Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Road Trip Tech Wishes

We recently went on a family road trip. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to get in a car and just go where the day takes you. We had somewhere to be, but we give ourselves enough time that we could take it easy and explore along the way.

Of course we had our iPhone with us. Google Maps and Yelp were awesome, helping us figure out where we are, where we're going, how long it'll take to get there, and what to eat when we arrived. They weren't much help, though, in helping us discover interesting side trips along the way.

What I want is a service that I can give a destination and when I need to be there, and it'll fill the duration with cool places to visit. It'll pay attention as you go, updating based on your actual trajectory. You can veto things or specify particular kinds of things you're interested in. Of course it'll learn what you like, and you can share favorites with your social network, and you'll be guided to places your friends liked.

It would also be nice just to be able to look at a map and get a sense for where the interesting places are. I'm not necessarily into your typical tourist attractions, like museums and parks. I find I love exploring new towns, especially those with charming historic districts. I'd like a map overlay that showed me just those towns. For that matter, how about a general “interestingness” heat map overlay?

Another thing we'd love, as we're cruising along, would be something that would tell us more about the place we're driving through; the history, geology, flora, fauna, etc. Kind of like an interactive museum guide, but for the whole world. Some of these places don't have good cell reception, so it would be great if you could tell it ahead of time where you're going and it could pre-cache content for that area.

Anyway, just some random thoughts from the road. I guess we'll have to try it again and do some serious R&D!