Waze Combining Augmented Reality with User Generated Content
PALO ALTO, USA – With the advent of smartphones with embedded GPS chips, navigation devices have become redundant, as navigation applications are increasingly gaining traction in the volatile smartphone market.
While Google is the market leader in this segment with its free-to-use Google Maps, offering guided navigation in many countries, the guided navigation service is still not available to some of the developing countries. Paid navigation applications of the likes of Tom-Tom are again not popular and reliable outside the United States, leaving a relatively unexplored market to new companies. Filling just such void is Waze, with its innovative concept of merging social networking with GPS for providing dynamic user-generated maps.
The concept of user-generated content is not new in the internet age of today, with pioneers including YouTube and Facebook being some of the most popularly used web-services today. Using a similar concept, Waze generates dynamic driving maps and allows users to update traffic information and other notifications to the system, which are then accessible to the entire community of Waze users.
Like every other user-generated-content based service, the success of Waze will depend upon user-participation and acceptance. However, being based on open source platform, gives Waze a distinctive advantage allowing users to make changes in real time and benefit from contribution to the development of service. While competing free services of Google Maps offer free voice-guided navigation on the Android platform for US consumers, Waze is available across iPhone, Windows Mobile and Symbian platforms, thereby increasing the user-base contributing to the development of the service.
The genre of navigation applications has seen a lot of developments in the last few months with Google offering free voice-guided navigation on Android devices (US only), which was then followed by Nokia offering its voice-guided navigation client, Ovi Maps, for free across the globe, making it the most favoured mobile navigation app. With
Waze entering the segment with its innovative blend of social-networking and user-generated content, competition in this genre has hotted up.