Wayfinding with a GPS: Lost Productivity in the Local Realm

In the process of wayfinding with a GPS it shakes out that efficiency drops significantly when you first use the device. Not just the operation of the device, but in the local realm, meaning your own neighborhood, it slows you down.

First, to clarify wayfinding:

In its most literal sense, wayfinding is the ability of a person to find his or her way to a given destination

Results. We (that would be us) want to get there (that would be the destination). The GPS is supposed to help us. It does. I admit that. But not without limitations.

  1. It sucks on the departure. With the exception of directions from current GPS location, it over does the details of leaving our house or office. I should be able to say "I know this area – just take me from the highway"
  2. If a GPS device can track itself, why doesn’t it take past routes into consideration when suggesting future routes? If I *always* take Westpark Tollway in the afternoon over I-10, why can’t it learn that?
  3. It won’t let a passenger work the device while you are driving. You have to stop. This takes us right back to the basic problem that men don’t want to stop for directions anyway. Now we have a device IN THE VEHICLE that we still have to stop and ask directions. Again – this isn’t going to happen. If I have a passenger let them operate the unit! Measure the weight in the seat of the car or something. Fix it!

So there I was, a passenger on a recent business trip, sitting in a fancy car with an onboard GPS and a really cool screen, using my blackberry and google maps to navigate. Go figure.

No other point to this post. Just that GPS have a way to go for real usability. Some of the improvements can be done quite easily as noted above.