You're driving to Grandma's house. You've got 200 miles to go. In the car with you: a fatigued spouse, two kids at each other's throats, and a slobbering Labrador Retriever with a full bladder. You're hungry, the gas tank is nearly empty, and you want to get off the road for dinner. Where do you stop?
Traditional roadside placards and billboards might tell you what's next on your route. Some GPS units and apps will show you what's beyond that as well. But nothing I've seen yet is as dialed in to the road-tripper's dilemma as a new app launching today: RoadAhead.
RoadAhead is a smartphone app (iPhone only so far: iTunes link) that can tell you which exit to take when you're on the move and looking for a certain combination of services. Say you want a sit-down dinner, gas, and a playground. You can select just that combination, and the app will show you which of those services are at each exit ahead of you. It will rank services based on how well they fit in with your direction of travel--if possible, it won't route you across a freeway or far off the beaten path.
Most importantly, it won't ever show you attractions or services that are behind you. Because we don't double back, kids. If you wanted to go to Burger King, you should have told me 30 miles ago.
RoadAhead founder Jeffrey Beir (formerly of North Bridge Venture Partners, Xerox, Lotus, and his own start-up, eRoom) tells me the technical challenge to building this app was not trivial. A proprietary database takes available map and business data and enables the app to route based on direction of travel. "It's a tough algorithm," he says.… Read more