Technology of Things
GPS has transformed the way we navigate our world, but new apps mean we will be
Never Get Lost Again – New apps let us find any place, any time
When was the last time you got lost? Throughout my years of travel, I have spent hours struggling to find my way out of Shinjuku station in Tokyo, been unintentionally driven into the desert by a non-English speaking taxi driver in Marrakech, pounded endless dark roads in Beijing in search of my hotel, and have nearly been robbed by street kids in Paris when wandering into the wrong arrondissement. Research from O2 Travel has suggested UK tourists spend an average of 22 million hours lost abroad each year. And it’s not just vacationers – even well organized, smartphone-wielding business travelers have this problem.You might not have an Internet connection to check your whereabouts; your driver can’t read the address you have given him; you can’t decipher the street signs – if they exist at all; you’re trying not to draw attention to yourself by looking at a map; or the route you have been given is wrong. It’s stressful, time consuming and can leave you vulnerable. It can also equate to inefficiency and a loss of earnings on a grand scale. Think about delivery companies such as UPS, which supply their drivers with trucks without doors to save them a few extra seconds. When a drop-off location is hard to find, fewer parcels can be signed for in a day. In 2013, UPS started using computer platform Orion to show optimal routings for the average 120 daily deliveries each of its drivers has to perform on a possible 55,000 US routes. The algorithm, running at 1,000 pages long, is expected to save the company $300 to $400 million a year when fully up and running in 2017. A saving of one mile a day per driver would mean UPS would be $50 million a year better off.