Jun 1, 2011

Google, GPS & Me

[Written with Blogger for Android]

It is always scary when you wake up out of no where, during a long journey, especially at the middle of the night, and you ask youself one single question: "Where the hell am I?". I don't know how people manage to get down on time, during a over-night travel. Possible ways would be,
  1. Don't sleep. Keep your eyes wide open. Get down on time. (Only maniacs do this)
  2. Keep an alarm. Traditional way. If it is a frequently traveled destination, you would eventually know the approximate travel time. You can get down easily, unless you don't sleep desspite the alarm.
  3. Tell the driver. He knows when the place comes, and he can get you down on time.
  4. Board the bus that has your destination as the last point, which ensures that will always get down on the right place. Even if you over-sleep, you will still get kicked out.
That's all I know. This is such a simple task and there won't be much possibilities. If you know other ways of getting-down-on-time, I am eager to see you write a comment about it. For the current trip, I used a combination of 2 & 3. I told the driver that I wanted to get down in Chidambaram, and he nodded. On the safer side, while I started at 12 AM, I kept an alarm on 3:20 AM, which is very earlier than the average time, which is 4 hours. I slept deeply, despite the humpy-bumpy jerks and still managed to wake up 4 minutes before 3:20 AM.

A quick peek outside revealed a vast majority of darkness and a little of paddy plantations. You have lot such plantations throughout Tamil Nadu, and you will never clearly ge to know where you are. The operating officer boy did not come to wake me up also. I advanced the alarm by 20 more minutes, and slept again. When I woke up again, witnessed a similar sight, as if the bus did not move for a longer while. Same darkness and plantations, and  no damn idea where I was. Suddenly it struck me that I could take my phone out, and identify the location. One of the advantages of using an Android powered phone.

While the Google Maps app started to load, I prepared my mind for embarrassment. I personally felt that I screwed up, and pondered over the possible options. And few seconds later, I found out that I have crossed my destination, and I am now near mayiladuthurai a.k.a mayavaram, a place 60 miles away. While there was some disappointment, I did not worry much. I prepared myself for that situation in advance, and felt fortunate to have found it this earlier. This bus goes to pattukottai, a place 500+ miles from home....I only asked myself, "what next??".

Well at 4 in the night, you can never do any 007 heroics in India. You just have to get down at the next recognizable location and take another bus back home. I did that, and that's where I am writing this blog from: "Mayavaram bus Stop". I was lucky to get a chidambaram bus here, and I am on the way home now.

After all this happened, a little idea struck my mind. How about an intelligent alaram that will wake you up when you near your destination? This requires a solution that makes use of the Navigation API and Alarm API. Scope is simple. I lock a location. It should ring when I near it.

Any takers? I was very good at ideas but the laziest out there, when it comes to implementing it on my own. If I still overcome my lazynesss and go on to build such an app, I will blog it, surely!

#Update: My friend vivek told me that such an app already exist in the Android Market, and it eats a lot of your battery. Well, it have to as it requires continuous checks between the current location and destination!


  1. Existing app's name is travel mate. But there s no fun installing yet another android app.

    Go to appinventor for android. There s a tutorial for the same.


    (Yet another android fan )

  2. Nice one to start with (I intend to point towards the blog), you got me to read the whole story Vignesh.

  3. Hi Laxmi, I m very glad that you had the time to open my blog post :)

    Nithin, not sure what appinventor is. So I will read more about it...

  4. hey nice one. :-) This is how an idea is born. Just create such app... Add your app to competition. You never know, your app may be the best. :)


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