SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - Vindigo Inc.'s downloadable navigation guide offers routes to entertainment, shopping, and food near you.
How many times have you stood on a street corner wondering if there's a Chinese restaurant nearby or a place where you can buy your mother flowers? Vindigo and your Palm can show you the way.
Yesterday, Vindigo launched its free downloadable navigation guide to New York City for Palms and Palm-based personal digital assistants. Updated every time you HotSync and are online, the Vindigo database helps you find the nearest shopping, restaurants, and movies. In the next 60 days, Vindigo will add similar services for the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Palm-Sized City Guide
About 450K in size, Vindigo runs on any Palm-compatible device back to the Palm Professional, says David George, cofounder of Vindigo. But for Palms with only 2MB of memory, Vindigo is a sizable application.
Vindigo draws material, including reviews, from local information sites. For example, it gleans from NYToday.com for its New York resources. Once you download the application, Vindigo will help you decide where to eat, shop, or play.
"You just tell [Vindigo] where you are and what you're looking for," George says.
From its database of street intersections in Manhattan, select your location:
23rd and Broadway. Hit "eat" and you can choose a restaurant type. If you're dying for sushi, Vindigo will find a list of nearby Japanese restaurants for which you can read reviews and get walking directions.
"We also have every movie playing in Manhattan," George says.
And to make you feel a part of things, Vindigo encourages users to contribute reviews and feedback; should users find closings or inaccurate listings, Vindigo can update its databases efficiently.
"This isn't just one-way communication," George says. "If you've had a terrible meal, you're one tap away from revenge."
Palm V users can use the wireless Omnisky modem to get receive Vindigo updates.
Wireless updates take 6 to 7 seconds; PC updates take 3 to 4 seconds. Vindigo doesn't yet support the Palm VII.
To keep updates moving quickly through your HotSync cradle, Vindigo updates your Palm with only the bytes that have changed, George says. "It's important that you don't have to wait 8 seconds for a page to load."
Although free to download, Vindigo does send advertisements. The targeted ads take up less than 2K of memory and appear at the bottom of your Palm screen just as you're about to make your decision.
Other services such as CitiKey offer similar information for Palm OS, Windows CE, and wireless Web-enabled mobile phones. Vindigo is aware of its competition. "We're evaluating not only [wireless application protocol] but every platform we could deploy Vindigo to," George says.
While location services hold much of the promise of the wireless Web, handhelds remain mostly wireline. What the portable handheld does offer is better data display and storage for location databases, news, and weather. Like Vindigo, Yahoo recently announced that its resources will be available to all Palms, not just the wireless Palm VII.