Jan 15

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Dash: Your Car Gets An API

dash logo
Last week I had the opportunity to get hands-on with the Dash's new interface and learn about its upcoming API (previous Radar post). The internet-connected GPS has gone through quite a few changes since the Beta unit was released.
dash keyboard

The first thing I noticed is that the interaction with the device is very different. The search interface now has a QWERTY keyboard (instead of alphabetical). When you search you are given the choice of searching Yahoo! Local or the on board data (the locations of airports, gas stations, food, hospitals and other POI types). The new hardware is much, much slicker.

The maps on the device now always show traffic. They are using data from Inrix to get down to arterial side streets. They are also pulling from their own historical records (gleaned from Dash users like yourself) when calculating routes and where realtime data is unavailable. When looking at the map the realtime traffic is in a solid line and the historical (predictive) is dashed.

The web portal (called My Dash) has also received a refresh not the least of which are custom Placebase maps designed to highlight traffic. On the portal you can create (and share) new sets of POI, import KML, and send it all to your car. This will be very handy for taking all of your Platial and Google My Maps in the car with you.

At the end of the month the Dash will get a RESTful API. At the user's initiative lat/long coordinates can be sent to a server. The Dash will consume a GeoRSS feed. This is just the first release. In the future they may add HTML pages, search and even the ability to poll. The device I saw did not have any API-driven apps loaded, but I can imagine great ones (update my location and finding out who from my YASN contacts are nearby).

I am excited for the Dash. I want to be able to send content to and from my car. I relish the idea of being able to sync geo-content between my computer and my car. The devices are spendy (at $599 with a monthly charge of around 10 for the GPRS) and available for pre-order. It'll be shipping in Q1.

The Dash has reinforced two trends for me. One is the need for multi-touch on an screen-based device. As I navigated menus and maps I kept trying to flick and expand like I would my iPhone. It only worked on one screen. The rest are button or slider based. As Tim commented about the Kindle, the interface felt dead. In the Dash's defense the product team realizes this. They are concerned that multi-touch requires too much attention whereas the buttons and sliders, while less sexy, are more precise

The second is the need for a ubiquitous internet connection. My phone has it. The Kindle has it. My camera (when equipped with an Eye-Fi SD card) has one when wifi is around. The new Garmin Forerunner 405 will also take advantage of wifi. Now my car will (Radar post). More and more the internet is going to be needed for every device.

(Image courtesy of Dash, more on Flickr)

tags: geo, web 2.0  | comments: 5   | Sphere It

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Comments: 5

  David B [01.15.08 09:56 PM]

I used the Dash in beta and loved it.
Especially the live traffic feeds. Very helpful.

I had a bunch of feedback and much seems to have been covered by this new rev. Worst being the abc keyboard.

Your closing comments however go to my biggest prob with all these upcoming products. To be truly useful they require realtime web connectivity. And each one has a charge for it. Taken to its extreme I'll end up paying $100+ for web connectivity.
$50 for home, $20 additional for tmobile data plan, $10 for dash, $? for kindle, ? for that other cool gadget.

I ge tthat same feeling with interfaces. My PVR needs me to use my awkward remote to search for programs via cursor movements. But I have my phone next to me with bluetooth. Why can't I use it to "type" the search args and dispense with remote?

  Ruedi [01.16.08 01:28 AM]

very good find. it´s an amazing thing and i never heard about it before. it seems that in the near future the most cars are a part of the internet. would we have a "rolling website"? i love the posibilities.

  Andy Wong [01.16.08 02:54 PM]

Great. Let me hack into it through the lovely API (nothing heard about security?) and guide you all the ways to the heaven.

  Andy Wong [01.16.08 03:00 PM]

It is more convenient and safer to have voice-control, otherwise, sooner or later, for public safety, ... you know.

  Josh Spaulding [01.18.08 08:14 AM]

I have a little GPS that I paid $180 for at Wal-Mart. It has 90% of the abilities mentioned above and is extremely accurate and useful :)

I guess all of the little technical goodies would be neat for some, but my little cigarette outlet powered cheapy does wonders for me.

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