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The Mobile Nomad: A Needed GPS Feature



The next phase of living my life as a Mobile Nomad is about to begin as I head off to Rock Island, Illinois to direct a couple of plays for Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse. This comes after my wife and I have been on the road since December due to work, the holidays, family visits, and having to leave our condo so that water damage could be repaired due to a broken pipe that occurred during the first Polar Vortex of 2014. She’ll still be living in a hotel and I’ll be living in company housing at Circa 21, so we’ll both be relying on cellular broadband and others’ WiFi to get our work done.

But this post is about a feature I’d like to see in smartphone navigation software. We prefer to drive on long trips when possible. This weekend I’ll be heading about three hours due west to take up residence in Rock Island. For most of the trip I’ll be on one of those  empty Midwest Interstates where at this time of the year all you see is snow carpeted cornfields. But when I pull into Rock Island, I’ll need to use navigation software to get me to my housing.

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Here’s the thing I’d like to see. I would love to be able to program my eventual destination into the navigation software (I alternate between Google Maps and Apple Maps), hit the road, and have the software turn off because it knows I’m driving for several hours without needing prompts or turn by turn directions. When I got closer to my eventual destination the App would wake up and start delivering directions once again.

The reason for this desire is a simple one. Navigation software on a smartphone taxes a system pretty heavily. For long trips you need to plug in your device to keep the battery from running out. On these long trips I don’t need the App showing me that I have 300 miles or so of uninterrupted driving ahead.

I also don’t want to have to pull off the road when I get closer to my eventual destination to pull up the software to program or resume the navigation assistance. If I’m heading into an unfamiliar location I also don’t want to be fumbling with a smartphone to bring the navigation software back on line while I’m driving. On a long trip there’s nothing more disconcerting than having to stop when you’re just shy of arriving before you make the final push.

This probably ranks in the category of first world concerns, but I see no reason that a pre-programmed trip can’t detect that I’m about to be on open road for a duration and use a timing function to turn on and off again. Obviously, if I decide to take a detour I would have the option to reengage the App.

It’s just a thought. But, if you’re like me when driving on a long empty highway I don’t need a GPS screen to remind me that there’s nothing around me.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tracy Cooper Jr.

    02/28/2014 at 5:14 pm

    I’ve thought of the same thing. I was thinking it could wake up when you travel 75 to 80 percent of the time it should take to your next waypoint to check how far you have gone and adjust it’s time/distance measurement based on how far you traveled in that amount of time. Once it has calculated your given speed it could then shut off and turn on when you are 90-95% of the way to your waypoint it could turn on and stay on until you make the turn at which point it starts from step one again.
    The other way would be to use an OBD2 bluetooth adapter to find the speed you are traveling and make the time measurements off of that.

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