Thursday, March 30, 2006

Going to Banff? Try a GPS Guided Tour

[Update: New companies listed at this post].

Or Calgary, Victoria, Vancouver, New Zealand... The coverage map for British Columbia and Alberta shows what is currently available and what is planned. The Canadian-based GPS Tour Guide developed and distributes the product/service.

"The hardware, a handheld computer running Microsoft Windows Pocket PC, will be rented to tourists in Western Canada at $49 CAN for the first day and $35 CAN for each additional day."
Install the PDA to the windshield, plug the AC adapter and turn it on. Select a tour and check the comments in English or German coming out from the FM radio according to the G&M story below.
"The tours are 'themed' to be organized and logical rather than just a random selection of facts and figures. There is a mixture of human history, natural history, current issues, quirky tales, and more. You will enjoy a far more fulfilling experience than someone who is traveling without the guide."
Reservations are suggested and you can also pick the PDA at Vancouver and Calgary airports. Globe & Mail has the story.

New Zealand

Kruse developed a similar system for travelers to New Zealand. According to their National Tourism Organisation website:
"Auckland-based Jonathan Kruse has developed a talking tour guide based on GPS. Kruse's systems are available for hire: plug it into the cigarette lighter and drive around New Zealand listening to recorded narrations."
Check the current coverage and sample comments. Wired wrote about it.

Montgomery, Alabama

But these are not the first GPS guided tours to come up. The Montgomery (Alabama) Area Transit Systems (MATS) launched about a year ago the Lightning Route developed by IntelliTours and Spotlight Mobile.

The tour of Montgomery includes "audio narration at 45 locations around downtown, recounting Civil War and Civil Rights histories". Montgomery is the place where "in 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church" according to his biography at the Nobel Prize website.

S.F. & Downtown Seattle

We covered the GoCars from Frisco a while ago and it seems that Gray Line also has walking tours for Downtown Seattle.

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