GPS as the cure to roadside blight

Waffle House sign

Creative Commons image by Eye Captain via flickr.

It’s a staple of American road trips: signs all along the interstate inviting you to grab a bite, fill up or spend the night. You’re likely to see hundreds of these signs on any given trip. (More if you’re passing through Breezewood, Pa.)

These come ons are likely to become less effective as the penetration of navigation devices increases. I took a road trip recently with my friend Tricia. I was getting hungry, but couldn’t see anything on the signs that I wanted to stop for. She had a nostalgic craving for Friendly’s. I entered that into my Magellan GPS and found one just off the interstate a few miles ahead.

My GPS also has an “Exit POI” mode that shows businesses close to the interstate. If you don’t know what you want, you can browse an exit before you get off the freeway.

On the way back, another friend wanted to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. It wasn’t in the POI database on the Magellan, so I called Google 411. I got the address by text message and entered it into the Magellan.

As navigation devices become connected, you’ll be able to do more than find a business. You’ll be able to see the gas prices ahead and find which hotels have availability. No more getting off the interstate and driving in an unfamiliar area looking for vacancy signs. And, of course, eventually Google AdRoads.

One disadvantage of navigation devices is that they search and sort based on radius. If you find a business that’s 1.3 miles away, it could be 1.3 miles back the direction you just came. I haven’t yet seen a “search along my route” option that would restrict results to upcoming businesses in your path of travel.

More on: gps, maps, satellite navigation


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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