Sunday, July 20, 2008

Your portable GPS can be used to create a historical traffic conditions database.

If you are not familiar with a Dash Express GPS, please read about it here. It is truly an innovative product. I am not going however to advertise this product, however awesome it might be, in my post but rather talk about something it made me think of.

Dash Express has an amazing capacity of using a real or near real time traffic data from each individual device which is being redistributed to all other dash devices using a wireless network. When there is no Wi-Fi or wireless network that the device can use it falls back to the preloaded historical traffic info (which, Dash Express People say, is in 15 minutes chunks). So, even the lack of the real time traffic data does not prevent this device from creating a somewhat useful route, better than your run of the mill GPS portable. In a sense, it is an indirect way of knowing "shortcuts", which streets and which roads are faster, which have fewer lights etc, etc.

As far as I know non of the big name players on the personal GPS market use the historical traffic info in their products. Yes, I am aware of the XM Nav Traffic on the Garmin and Pioneer units, as well as OTA traffic broadcast on Garmin, Sony, TomTom etc, etc. Which is nice, but it does not cover surface street, and only works in the major metro areas.
I am not sure that any of those companies use an extra info layer of the historical traffic data in their devices.

How would, let's say, a Garmin device acquire such a data? I guess they could license it from someone, but I am not aware of any companies that posses such a database. I am sure that the Dash Express people do, but I can bet that they are not interested in selling it any time soon.

It is simple, they should just use their own devices to collect such data. I know, I know, non of the Garmin units have a wireless modem built in yet. But, most of the GPS units log your track - a location you were in, the speed you were travelling with, the exact time and date and such. If this is not a historical data info, then I do not know what is. Furthermore, most of the portable GPS devices can be synced with a desktop or a laptop via USB. I connect my own GPS to my PC about once a week for a few different purposes. I will agree that a track log from any single device is worthless in this aspect to anyone than, maybe, your wife or yourself, but the data from many devices compiled over time will become statistically complete. It may be then used - it may be incorporated in the routing algorithms and become an extra data layer on the device maps.
I think it is a good concept. Guess I should patent it. What do you think?

No comments: