Monday, September 14, 2009

GPS: Quit Bossing Me Around!

This article from the Economist Technology Quarterly (The Economist, Sept. 5, 2009) really got me thinking:

The road ahead
From The Economist print edition
Consumer electronics: Your next satellite-navigation device will be less bossy and more understanding of your driving preferences

Despite its remarkable technology (remember when we once used paper maps?), this article raises some insightful points about the emotional impact of current GPS interfaces:

DO YOU get a quiet sense of satisfaction in deviating from the route recommended by your satellite-navigation device and ignoring its bossy voice as it demands that you “make a U-turn” or “turn around when possible”? A satnav’s encyclopedic knowledge of the road network may justify its hectoring tone most of the time, but sometimes you really do know better. The motorway might look like the fastest way but it can be a nightmare at this time of the day; taking a country lane or a nifty shortcut can avoid a nasty turn into heavy traffic; or sometimes the chosen route is simply too boring.

This is so true. The often abrupt commands can really grate on a person after several times. (I have friends who refer to their GPS as "Carmen", and often find themselves fighting/disagreeing with her on a drive.)

But most important, this points out that great innovation and technology is one thing; but how we interact with it is another.

What would you do recommend to improve the GPS user experience?

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