My family and I recently went on the bi-annual roadtrip from Houston to Indiana. My wife already has a Garmin that I purchased for her last year, but this was the first roadtrip with it, so there were no waypoints saved on it.
I know, I know. Just copy the waypoints. The IT Staff in my home (namely myself) didn’t get around to it with all the packing and preparing. I packed my Garmin. About 9 hours into the trip, after fumbling through the GPS menus, searching, locating gas stations, tracking the next city, etc. and then having to bounce back to the final destination, I was getting frustrated.
Two monitors are better than one on a computer, so why not two GPS? I grabbed the other GPS from my roadtrip bag and mounted it to the windshield next to my wife’s. After getting over being called a negative metaphore for an intelligent person, it worked out great, the frustration went away. One was constantly fixed on our final destination, while I used the other for plotting waypoints.
I know some people might think “That’s too much of a distraction while driving!”, but it actually allowed me to focus rather than continually checking on the final destination. I was able to leave the list of nearby restaurants up and make sure I didn’t miss them. This also worked well with the nearby cities list so I could tell where we were driving.
There has to be something to this, whether there is still room to improve GPS software, or two is always better than one. It just seemed more natural to me.
For a short time between the heavy use of road atlases and the surge of GPS, the norm was printing directions from Mapquest, Yahoo, and Google Maps. This is, as a matter of fact, the way I found my way to Texas 11 years ago.
There were always caveats, as with all computerized route calculation, that you wouldn’t have up to date information and would end up in a construction zone in a city you had never heard of.
The other problem was deviation. If you made a wrong turn, deviation still meant a manual recovery process. GPS navigation has drastically reduced the use of such products in my life, but I still use them when my GPS is mounted in my car for planning purposes and it does help quite a bit.
GPS is wonderfully helpful. It can overcome route deviation, provide detours when necessary, and even help you find a service station, medical facility, or municipal office in an emergency. More often than not, you are overlooking data that is only as good as the last update, however. Some hotels change hands very quickly on the highway.
But now, a somewhat hybrid model has emerged with the advent of cellular data networks: location based services. When you couple a pinpoint accuracy of your current location with an online database of waypoints that can be constantly revised, you end up with the best of both worlds. Services such as Google Local now provide a way of receiving up-to-the-minute services on your mobile.
This kind of technology can only improve, as it has over the past 11 years. The more information that is at your fingertips while (ahem) parked next to the highway, the better off we all are.
I am curious about additional features I could add to this site. I want to solicit feedback, since I’ve seen a rise in comments here. The two features I am considering are forums and possibly a photo sharing section for people to show off their drivetek. Which would you like to see? Feel free to add comments as to what you think.
I thought this video was appropriate for DriveTek.net, given the explanation of the in-car interface. There is a preorder form on aptera.com. Definitely keeping an eye on this. The price is around 30k from what I have seen online. It’s a 2-seater, but what electric car isn’t?
I’ve been doing some light reading lately about vehicle sensor systems and such, just trying to understand how it all goes together. I see a large amount of parallelism with the natural flow of computer networking.
For example, Bosch developed the concept of a Controller Area Network several years ago. In this system, wiring harnesses that carried several individual connections were replaced by a network and signalling protocol to reduce the number of wires running around the vehicle, much like the transition from star topology (mainframe) to mesh networks (Internet and Cellular).
I wonder where this will all lead. It would be nice to have the ability to replace control components as a user instead of having to take your vehicle to the mechanic, upgrading vehicle systems via your home computer, and having your car message you when a part fails.
I am sitting in my office with 3 computers and a netbook, a gps plugged in to make sure it is up to date, an mp3 player syncing my latest songs and podcasts for the next drive, and six thumbdrives to carry files around. My cellphone is in my pocket, waiting to beep at me for the next text message. I am armed to the teeth with gadgets, getting them ready for when I need them. Sometimes I feel like Batman with all this junk. It is definitely time for some simplification and elegance.
I often daydream about outfitting my car with it’s own computer, complete with the ability to sync audio with a home server over wifi. This would get rid of several devices that I carry with me on any given day. “Why not hook up the netbook or cellphone to the car stereo?”, one might ask. It’s real simple: POWER. I want the audio in my car to sound like I am in a symphony, just like it does when I take the time to burn a cd. I want to have a nice soundcard pushing the audio to an amplifier. I want it fixed in my vehicle and not as an accessory.
I have found several articles about this topic from a few years ago, but I think the state of the economy has hindered projects such as these. For reference, I will leave you with a couple that I found interesting and keep everyone posted if I decide to proceed on the endeavour.
The issue of distracted driving has become a major concern throughout the United States and most of the world due to the proliferation of cheap cell phone devices and all the features that go with them. Mobile devices are by design alerting us to the fact that something is going on outside of our vehicles. This is resulting in a large amount of rear-end collisions that would be otherwise avoided.
States have begun enhancing distracted driving laws which have been on the books since the radio became a popular vehicle accessory. Regulations vary from state to state regarding cell phones and in some cases ban their use on certain segments of road or define situational limits. Looking this information up ahead of interstate travel will help you avoid an out of state traffic violation, something no one enjoys dealing with.
Earlier this month, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a table outlining the rules of all 50 states with very detailed information.
While technology can benefit us and aid in our feeling of connectedness, we need to also be careful and courteous of other motorists. I created a list of tips for driving.
Inform callers that you are on the road to keep conversations brief.
If you are expecting a text at a certain time, notify that person that you will be driving and temporarily unable to text.
Use a handsfree device such as a headset or an in car speaker like the Blue Ant.
Do not text at all on the road, not even at stop lights. Intersections are very difficult for emergency vehicles to navigate through and drivers not paying attention to them are the last thing a fire truck or ambulance driver needs to contend with.
If you have any other suggestions for tips, please let me know in the comments section. Keep it safe and arrive alive!