Smarter Google Maps Would Add Movement and Templates for Tasks

Would you use an internet mapping system that could show you changes in distances to places that you’ve identified as you move around?

How about one where specific templates could be created to show you information about locations to help you with tasks such as home hunting or school hunting or vacationing?

Google explores those kinds of abilities in a new patent application titled Dynamic Exploration of Electronic Maps (US Patent Application 20080059205).

Google Electronic Map

The templates for different tasks could be created by Google or Google users or by both. The maps might use some technology like AJAX to update distances and other information on the fly.

For a task like house hunting, the patent filing gives us the following example of some of the metrics that might be shown on the map, or next to the map:

  1. Demographic, psychographic, and/or other statistical data describing a population of a region,
  2. Boundary data describing governmental and quasi-governmental boundaries,
  3. Cost information describing costs of living,
  4. Real estate values,
  5. Fuel costs,
  6. Traffic and weather data describing traffic congestion, average temperatures, and air quality,
  7. Location data describing locations of entities such as offices, commercial centers, schools, religious facilities, hospitals and public transportation,
  8. Average noise,
  9. Locations of registered sexual offenders,
  10. Whether ocean views are available from a location etc.,
  11. Others.

Being able to set up your own template for the next time you go on a vacation, or when you are going on shopping excursions, or looking at schools in an area could be really useful.

It would be great to see this developed more fully, and in a way that would work well on a smart phone or PDA since it could show things like changes in distances to different destinations on the map and traffic congestion information.

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23 thoughts on “Smarter Google Maps Would Add Movement and Templates for Tasks”

  1. Pingback: Learn SEO: The Art of Creating Titles
  2. This development ties in with mobile search, where triangulating with cellphone towers can provide a fairly exact approximation of a users position. Now imagine typing the keyword pizza into your mobile device and a map coming up displaying the nearest pizza spot (or submitted/reviewed pizza spot, with user satisfaction index also displayed…heheheh)

    That’s pretty much where we’re heading with mobile search, and this patent application helps define the way forward as seen by google, amongst others.

  3. Wow, this looks like it could be a really useful tool. I can see this taking off big time, especially in real estate. Providing that much information within one tool, real estate agents would be crazy not to put it on their sites.

  4. This is more than just another map or local search development. It could give a whole new, realtime meaning to “Googling” people.

    As a previous poster observed –

    This development ties in with mobile search, where triangulating with cellphone towers can provide a fairly exact approximation of a users position.

    This new Google map search functionality opens a potential pandora’s box on privacy issues, but, then again, that has been said ad nauseum about almost every major development on the internet.

    So on we go. Things certainly remain interesting over at Google.

  5. @ Jaques, that kind of base tower triangulation is interesting. I think a lot of mobile search might be moving in this direction.

    @ Mike, when I read this, the thought of a mobile Zillow entered my head. But there’s lots more. It would be fun to have something like this for the next vacation.

    @ Angie, yes.

    @ Peoplefinder, some interesting things going on at Google. As for the realtime aspects, I’ve been wondering if Google will do anything special with Dodgeball (Internet Archive link). I agree with your concerns about privacy.

  6. This type of mapping will take us to the next level. A mapping system that can give reviews and local businesses by keyword on a mobile device. There may be some privacy issues however which some people will not be to fond of.

  7. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The development of mobile search may be the future for Google. It probably provides local businesses more exposure. This in turn may aid Google’s efforts to generate more locally targeted advertising from retail and service businesses.

  8. @ NewSunSEO, thanks for stopping by. Making mapping more useful for mobile is an important step for the search engines. A lot more folks will be accessing the web on phones than on desktop computers…

    @ Oribium SEO, You’re welcome, and thank you for being a long time reader. I agree. Improvements to local search could benefit their local advertising efforts, and there is a lot of potential for that to be a pretty big marketplace.

  9. This is an especially interesting program, especially from the standpoint of real estate. Having clients in this industry who are constantly looking for new technology, I’m sure they would embrace it. The days of families going around on a Sunday afternoon looking through open houses is fading away. Now prospects research homes online before they visit them. It saves them time and gas.

  10. Ok I am all for technology but what is the next step for Google and why this technology? It was funny yrs ago how video sucked on the net and was a distraction for the site. Now that google acquired YouTube we see new sites/videos fly to the top of Goggle ranking like to impress the use of their own system. Are we seeing a first strike that one day Goggle may own a cell phone company to handle this mass amount of mobile communication?

    Don’t get me wrong I would buy it – hate the providers out there today!

  11. Hi John,

    Google has been releasing a number of patent filings that would take advantage of a web that is accessed by mobile devices, and I think that it’s a good move on their part.

    Without a doubt, we are going to see more people going online with their phones than with their desktop computers, and a mapping system and template system like the one here does sound like it could be pretty useful.

    I don’t think that Google needs to own a cell phone company for this to work well, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them get much more involved in the mobile web. :)

  12. This would make an awesome feature for the existing geo-location tools built into the Blackberry version of Google Maps. Currently, the triangulation isn’t very accurate, but hopefully technology like this could improve upon that.

  13. Hi Dan,

    I suspect that we will see this kind of p-hysical location identification technology develop a lot in the next few years, making it more likely that this could be something that goes from intellectual property in a patent filing to reality.

    I’m watching the Google My Location, which is presently in Beta, to see how it develops.

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  15. After reading your blog for a while, I’d like to thank you for your content. Who REALLY knows the future of Google? After watching a Biography show about the founders, it seems they’re open to all kinds of ideas, especially when $ is on the table. I honestly believe that if Google thinks that a revenue generating idea will “do no harm,” they’ll do it. Otherwise, they’ll start declining in revenue.

    Chris

  16. Thank you, Chris.

    I think it is going to be interesting to see where Google goes next, and I think that they will have some surprises in store for us.

  17. This would make an awesome feature for the existing geo-location tools built into the Blackberry version of Google Maps. Currently, the triangulation isn’t very accurate, but hopefully technology like this could improve upon that.

  18. Hi Dan,

    The types of templates described in this patent would be nice to see.

    There’s been a lot of talk about a much stronger version of Wifi over the last couple of days that could make the use of mobile devices even more pervasive in the not too distant future. The development of that might include a way to improve location detection.

  19. I’ve never had a problem with Google. And I REALLY doubt most people can honestly say they have either.
    We always cheer on the “under-dog,” but when the UNDER DOG became the GOLIATH, it started causing us problems.
    But as I see it, if a company grows as fast as Google, and “We” the people gain soooo many benefits from this company’s growth,
    than why not? I’m NOT going to be a person wishing to wish “ill will” on Google.

    Thanks,
    Marnie

  20. Hi Marnie,

    Thanks. Google has grown tremendously over the past few years, but they do seem to be striving to innovate and try new things that do provide value to us.

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