At an event in NYC last week, Harold Goddjin, the CEO of Tom Tom, announced the company’s traffic manifesto: Tom Tom wants to reduce traffic wait times per individual by 15%. Based on the assumption that 75% of workers drive every day and have a commute of at least 30 minutes, Goddjin identifies traffic as a big problem worth solving, citing fuel consumption and higher stress levels as two main reasons for concern.
Manifestos have made me a little nervous ever since the Unibomber. But the story is a compelling one. I also had a chance to test their new product, Tom Tom Live HD, this weekend. The TomTom magic sauce is the use crowdsourcing information. You are receiving and putting out real time data about your speed to the Tom Tom network. The data (updated every 2 minutes – faster than any competitor they claim) comes from a variety of live traffic feeds, incident information, fleet information, individual users, and a number of other sources of data that will improve as more drivers share information.
Testing out the TomTom I found the services to be quite helpful but the interface surprisingly non-intuitive. The touch screen is large and clear, but lack simple icons and use of more traditional GPS standards (:30 means 30 minutes). Icons are buried under driving stats on the screen making it difficult to see them. We have ourselves giggling each time we wanted to do something like look for gas station or turn on the warning for speed cams on the road. Each time we got there, but never the same way. I worry that an interface that’s so confusing might cause “the distracted driver” scenario.
The HD Traffic service is currently available on all TomTom LIVE Models, and will ultimately be available in many configurations: an in-dash product, a standalone GPS unit, and a mobile app. LIVE is a subscription service, and in addition to traffic, other benefits include local search, fuel prices, weather forecasts and more. The annual subscription cost is $59.95.