While it is getting easier to tell one’s automotive infotainment system to call a particular person or to play a particular song, one of the troublesome aspects of navigation systems tends to be that Lucy, Ethel, Ricky, Fred, or whomever you’ve named your navi system to be is talking instructions at you provide what is essentially “machine” guidance. That is, they tell you to “Turn left in 500 feet” or something along those lines, as though you have some sort of retinal measurement system that allows you to calculate distance within feet.
NAVTEQ has developed a system that it claims is more akin to what people tell people when providing instructions, as in “Turn right at the next traffic signal.” It’s called “Natural Guidance.”
Says Tiffany Treacy, NAVTEQ senior vp of product management, “Natural Guidance provides the kid of directions we crave as humans.” Well, “crave” might be too strong a word, but. . . . She continues, “It challenges the man-machine status quo of how navigation systems have worked for years by finally enabling the kind of guidance that sounds like it’s coming from a friend who is riding along with you.”
Given the massive amounts of data that has to be collected and modeled for this to work, the Natural Guidance isn’t available for all locales at this point. Berlin, Chicago, the National Capital Region of Delhi, London, LA, New York, Munich, and Paris are covered, however, and plans call for more cities in the coming months.
One can only hope that if it is “a friend who is riding along with you” that it is a non-directionally challenged one—“Turn left. No, not that left, the next left, the one after the tree. No, not that tree, the next tree. . . .”