Sunday, March 18, 2012

GPS App Takes You on an Audio Tour


Detour app

Andrew Mason, one of the founders of the popular group coupon app, Groupon, recently launched a new app that utilizes GPS and interesting historical facts and annotations to create audio tours to take locals and visitors to little known locations with local history. The app is very new and is currently only available on iPhones, with Android support expected soon.

“Most of the audio tours that exist today are about what’s popular inside museums,” Mason told US News. “What we are trying to do is turn the world into a museum.”

DETOUR2The app, called Detour, is currently only offering tours in San Francisco, and users can either subscribe to the service or purchase each tour separately. Eventually, the company hopes to offer tours across the country and maybe even open the platform so that locals can create their own tours. Most of the tours last about an hour.

I’m not a huge fan of audio tours generally, but what made this app catch my attention was its use of GPS. Basically, the app is designed to be hands-off so a user can simply plug in headphones, put the phone in a bag and go. Using GPS positioning and geofencing along a route, the app will guide users to look in the correct direction, almost like an augmented reality with audio.

Since I don’t live in San Francisco (and I don’t have an iPhone anyway), I have unfortunately not had the chance to try out this app and see how cool it is. But, the idea of using GPS in such a creative way to get people out and about is something that I can certainly applaud. If you’ve tried out the app, let me know what you thought in the comments!

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