Once in awhile, a technological innovation comes along that radically changes life as we know it.Â When I got my first inter-system email account back in 1972, I realized that email was going to be that kind of cultural shift.Â Recently, I discovered Wazeâ„¢, and I’m pretty sure that it, or something very similar is going to be the next big thing.
Waze is a mashup of social networking and the GPS positi0n tracking chip that is embedded into every cell phone sold.Â While this chip was included in order to allow the government a way of tracking the location of 911 calls, it’s also being used to turn smart phones into dashboard GPS units.
Most cell phone companies charge by the month or year for the “service” of giving their customers access to the GPS chip that they already paid for.Â Actually, it’s not that unfair.Â Keeping accurate information available for a GPS is, using the traditional business model, relatively costly.
Waze does it differently.Â Instead of hiring folks to go out and locate changes to roads, Waze depends on it’s users to keep the data fresh.Â As you use Waze, it get’s smarter about the area you are traveling in.Â It keeps track of how fast vehicles go on each road and modifies it’s direction finding paradigm as it collects more data. Users are notified about changes in traffic condition and given an opportunity to avoid trouble spots.
The more that Waze is used in an area, the better it gets.
One of the more interesting parts of Waze is a reporting system.Â When a user sees a speed trap, road construction or other road concerns, they can notify the service (and other nearby users) by pushing a button on the interface.Â It’s possible to add a note too, but Waze disables text input while the vehicle is moving.
To use Waze efficiently, you really need a car mount for your iPhone.Â My favorite so far is the Window Seat from Griffin Technology.Â This is a suction cup mount system and includes a variety of mounts and parts to fit many different vehicles.Â The mount captures the iPhone (comes with adapters for the 3G, 3Gs, original iPhone and iPod Touch) but leaves access to the charging port and audio jack.Â I’m a fan.
Waze is going to change the way we think about automotive GPS units, and make driving a more cooperative experience.Â To download your own free copy of Waze for your iPhone or Google Android power phone, click here.Â Versions for Windows Mobile, Symbian smart phones and other devices are in the works.