Innovation That Matters

Sightseeing guided by GPS

Travel & Tourism

So, you’re in San Francisco, and you want to do a little sightseeing. But the thought of wrestling with maps, getting herded about with dozens of tourists, or asking random passers-by for directions just isn’t appealing. Luckily for tourists to the City by the Bay, there’s GoCar Rentals, home of the “first ever storytelling car.” The GoCar looks like a tiny yellow two-seater car, but is actually a three wheeled moped. Two people can hop in, and are required to wear helmets. An on-board computer and GPS (global positioning system) serve as a back seat driver, directing the humans in front to places that few visitors get to see, along with the famous sites. The system provides running commentary in a choice of five languages, allowing tourists to motor along at their own pace, exploring places a tour bus can’t go, and stopping for lunch, photos, or shopping whenever they like. The GPS tour guide will make suggestions for good stops and direct the driver if he or she gets lost. As the company says, the GoCar is “a tour guide, a talking car, a trusty co-pilot and a local on wheels.” A GoCar rents for USD 44 for the first hour, USD 34 for the second and USD 24 for each additional hour, with no further charges over five hours. GoCar drivers must be 21 or older with a valid driver’s license. This fun concept offers entrepreneurs a great opportunity in any tourist destination. Ready to get started? You can license a GoCar Rentals franchise for USD 50K-USD 100K; the company’s first franchise has already opened in San Diego. A second franchise is scheduled to open in Miami in April and several other locations will open later this year. GoCars also sells new and used GoCars—buy one and launch your own brand of GPS tours. New vehicles run about USD 6,000. Other business opportunities? Creating tours for regular rental cars, aimed at tourists who would rather blend in with the locals or want to go on longer expeditions. Or walking tours, as provided by Digi-Guide in Paris. If you’d like to focus on the tours and not the technology, Node offers content creators a complete platform to work with: server, software and rugged handheld GPS units. And what about soundtracks/audio-tours for people to download to their own navigation device or GPS-enabled PDA? Last but not least, there’s also plenty of room for location based media catering to niche audiences, and not just tourists. In Australia, HearHere offers GPS soundtracks for test driving cars. The company’s Drivetracks guide the driver around a pre-determined route of any length and location, using challenging driving sections along the way to show off a car’s features right when the driver is experiencing them. (“Let’s move across to M mode and give it some acceleration up these hills.”) HearHere is targeting automobile manufacturers, enabling them to communicate their key selling messages to journalists at a car’s launch, consumers out for a test drive, or dealership teams on sales training. Spotted by: Leonardo



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