Inrix announced a major iPhone App innovation today at CES, allowing users to see when the optimum time is to leave in order to arrive at their destination as expected and on time. The App brings together their knowhow and ability to predict traffic based on historical information, expected events today (i.e. sports game or concert, or bad weather), and your route options to predict in 15 minute increments what your drive time will be. By saving popular routes, you will have the opportunity to see expected road conditions with just a few taps. Got a favorite route? Drive it, record it and keep it in the Inrix Traffic Pro program for future use.
The application will be available for $9.99 as a single year subscription and $25 for a lifetime subscription to the services. If I am not mistaken, this is the first direct to consumer product for Inrix where there is a revenue stream for them.
Still plenty of time to prepare for what some are saying will be the worst car traffic jams in a long with this Thanksgiving, starting Wednesday and stretching into Thursday. The down economy is keeping pursestrings tight, and more people are traveling by car, creating a firestorm of potential accidents, traffic jams and lost time. There are plenty of GPS solutions to the problem, and some non-GPS solutions to the problem, here are a few ideas:
Travel in "Off Peak Times" - Traffic leader Inrix predicts that traveling either Wednesday morning or Thursday morning will be a good strategy to beat the traffic - no GPS needed for this one.
Use Websites to research -
While Google won't tell you how long the traffic jam will hurt you, it will help predict in the future what traffic will be like. Use Google Maps to search for your area, then click on Traffic and see the live conditions. Unfortunately it looks like Google Maps isn't yet incorporating the holiday week traffic into its prediction engine; net Thursday and Friday look like a regular rush hour drive; whoops!
Traffic.com - plug in your start and destination and you will get a custom set of directions, including the "Fastest Now" and the "Direct Drive" which may include some traffic delays that they will spell out for you. You can also access their free mobile site; http://mobi.traffic.com from the road.
Mobile Phone Solutions - You don't need an iPhone to get a mobile phone solution that has traffic; you do need a more advanced phone though:
Telenav Navigator - available for many Black Berry units, and others, the inexpensive navigation service offers you live traffic updates, and will help re-route you. For $9.99 a month, this is inexpensive. You like it keep it, you don't, cancel. More at Telenav on supported devices
Verizon's VZ Navigator - offers traffic also, same $9.99 a month. At Verizon
iPhone Solutions - Navigation Apps
Navigon App for North America - for an extra $15 you can get live traffic added to the App. So, the App is $20 off, and the traffic is $10 off right now through 11/30, which will bring you under $100 for that iPhone App you've been wanting anyway..... Their traffic is based on the Inrix data feed.
Inrix Traffic! - Offers a point of view of what's happening now and a glimpse into the future with a traffic prediction. - Free
Traffic.com - Offers a view into traffic, with some functionality coming over from their website. - Free
I happen to like Inrix's App better, but take them both; they're free and don't take up that much space
A-ha - An interesting look at the traffic interface - no maps, just shout outs about traffic issues in your area. Worth bringing, but offers a disadvantage if you are not totally familiar with the area as you may have trouble understanding where a traffic jam is just from the audible alert. - Free
INRIX and ALK Technologies, announced that INRIX will power real-time traffic data in ALK Technologies popular CoPilot® Live™ v8 GPS navigation app for Apple iPhone, Google Android and Windows phones in North America. CoPilot is one of the Top Grossing Apps at the iTunes App store in the US at the pretty amazing price of $35.
This release also represents a milestone in that it will be powered by the in application purchase ability - allowing you to buy the App, then add-on the traffic option from within the application itself. The price for traffic service is $19.99 a year at the Co-Pilot site, and I would imagine that would also apply for in-app purchases. That's pretty cheap for some best in class traffic coverage and capabilities.
More on the news release below after the jump.
More info at ALK - Co-Pilot and Inrix
Inrix has launched their Inrix Traffic application for the Android platform following their iPhone launch earlier this year. The application takes advantage of a massive amount of road coverage (160,000 miles covered), and gives you detailed information about the situation on roads around you via color coded maps that you can pan, and zoom on. The Red, Yellow, green designations on roads allows you to quickly see the congestion levels, while incident reports offer insight into some of the causes of the congestion. The Inrix App also forecasts traffic conditions up to an hour into the future so you can see what life might be like if you leave later.
The Inrix traffic application gets its data from a network of road sensors, and traffic probes like Taxi's, delivery trucks, long haul trucks, and other Inrix Traffic users, yes that's right; you and me. On the Terms and Conditions for my iPhone App, they confirm that the application collects anonymous data, and processes it for the traffic reporting and collection. It reads in part: "By using this App, you agree to Inrix's collection, processing, storage transfer and ...use of your non-personally identifiable information (anonymous) as part of Inrix's comprehensive traffic products."
So, join the crew, see what the traffic is like in your area, and help out the rest of us at the same time.
I have to admit that I am a bit o a traffic junkie and am looking forward to the day when I can press a button and have the roads clear ahead of me as I drive to work. That will probably never happen, but short of that, I would settle for being overly informed about the status of the traffic, including accurate predictions of my arrival time, smart alternate routes and automatic re-routes when issues arise.
As connected GPS unit become more mainstream and their connections are made through higher and higher speed technologies, the potential to incorporate traffic cameras, becomes a reality. I am talking about the sometimes streaming camera shots of the traffic on major routes, not the red light cameras that try to catch people as they blow through red lights. The bandwidth needed is real, but the interface issues are easy to overcome. Imagine seeing red on your traffic route, then tap the Cam icon, and a window pops up with either a static image or a streaming image to give you a very good idea of the issue.
