I’ve bought a new house and sold my own one which has caused a lot of stress and taken a lot of my time. Assuming that my sale goes through tomorrow, I wil be moving this weekend and life will get back to normal.
I’ve been busy on a lot of projects lately, one of which has been working on developing channels for GeoVector’s World Surfer product.
Worldsurfer is a location based application that runs on iPhone 3GS and Android mobiles which incorporate both GPS and Compass, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities.I have to say that even though the G1 I’m using currently is 1st generation Android, the combination of GPS and Compass is remarkably accurate. I suspect it is also using cell tower triangulation. It has my street address exactly correct even though I am inside my lounge, whereas my old phone using just Vodafone cell towers had my kitchen in one suburb and my lounge in another and I assure you my house is not that big.
The concept for this solution is that it provides for Location Based ‘Channels’ which allow you to search for Points of Interest based on your present location. A Channel is typically a category of POI (Points of Interest).
On the G1 that I am using at the moment I have the New Zealand channels that are currently available here. The first is GeoSmart, for whom I am the Sales & Marketing Manager.
GeoSmart is the company providing API’s, web services and web maps behind many leading web sites in NZ and services in many other countries. The best known site is AA Maps, which also now features real time traffic covering all of New Zealand. The GeoSmart Channel on Worldsurfer for NZ includes a nationwide set of categories and subcategories currently covering Accomodation, Banks and ATM’s, Entertainment, Parks and Gardens, Pubs Taverns and Bars, Restaurants, Takeaway Food and Public Toilets.
You can set it to only look in a band in the direction you are pointing your phone or in a 360 degree radius from your current location and it will locate POI up to 5 miles / 8km away. So in effect you can look for a Japanese Restaurant in the direction you are currently travelling. When you select one, the compass will point you in the direction of that venue and show a running distance calculation as you travel towards it.
You then have the option to call them for a reservation with one touch of the screen, get turn by turn directions and a map to guide you, mark the location for future reference, check Flickr, YouTube or Google for more information about the location.
World Surfer is as it sounds an international product and will automatically open the options available for the country you are in. Some are subscription channels whilst others are available free of charge.
Other channels available in New Zealand currently are Google, Zenbu, Wikipedia (which looks for information by location, based on pointing your mobile), Starbucks, and Vodafone Stores. I am currently working on developing many more channels for NZ. There are other exciting projects on the way, but if I tell you what they are, I’d be in big trouble, so watch this space.
As a footnote, I’ve said before that I would like to create an application called Where’s My Car, because everyone has a story of not being able to remember where they parked their car. I often see people in shopping mall car parks, at rugby matches and other spots wandering up and down trying to figure out where their cars are. When I got this Android phone (on loan) I found an application called CarDar Light.
This application lets you ‘mark’ the location of your car as you park it and will then guide you, even inside a car park, to your car. You can enter the level number or colour of the floor as an assist, but after that you will never lose your car again.
For a demonstration of WorldSurfer check out the YouTube video below:
Another step of the future which pretty much dates back to the original Star Trek TV programmes has become not only reality, but is becoming mainstream. Now to get the company to buy me that iPhone 3GS!
I’ve always wondered about the answer to this question and we had a chat about this in the office this afternoon, so I thought I’d find out once and for all.
If you dig a hole straight down from where you are right now, where would you come out. I thought possibly France and I wasn’t too far out. I found a Google Tool which will work it out. From where I am sitting right now, if I was to dig straight down, not worrying about the logistics, I would actually end up i the South of Spain not far from the town of Ronda, which is about 1 1/2 hours drive from the coastal town of Malaga.
I won’t try doing it from my hometown in Bakkum aan Zee because I would end up somewhere in the Southern Ocean, and the water would rush through and who knows what the consequences could be?
This is from my blog at GeoSmart Maps Ltd in Auckland where I am gainfully employed in Business Development.
We’re helping you reduce your carbon footprint The movement towards reducing carbon emissions is growing daily and New Zealand’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in practical terms means that it is going to be high on the roadmap for New Zealand businesses and government. The data we are collecting and providing in our products and services is helping people in simple and practical ways to reduce their vehicle kilometers driven on NZ roads.
With the high cost of petrol and the expectation that it will continue to increase, there are already incentives to reduce the distances we drive in our cars. With more and more evidence of global warming and our commitment to doing what we can to reduce carbon emmissions, especially from our motor vehicles, GeoSmart is doing its part to help.
Many of our products and solutions involve data which can help people travel from A to B more efficiently. For example:
Car Navigation is an obvious one. I frequently hear stories of people without navigation in their cars getting lost and driving much further than they should be. Add this to the well warn stories of ‘men don’t ask directions’ and ‘women can’t read maps’ which is proven to be true over and over again and the fact that quality portable navigation devices are now available for under NZ$500 at retail, their is no excuse for this anymore. Add up how many extra km you drive due to error or being lost and especially for business people, these devices will pay for themselves in no time flat. What about all the thousands of Mums and Dads taking their kids to away games on the weekends?
Fleet Management. Vehicle tracking solutions combined with our Route Optimisation web services can have a rapid impact on reduced travel with the bonus of increased productivity, reduced maintenance costs, fuel costs, and as a good corporate citizen, reduced fuel emissions.
Directions for web mapping. One of the API’s that GeoSmart offers with SmartFIND Web Mapping is the ability to generate printable driving directions from A to B based on the fastest route. There are now hundreds of web sites in NZ using this service. The most well known is of course http://www.wises.co.nz. Going a step further, sites like http://www.aamaps.co.nz allow you to create and print an entire itinerary with turn by turn instructions to take with you in the car. These are no also used i n a number of call centres around the country to provide directions to people on the road.
Vodafone Live does the same on your mobile phone so you never have an excuse that you didn’t have access to the Internet. Need your nearest ATM or petrol station, just tell your phone where you are and you will receive turn by turn directions and a route map on your phone.
For those who don’t have a problem reading maps, GeoSmart generates map books for Wises as well as the NZ Automobile Association which gives away a HUGE number of maps to members. Of course you do have to use them, but again, why not save your money as well as care for your environment.
Doesn’t apply to you? That’s wonderful, but be honest, I’m sure you will recall a time recently where you drove further than you could have.
There have been discussions in the media recently that a Carbon Tax might be applied as a petrol surcharge. Do you need any more incentive for an investment in time by getting directions from one of our client services or buying yourself a car navigation device? Then how about doing it to do your bit to protect our planet? Many people think “I’m just one person, what can I do?” If we all do the same, it will make a difference. It’s nice to be part of a company that is helping to make that difference.