There is always a
Christian Heilmann, WhereCamp Sunnyvale
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• I am terribly bad at reading maps
and driving instructions.
• Directions like “take the street
north” don’t work for me unless I
have a compass with me.
• Furthermore, I am normally not in a
car, but use public transport, cycle
or walk (London, eh?)
• However, I have a good photographic
• Instructions from me would be:
– Walk down the street towards the big
building with the crown on top.
– You’ll go past a sex shop on the right,
followed by a kebab place and a news
stand with a grumpy looking man with
a shaggy beard inside.
– After about 5 minutes and two bus
stops there’ll be a pub called “The
• These are human-readable
instructions, and they don’t have the
problems others have, which are:
– North, South, West and East are not
obvious when you don’t have a compass
– Street signs are amazingly expensive
and there is no real need to keep them
– Post codes are an approximation.
• Using these principles and GPS
devices we could create more human
instructions how to find your way
• This could also be an accessibility
• Humanware in Canada have
developed a GPS driven device for
• This device allows a person with a
disability to explore unknown
• The problem is that instructions for
sighted people are not necessarily
the right ones for blind people.
• Good instructions are catered for the
person who needs them and written
by somebody with a similar
• Therefore in order to come up with
really human-friendly map
applications and GPS devices we’ll
need to work on a format to define
• One option is to take a leaf out of the
book of SMIL.
• Use XML to define a time-line with
GPS data translated to the different
• Last but not least, we need more
– Right now, local applications show
things like petrol stations, cafés, shops
and points of interest.
– Where is the information about clean
free public toilets*?
– Where are the hangouts of beautiful
– Where can I safely deposit my luggage
when I have 3 hours to kill before my
– Where can I get the cheapest, but also
best quality “My son went to San
Francisco but all I got is this lousy T-