For years, researchers have been working on various methods for tapping into all those roving GPS systems in cars and mobile phones to document realtime automobile traffic, but as of today Google has implemented one.
According to the Official Google Blog
"If you use Google Maps for mobile with GPS enabled on your phone .... When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you're moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers. It takes almost zero effort on your part — just turn on Google Maps for mobile before starting your car — and the more people that participate, the better the resulting traffic reports get for everybody."
Again, the idea isn't new. Heck, in 2004, Microsoft even patented its own realtime traffic-jam technology. But this may the first time that such a scheme has a chance of working, depending on how many people opt in. I venture to guess that if you use this in and around the roads of Mountain View, Calif., you'll find Google's traffic predictions spot on.
I still have some reservatons over location-aware applications, however My Location is different in that it isn't broadcasting your whereabouts to everyone. It taps into your phone's GPS to show you your own location on a Google Map. The My Location feature is supported by most web-enabled mobile phones, including Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Nokia/Symbian devices.
Here are some sample pictures of what the traffic layer on Google Mpas for mobile would look like.
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