Google MyMaps—the new customizable maps feature that lets you add placemarks and routes and save them on a map—is awesome. GPS devices are awesome. How awesome would it be if you could put your MyMaps on your GPS device? Okay, so the title of the post sorta gives away that this extreme awesomeness has been achieved, and the video here is the how-to. The middle man making it possible is a new site quite stupidly named takitwithme, that takes your MyMaps URL and converts it to a Garmin-friendly format using Garmin's new Communicator API, or to a plain GPX file for other devices.
This is a capability I've been begging GPS companies to enable for years: Give us a map-like online interface where we can easily create our own routes and waypoints and transfer them to a GPS device. This would not only make trip planning much easier, but think of all the custom routes and points of interest you could create. If I had a friend headed to Austin, I could send them Mike's Tour of Central Texas BBQ. Businesses could make maps available with all their locations, enthusiast groups could put together maps with all the best bike shops, or sewing circles, or whatever. To me, this capability could make GPS devices (or GPS-capable phones) infinitely more useful on a day-to-day basis. The most frustrating thing about the lack of such a service is that every GPS engineer and PR person I've suggested this to over the years has agreed that it's a great idea. So where is it?!
Takitwithme + Garmin isn't the perfect implementation, to be sure—it only works on certain Garmin devices, and although I haven't tested it yet, I get the feeling it's a little wonky. But I love the direction it's headed. Hopefully, enough people will jump on this that Garmin or one of the other GPS makers will finally make this a standard feature.—Mike Haney
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.