At the risk of sounding like an "all things google" blog... This is marvelous. Apparently Google is working with Volkswagen's Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto to make what looks like a Google Earth / Google Maps / Yahoo Traffic / Weather Channel / in-car navigation mashup.
The three-dimensional, photorealistic display of the surrounding area would make intuitive orientation easier for the driver and passengers. Imagine a Google Earth style flyover of your route from within the car. Net-linked cars could also do things like this:
- Self-report average velocity, giving *very* accurate reads on real-time traffic. No need to rely on the limited number of traffic sensors currently in use. Imagine if I knew the median speed of the last 20 cars going from my neighborhood to my work...
- Overlay the map with speed limits (so I'd know the limit for my area and could slow for the upcoming school zone)
- Overlay the map with known contruction zones, accidents, speed traps, red-light cameras
- Allow a google-style search of points of interest (POIs). My current nav system forces me to browse a hierarchy (Restaurants, All Types, By Keyword, By Distance to Location) before I enter the name. That's so Yahoo 1998. With a google search, I could just type "Jackie's" and it would use page rank with my location and history to know I probably meant the nearby restaurant.
- Color code my POIs by whether they're open or not. Show their phone number and automatically dial it from a bluetooth phone.
Throw in an API to let me create my own map overlays, and I'm one happy camper.
I suppose there's no real need for this to be confined to a vehicle; the same tech could find its way onto cell phones or Origami devices. But I am looking forward to the increased convenience. If we're gonna live like we do, packed into cities, why not at least optimize the experience?