Years ago when we wanted to go somewhere we would have to pull out a map, most likely a massive book of maps, and go through with a magnifying glass and a highlighter to mark out our route. We would pour over these little veins crisscrossing throughout the page and look for shortcuts and try to remember where traffic usually builds up (if it was a familiar location). We would make photocopies of these maps, or hand draw them depending on how far back you go, and take them with us on the road. Hopefully we were able to pick up some tips along the way as we stopped at gas stations and diners, and with a bit of luck would make it to our destination on schedule. The problem back then was if you deviated from the map at hand, or the written directions, you could really find yourself lost.
We all knew that there had to be a better way to get from point A to point B and soon enough we had maps online that you could use to find the best route already calculated for you and then just simply print out the directions. This was a step up but nowhere near what we would eventually achieve when our smartphones got a little smarter. When GPS came along for the regular consumer it took travel to a whole new level. Now the risk of getting ‘lost’ was vastly minimized and at worst, you would find yourself ‘off track’ if anything. For years you would see vehicles with that big box stuck to the windshield, directing the passengers all over the place. With minor variables you could change your car icon into a place, change the voice to Homer Simpson, and a variety of other features. These were very handy yet they were still lacking some important features such as real time road conditions and traffic backups. Eventually they came to include these though as our phones got smarter we had less use for a second device.
Our phones can now take us from point A to point B, whether it be by foot, bike, car, or plane, with real time updates and route optimization. It is not uncommon to use your map apps even when you know exactly where you are going, just to keep up to date with traffic accidents, backups and delays. Why spend any more time than you need to driving around, especially if you have deliveries to make or a car full of screaming babies (hopefully restrained with a safe car seat!). Thanks to the advancement of mapping systems we can all now enjoy the perks of getting somewhere on time and not being lost in the middle of the night in the sticks. Travel has come a long way in the past dozen years and the introduction of GPS into our lives has made a great impact. It is exciting to think about what comes next in the world of navigation systems.