Some concerns: Driving off the road or into the back of another car as you look at the streaming traffic, the cost of the service would go up as downloaded content amount goes up, thus driving up the cost of the service beyond what people are interested in paying for, and clunky, unreliable serving of the webcam feeds - they aren't currently known for highly reliable shots of the roadway (glare, rain, mis-directed cameras pointing at the side of a building, etc.)
Despite all of that, I like the potential, and would like to see what a major could do with the idea.
Last week, Nokia/NAVTEQ took a big step forward on the development of their traffic network globally. The basis is the Traffic.com acquisition by NAVTEQ with road sensors, GPS probes and now the very broad network of the Nokia GPS enabled phones. Last week I joked along with Rich over at GPSTracklog.com on my Twitter feed that this move would expand coverage by dozens of miles in the US, but that if course is a little limited. We may have been a little harsh in that assessment. The reality is that this move should have been well anticipated, and should provide the framework for them to start amping up the coverage and feeds of both North America and Europe.
If the aggregation of the datafeeds and subsequent timely reporting out of that information is done well, you can't underplay the importance of adding millions of smart phones as anonymous GPS probes in the understanding of traffic situations and how you can make better decisions about your drive. They clearly have a scale here to make a difference. Should be interesting to see how this comes to life.
Also, NAVTEQ Traffic delivers a single source solution enabling drivers uninterrupted traffic information when crossing borders in 11 countries including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. NAVTEQ Traffic will also be available in Luxembourg and The Netherlands by the end of 2009. This will certainly help Garmin (NAVTEQ Customer) to combat TomTom (Owns TeleAtlas and utilizes in-house data collection of connected GPS) on the Euro turf, and is also an acknowledgement of the advanced need for traffic reporting on the Euro continent.
"Nokia continues to expand its community and delivers technologies that improve the lives of users," said Michael Halbherr, Director of Social Rental Services division at Nokia. "Part of our commitment is to ensure respect for the privacy of users, while offering the best offer traffic information so drivers have the latest information timely. "
Yesterday on the Google blog, it was announced that Google is indeed tracking and analyzing the traffic patterns and movement info of the Google maps users when they opt to show their location to Google, and expanding it nationally to US highways and arterial roads when data is available. By analyzing thousands or millions of phones with map and posted speed limit data, they should be able to start to assemble a traffic picture that starts to build accuracy when overlaid on top of a base set of data (to fill in the gaps).
"When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you're moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers."
The crowdsource sharing capability is available on the MyTouch 3G and the PalmPre; not the iPhone which doesn't support the crowdsource feature. See the Google Blog post for more information and a way that you can opt out if the whole idea of being anonymously tracked by google freaks you out too much.
ATX will provide new Lexus and Toyota cars with OnStar like services in the coming year, with Navigation Enabled cars getting some extra navigation assistance via the agent and an online portal. What caught my interest, and one of our readers Jim is the potential for these cars to act as GPS probes. With Toyota bumping up against GM as the leader car maker, a new source of GPS probes will be entering the market with full force. The future starts to get a lot brighter for vast amounts of GPS probe data:
Road sensors cover main interstates but with gaps in service
Delivery trucks act as GPS probes for major metro areas, covering hundreds of thousands of miles
GPS and cellular equipped cars like those with the ATX service and OnStar add millions of GPS probes all over the US
Smart Phones running navigation programs push back traffic data while you use them - Inrix Traffic, and potentially the forthcoming TomTom iPhone App
Connected GPS units also offer more data, and are the main consumer outlet for traffic information to the consumer
Now one just has to crunch all of that information, overlay it and get it back out to consumers quickly before the data is stale. Not hard is it?
Inrix has launched a direct to consumer application for the iPhone that will have you checking what the traffic is like now, and what predicted traffic will be in the near future. The free application allows you to take a look at the high quality traffic feed data in your metro area on the iPhone and then if you want, click on the "Forecast" button to peer into the future to see what's coming. It might just help you solve the "Should I leave now or wait it out?" question.
The interface is clean and comes with incident reporting. The data comes from their broad "Smart Driver Network" or GPS probe vehicles and road sensors. They claim to have the largest crowd sourced network in the world with over 1 million vehicles on it. TomTom just recently tied up with Inrix for work with their LIVE devices (think GO 740 LIVE and/or the coming iPhone application). No word on exactly how and where the data will be used, because TrafficCast is still part of the deal. The iPhone application is interesting and certainly fills the gap that they have in getting their name and high quality data out there. What it may also be coming is the ability for you to become part of the million+ strong army of GPS probes, reporting back to them the traffic status too. Pure speculation, but the ability to ingest the data and process it in a quick fashion to understand the very dynamic traffic situations, make them strong.
Inrix has announced their first major expansion of capabilities into Europe as they put a solid foot on the ground with 50,000 KM of covered flow data for roadways across major western European countries. Inrix continues on a quality message with the work to demonstrate the quality of their Euro coverage through "ground truth" testing to validate the data set and traffic model work.
"High quality pan-European traffic information simply does not exist today," said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO. "We are working hard to change that, as we did in the U.S., by leveraging key strategic partnerships, using our proven sophisticated technologies and applying our unique and scalable crowd-sourcing model to the aggregation of traffic information."
Next up; the rest of Europe for 2010. Full press release below......