Real info, real time

Will real-time traffic data be the killer app for in-car satellite service?

While my Smartphone can apparently be used to make voice calls, and I do in fact use it that way, it is currently most useful for me as a real-time traffic monitor for my commute.  I routinely make last-minute decisions on which way to drive home from work based on what it tells me.  And twice in the last month it has saved me at least half an hour by showing me that going home from southern King County by taking I-5 North instead I-405 North would avoid a big traffic jam.

The real-time traffic monitor software that I use is not publicly available (it’s a research project funded by my employer), but there are publicly available alternatives.

It makes me wonder if — more than a wide variety of digital music — the thing that will drive adoption of satellite service in cars will be real-time traffic-based trip routing built into navigation systems, which is just starting to be offered by auto manufacturers.  It’s certainly something I’ll consider the next time I’m in the market for a new car (which I hope is at least five years from now).

Of course, what I’d really like is to be able to buy a single subscription that gets me network bandwidth everywhere I want it:  home broadband, mobile phones, WiFi hotspots (inc. in-flight), and in-car audio and data.  Right now I would have to pay for and manage all four of these separately.

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