Saturday, October 25, 2008

Srinivasan needs new ideas

This is a post about improving the GPS system - in particular My GPS system. So, what does it have to do with Srinivasan! Many people associate some form of personality with their close devices - be it their cell phone, laptop and now the GPS. The voice telling you which way to go makes it easy for you to identify the device. People take the easy route and assign a name to it based on the name given by the manufacturer. For instance, if the voice is named "Julia" - your device becomes Julia - She tells you where to go.
I decided to name my GPS voice - Srinivasan - with his own initials - GP. It also helps that "HE" ultimately shows you the way. (religious connotations here)

We recently took a road trip (inspite of gas prices) and extensively relied on Srinivasan's expertise to guide us to the right place. He has been with us for about 3+ years and served us well. In all this time, he has not yet acknowledged the fact that I know the roads around my HOME better that he does - in fact he has no memory of any road existing near my HOME.
1. If I tell him my HOME address, GPS should realize that I may have my reasons to go in certain ways and should stop saying "Turn BACK". Instead within 5+ miles, he should respond - you are the boss; let me know once you need me.
Once on the highway, he does indicate what speed I am going at and has some of the speed limit signs in memory. But things change (many states now let people go upto 70 mph).
2. He should learn new things (not AI) but at least give a way for me to educate him on the new stuff.

Update: Check this story out. Moral: Use your brains too!

He puts in the route and tells me how long it will take to get there. as soon as I take a detour towards a rest area or gas station, instead of re-routing:
3. He should ask me - "Brief stop?" Meaning - I hope you know what you are doing - tell me again if you need me. Away from home, the flexibility should be about .5 miles! (See Item 1)
How about showing the nearest coffee stop?
4. GPS looks at a circular view to identify the nearest coffee house (Starbucks/ McDonals etc.) - even if that is 2 miles out of my way. Why not search ALONG the highway with a .5 mile deviation only? I dont mind waiting another 10-15 mins if my detour is only a little bit off the highway. I do understand it will pose some extra effort on the processing - but here is a differentiator.
There are other devices which tellyou the traffic information -
5. How about adding weather information? there is a storm in another 15 minutes - get ready.
The POI database contains where the attractions are located - but trying to make me stop in the middle of Lake Shore Drive is stupid when trying to get me to the Shedd Aquarium. Instead,
6. Remember where the parking locations are for these POIs or at least the drive-in/ drop-off locations. That is what I want to do.

These will be real improvements - not adding a KnightRider skin to a GPS and marketing how you can change the voice or the color backgrounds/ play MP3 songs/ watch videos!
So, as soon as somebody makes these improvements and gives it to me at MY price-point, let me know.

Until then, I'll be getting to know Srinivasan better and learn to accept his flaws. I look at it as his way of telling me - well you are close enough - use your basic senses now.

I have a feeling that when it is only when I meet "HIM", "HE" will tell me

You have ARRIVED at your Destination.

Do you have improvement ideas? Let me know.

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