Navigation 3.0: What’s next for nav

Navigation 3.0: What’s next for nav

Consumers have already shown that they will happily pay for navigation services such as OnStar.

With the advent of free turn-by-turn driving directions on the phone, though, the question for the industry is not whether nav is valuable, but what enhancements go beyond ‘good enough’.

In other words, what will consumers plunk down good money for?
As drivers get used to not getting lost, thanks to their nav services, they'll look for the next level of experience.

Innovation will likely come in four areas: enriched location information, better mapping, time savings, and money savings.

Better location information

“The traditional navigation model focused on the application being used a few times a month, when you're navigating to a new restaurant or finding a location in a new city,” says Scott Sedlik, vice president of marketing for Inrix, a provider of traffic information services.

“Now, we're very much involved with enabling drivers with information about where they drive every day and giving them confidence in the route.”

Connecting the smartphone to navigation lets the system make use of the phone's ability to locate itself more precisely.

In addition, HTML5, the new set of Web standards, supports easier ways to include geolocation in applications, which could enable the development of interesting new Web-based services. (For more on the capacities of HTML5, see ‘Telematics and the next-generation Web’.)

Total Traffic HD Plus, a new service from Clear Channel Radio's Total Traffic Network and Inrix, weaves in data from multiple sources to provide more context about routes and traffic

Data include traffic speeds from GPS-equipped vehicles, traffic sensors, electronic toll tags, Clear Channel operations centers, tip lines, mobile units, and police scanners.

“We have a tremendous amount of content we can bring to the consumer, and we're absolutely starting to do that in our Total Traffic Network HD Plus offering,” says Len Konecny, vice president, business development for Total Traffic Network.

“News, weather, other types of information services, fuel prices—the types of information people want to have in quick snippets. We can provide that. The real question is, how much information is too much information? Distraction is a huge issue.”

Better mapping

When it comes to mapping, 3D could be the next big thing.

In the latest TeleNav offering within MyFord and MyLincoln, drivers have the choice of going into 3D mode, which allows them to view a simulated 3D environment in which landmarks look more like the real thing.

The AT&T Navigator iPhone app provides a true 3D environment, in which users can do a virtual flyover of the route they'll be traveling.

While TeleNav, a provider of mobile, location-based services, hasn't studied whether this feature improves a driver's ability to find her way, you can't discount the fun factor.

“Look at the iPhone example,” says James Grace, a business development manager for TeleNav.

“The reason people like using Google maps on the iPhone has to do with the visual quality of the maps, and pinch-to-zoom is a very smooth experience. The idea of making the experience more visually compelling is important.”

Time and money

Getting where you're going is great. But time is money, so saving time and money by getting there more efficiently is likely a benefit that busy commuters will pay for.

Total Traffic HD Plus gives drivers real-time traffic flow information on highways and major metropolitan routes, as well as predictive traffic flow.

With predictive traffic flow, forecasts and travel times are based on current conditions and analysis of how those conditions are expected to change.

“The navigation system can both automatically reroute you or relay messages related to a specific incident, giving you insight into whether you should stay on the road,” Inrix’s Sedlik explains.

When it comes to saving money, Garmin's ecoRoute apps for the nüvi personal navigation device help drivers save on fuel costs in two ways.

First, when requesting a route, drivers can opt for fastest time, shortest distance, or less fuel consumption.

If less fuel is selected, nüvi then determines the more fuel-efficient route, based on road speed data and vehicle acceleration data.

It also provides fuel and mileage reports that let users monitor how much dinosaur they're burning on each trip or over time. (For more about Garmin ecoRoute, see ‘Garmin: A navigation device can deliver so much more than just navigation’.)

Aside from all the gee-whiz stuff, Clear Channel's Konecny points out that the addressable market for basic navigation is still huge, with 80 percent of consumers never having tried it.

“Some of these technologies that may be perceived as antiquated are still very new to a lot of people,” he notes.

Susan Kuchinskas is a regular contributor to TU.


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