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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yesterday, I took a look at the Walmart maps being offered to shoppers for Black Friday by the Massachusetts store cited in our APB post today. Looking like every other Walmart floor plan that the retailer stamps into the landscape around the country, I got to thinking about how I’d want my "shopping map" to look like. If I were to be lured to the 4:00 a.m. low, low prices, obsequious to the will of the mega-retailers on that fateful day after Thanksgiving, this is how I would want to start my hunt for the ultimate door-busting bargains.

First, I’d want my car navigation system (let’s go with a Garmin…I’m partial to their PNDs) equipped with the locations of every retailer and their hours of operation on BF (yes, Black Friday).

Next, I’d map out the route to each store allowing just enough time to scarf-up the best sale items at each.

However, this is predicated by having a map of each floor plan for each retailer loaded onto my Blackberry (sorry, I’m a business guy…don’t do iPhone schtick). Perhaps we could get the good folks at uLocate to work on this for the Where application.

Next, the retailers would have to allow the floor plans to be tagged with the location of the best sale items. This might be similar to what the rather crude Walmart map provides, but please, we are a bit more sophisticated in our geospatial awareness these days, so let’s have better precision, right? I’m thinking that there should be some RFID device for each item and a shopping cart that synch’s via Bluetooth to my Blackberry to navigate around the store. Whenever the cart passes along the isle with the most sought-after gadgets, my Blackberry provides the alert and I’m directed appropriately.

Having snagged the item from the shelf, I’m then provided with a traffic map of the store floor, whisking my buggy to route around the bulging crowds to the nearest cash register with the fewest in line. This is micro-geography at its finest.

My items are scanned as I zoom past the counter, swipe my credit card, and I’m out the door…on to the next BF adventure.

I’m headed to the parking lot where I’m met with a swarm of hungry, sleep-deprived shoppers, goodness knows where I parked my car. But in the perfect geospatial world, I am directly by voice commands by my PND to the location of my space and my car is automatically unlocked as I approach with a cart-load of gifts, recognizing of course that my bio sensor-equipped vehicle knows my proximal location.

Safely inside, I rev the engine and I’m off to the next store, real-time traffic and weather guiding my every move. And because I’ve integrated my PND with geo-located Twitter feeds, I’m getting updates on new bargains in the vicinity. I’m re-routed as necessary…my Christmas shopping list consulted and advised.

In a perfect world…Have a great Thanksgiving.

by Joe Francica on 11/25 at 09:03 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I received a social media e-mail from waze touting the new version of its navigation/traffic (data collection) app. The Android version is out; the iPhone version, last I check on the waze site is still getting approved. (That does make it tough to plan the timing for a holiday campaign!!!)
The updated game incentivizes users to travel in areas that need map updates: “The new version adds more capabilities to waze’s already popular ‘munching’ game that encourages users to validate road driving directions as they drive around. Users will now munch ‘road goodies’ - cherries, hammers and small gift packages worth bonus points - that will be placed in areas where the waze system has identified map problems.”

Another incentive: cold hard Amazon gift card: “In parallel to the launch of the new version, waze will be conducting a ‘Holiday High Points Challenge’ between November 25-30. The top three users who rack up the most points during this timeframe from munching ‘road goodies’ will receive Amazon gift card prizes in the amounts of $500, $300 and $200, respectively, to help out with their holiday shopping.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/25 at 06:11 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

How do we share the new3D maps of indoor and outdoor spaces with the blind? One way is to use a stylus that mimics a blind persons cane. It’s developed by MIT’s Touch Lab.

The BlindAid stylus functions much like a blind person’s cane, allowing the user to feel virtual floors, walls, doors and other objects. The stylus is connected to a computer programmed with a three-dimensional map of the room. Whenever a virtual obstacle is encountered, the computer directs the stylus to produce a force against the user’s hand, mimicking the reaction force from a real obstacle.

- MIT News Office via reader Larry

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/25 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

That’s been suggested by commenters and I did note the coyness of AND CEO Maarten Oldenholf when I interviewed him in October about a well-known user of his company’s data that he could not name. Forbes points to CloudMade founder Nick Black as confirming the Google AND partnership. Forbes states that “is said to be working with Automotive Navigation Data, a Netherlands-based digital map provider, to get detailed mapping data of Europe.”

But Forbes attaches another rumor: “But chatter that Google is soliciting European mapping data has some nav companies considering shutting their doors.” It cites a few small mobile developers, one of whom may change plans as Google takes Google Maps Navigation to Europe.

- Forbes

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/25 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

WeLoveDC compares the WMATA Metro maps which show straight lines and right angles and neatly spaced stops and the actual locations and distances between the stations. It’s “myth busting” or for map folks: just fun.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/25 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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