Innovation That Matters

Using pictures to give directions

Travel & Tourism

When it comes to giving someone directions to a particular place, traditional maps can be imperfect tools, abstract and two-dimensional as they are. A new application built for Google’s Android cellphone platform, however, incorporates pictures and personalization to help people answer the question, “Can you show me how to get there?” BreadCrumbz is a mobile navigation application that lets users create directional routes on the fly. The software uses the phone’s camera and GPS to take geo-tagged pictures of the user’s route while Android’s location APIs and Compass sensor track their progress as they navigate. Android’s Maps API is then used to overlay route information such as arrows or notes on top of a map. The result is a personalized, picture-based map that users can email to friends or upload to the web to show others how to navigate a specific building or landscape. Voice capabilities are reportedly in the works. A demo on YouTube shows how it’s currently done. BreadCrumbz was one of just 20 winners in the Open Handset Alliance’s Android Developer Challenge, taking home a USD 100,000 award. It’s available as a free download for the T-Mobile G1 through the Android Market. Beyond just helping consumers give each other directions, BreadCrumbz also promises to let them share walking tours of a favourite city, for example, or document personal stories with location-based pictures and information. In the commercial realm, businesses could benefit greatly from picture-based maps that lead consumers to their door–or even illustrate multiple points along their supply chain. The possibilities are many–one to start experimenting with! (Related: Route planner with a wiki twistAdvanced route planning for pedestrians.) Spotted by: Radha Rajan



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