Next step in using GPS and maps?
Ken in Regina
Porsche and Mapbox are collaborating to do something different with GPS and map technology other than standard navigation. TLDR: They're not entirely sure what, yet, but are comfortable that there's another dimension of use we could be interested in.

WIRED is paywalled so if you can't view it at the link, here's the text of the article:


WHEREVER THE FUTURE of driving leads us, Porsche is sure of one thing: We’re going to need some excellent maps. And not just for navigation, either.

That’s why Porsche is announcing today a collaboration with open source mapping platform Mapbox. Designers from the two companies are working together to explore new ways of using in-car maps, making them more than tools for getting from one place to another as efficiently as possible.
The goal for Porsche is to use its cars’ navigation feature as a way to make exploring the world on four wheels more fun and engaging—and thus make driving more experience than chore. Mapbox’s software is useful here because it lets users build their own kinds of maps—it’s what underpins Snap Map and Tinder’s Places. Gana Meissner, Porsche’s head of UX and UI, calls it “a tool that lets designers try things out and experiment like artists do.”

Meissner’s team first came across Mapbox last year, while developing interior graphics for the Mission E Turismo concept. Teams from the two companies met this time last year at Slush, the startup conference in Helsinki, and decided to work together more seriously; three months ago they settled on this more formal partnership.

What their collaboration will yield, exactly, remains to be seen—they haven’t settled on anything that would go into a production car just yet. But maybe it incorporates some sort of augmented reality. Maybe it’s social elements, like leaving “notes” on your favorite roads, for friends who might drive your route a few days later, or for whom you construct an elaborate scavenger hunt.
One thing it’s not is for making your commute better by letting you know which bridge is more horribly choked by traffic, or any other way. “We’re not saying you need to enjoy your commute,” Meissner says. “That’s probably a tough challenge.” And he says it’s not about adding features for the sake of expanding the options list. “We don’t want to cram more stuff into that rectangle. We like it as a rare place to unplug.”

These maps would be tools for exploration, then, rather than navigation. It’s definitely nebulous, but it’s not superfluous. Porsche is wise to be thinking about this way of evolving the in-car experience. Because we’ll drive for fun, curving through the mountains and up the coast, long after the robots eliminate our boring commutes, and that’s where the value of owning a Porsche would be clearest. If the German automaker can keep the act of driving fun with top notch performance while also showing you where your friends have been, or when to hit this hill for the best view, or whatever else it thinks of, it bolsters its argument keeping your hands on the wheel and your feet working the pedals—and the Porsche badge on your hood.


Its funny. When I used to drive for fun, it had nothing to do with what others were doing or had done. It was all about exploring new roads I hadn't experienced. I suppose this was before the advent of social media or maybe because I am not a joiner.

But then, I never expect to own a Porsche anyway!

Ken in Regina
I pretty much resemble that remark. And I'm just as happy if more people don't find some of my favorites.

I have always used maps in this way, which is why I find all the discussions of route planning around here such a bore. Ten years ago I started making (and sharing) my own maps that offer something different from what you can find elsewhere.

So I'm interested in open platforms that can support my maps. Garmin has been a de-facto standard, but mapmakers must use reverse-engineered tools because Garmin considers their format proprietary. This is starting to get old, since the primary software (cgpsmapper) for compiling Garmin maps has been discontinued for several years now, and Garmin's map format is also starting to look like a relic of the 1990's instead of a modern platform.

Anyway, I doubt that Porsche is going to offer anything like what I want, which doesn't matter much since I'm certainly not going to buy a Porsche anyway. Built-in navigation systems are locked down even tighter than Garmin products. And whatever they are up to, no doubt the real goal will be to create some new revenue source.
Ken in Regina
I find it handy to have navigation capability to find specific addresses or shops in town, especially in cities I don't get to very often. I like having a dedicated device in the vehicle but my phone will do in a pinch. Otherwise I pretty much agree with everything you said. Especially about built-in auto nav being a good locked down revenue source.

I just about soiled myself when my sister-in-law told me what it would cost to update the maps in her Ford. It was in the hundreds of dollars. I could buy two or three high end Garmin Nuvis with lifetime maps for the price of one update!

Haha - yes, the built-in systems are expensive to buy and maintain. Too bad, because there are obvious advantages to having something integrated into the vehicle. I suspect they will become a necessary evil in coming years with autopilot systems and "glass cockpits" replacing individual gauges.

I agree that navigation/routing is necessary. That is why Garmin still makes an appealing platform, especially with the prices getting downright reasonable on their high end automotive devices. They include lifetime routable maps with lots of extra features, and the Garmin maps I make simply overlay them. So you get all the standard features of City Navigator, but you see my map on the screen.

BTW... you're dating yourself when you talk about "high end Garmin Nuvis". They Nuvi line was discontinued a number of years ago, although you will still find some available.

Recently noticed that GPSCity has a refurbished Garmin Drive 50 LM for $50 now. Apparentlhy that isn't a special sale, it's been on their site for awhile. Fifty bucks for a device with a 5" screen, lifetime maps and 12 month warranty is pretty remarkable IMO. Only has US maps, but still, that price would have been unthinkable in the past.
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