Monday, 10 february 2020 | Redacción CEU
What is the first thing that we do when we have to go to a place that we have never visited before? We try to decide which route is the best and calculate how long it will take. Nowadays, only the nostalgic, obstinate and disconnected people would use a map as a first option in a case like this. Not surprisingly, technology based on geo-positioning has won over our society. Such is its development that it is not only influencing the emergence and consolidation of new business models, but it may even be changing our brain. Thus, what can we expect from this technology?
A few years ago, in a demonstration in Berlin, the German artist Simon Weckert realized that, due to the high concentration of people in the place, Google Maps had interpreted that there was a big traffic jam there. This fact encouraged him to design his project called "Google Maps Hack". His idea was to deceive the tech firm’s navigation system, by using only one wheelbarrow and 99 smartphones. The experiment worked.
Weckert wanted to draw attention to the trust we place in tech platforms and companies. With this simple trick, the artist managed to transform the reality: the drivers who used the application at that time chose an alternative route or were guided to a new one.
Weckert’s experiment seems not to have bothered Google. One of its spokespersons explained to Business Insider that this technology can already distinguish between motorcycles and cars in some countries, but is not able to identify wagons yet. The Google representative also claimed that the tech company appreciates seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this, as it helps them make maps work better over time.
The arrival of global positioning systems known under the GPS acronym was a revolution for the world of mobility. This technology can be now found in cars, agricultural machinery, ships, airplanes, etc. However, if there is a formula that has been decisive in the boost of positioning technology, it is the proposal put forward by Google. An unequivocal proof of this is the fact that most smartphones in the market already have this application installed when customers buy them.
Does this mean that automotive navigation devices are condemned to disappear? At this time, as in most businesses, everything depends on the ability that the companies dedicated to their development have to adapt themselves to new consumer habits, to the new digital scenario, to the evolution of the business and to the progress of their competitors. It should not be forgotten that these devices continue to have some advantages over other navigation systems like Google Maps, for instance, when drivers travel abroad. They also show more precise indications or have batteries that last longer.
Regarding the future of Google Maps, it should be said that Weckert did not arbitrarily choose the date of his project. He did it in such a way that it coincided with the celebration of the app’s fifteenth anniversary. The company also took advantage of this opportunity to announce its new services. Some of the most striking ones are social proposals such as users sharing recommendations about the places they have visited or Google Maps’ suggestions on trendy stores and places. These are functions that are more similar to those used on social networking sites. This fact leads us to reflecting on the new direction that the development of this service might take. It also offers us an idea of how the technology behind Google Maps may evolve.
At this point, it should be remembered that, despite the popularity of GPS technology, there are more actors involved in the universe of geo-positioning. This is the case of the Russian proposal GLONASS, the European Galileo or the Chinese Beidou. Satellite navigation services are key today; therefore, these major world powers do not want to depend on the technology of a third party. In turn, all of them are working on optimizing their systems. For example, according to Nikkei, Beidou would be about to go from an accuracy of five meters to one of a few centimeters. Being more and more precise is another of the great aspirations of this technology.
In recent years, geolocation has aroused great interest in the business world, so much so that it has contributed to the emergence of new business models like the platforms based on offering ridesharing or carsharing services and to the design of new strategies used in proximity-based marketing. Likewise, this technology can also have a decisive role in solving police investigations or in the tracking of missing people like mountaineers or people with Alzheimer. Precisely due to the great interest that it arouses and its social penetration, it is expected that, in the coming years, more and more businesses and sectors will bet on it.
This technology is changing our habits and presumably will continue to do so as it continues progressing. If so, this might have an impact on our brains. This is what some researches point out. Specifically, they consider that it could affect the area of the brain that is responsible for the consolidation of memory and learning. The experts behind these studies indicate that with GPS technology, we do not need to interpret a map, orient ourselves or plan a route, and that means less work for our brain. If we do not exercise it, it weakens. Nonetheless, there are also experts who believe that new technologies do not have to impact negatively. In fact, they may work as a "hard drive" to leave space for what matters.
The rules of the game in the automotive industry are also changing. That is the reason why The CEU IAM Business School offers a Master´s Degree in the Automotive Industry Businesses that aims to provide its students with the knowledge, skills and tools enabling them to address situations in this sector through the analysis and the professional approach. Ask for further information with no obligation on your part!