New Bay Bridge Explorer app could change the way we learn to drive

May 19, 2011
Tech

You know what sucks about Driver’s Ed? Nearly everything. Half the time, you’re sitting in a class room memorizing the shape and color of traffic signs so that when you’re finally tested you can correctly label the sign without any of its actual identifying marks on it. This despite the fact that I have never […]

You know what sucks about Driver’s Ed? Nearly everything.

Half the time, you’re sitting in a class room memorizing the shape and color of traffic signs so that when you’re finally tested you can correctly label the sign without any of its actual identifying marks on it. This despite the fact that I have never encountered a sign in my entire life that was actually missing any of the information that would prevent a person from knowing exactly what it was trying to convey.

The time you don’t spend doing that, you’ll spend in a car with a few of your fellow students and an instructor whose job it is to make sure you follow every single rule of the road. Forget to double-check your blind spot? That’s a paddlin’. They may as well hold a revolver up to your head while you drive and yell “Bang!” the moment you make a mistake, so nerve-wrecking is the feeling of driving next to someone who exists solely to judge you.

But perhaps not everyone’s experience was filled with such anxiety. I am speaking from the perspective of someone who had to re-take the driving portion of the test, although I did ace the written portion. Take that, blank red sign! So maybe all of this is just a little bit of sour grapes coming to the forefront now, spurred on by a fascinating article at CNET about a new iOS app, Bay Bridge Explorer, that will let you virtually navigate a new detour across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge before you get to drive it yourself.

READ  The Ultimate Guide to Phone Security

Not living in San Francisco, it’s difficult to judge the practicality of the app, but there are so many things I like about the idea regardless. Focusing on its primary use, as a nerd who loves to plan things, the idea of seeing exactly how and where this detour might take me is immediately appealing. If I could see where numerous detours would route me on my drive home without having to actually take them, I would absolutely spend at least an hour browsing.

For some people, this probably sounds less than ideal. Even the very idea of the sheer monotony of watching a car drive a route reminds me of my odd fascination with manual labor in video games as a kid. Remember Shenmue? The Dreamcast RPG where your spent considerable game time lugging boxes on a fork-lift and you realized how boring being a fork-lift operator would actually be?

I remember reading about it thinking how cool that sounded and although the game wasn’t bad at all, those fork-lift scenes were brutal. I admit that viewing a route before you physically drive on it would have a similar “paint-drying excitement” to it, but I think this time it could actually be useful, especially for those who have taken the same route for years and are totally unprepared for a new way to get around.

But getting back to the beginning of this post for a bit — what if you could use this app in Driver’s Ed? Setting aside the cost of the handful of iPads you’d need to run a classroom of virtual drivers, this would be so much more interesting than the grainy footage, unresponsive driving simulator we all used not so long ago. You could essentially plug in the coordinates of the route you’d have to take on your driving test and run numerous practice runs in the classroom, sans intense, mustachioed instructors breathing down your neck. Sign me up!

READ  Keepsafe Browser - Everything you Need

Even if that fantasy is ultimately a ways away, apps like Bay Bridge Explorer point to so many out-of-the-box ways that apps aren’t being used yet. There might be an entire video tourism industry waiting to explode if someone would make the apps for it. But if not video tourism, think of the children who may have to learn to drive a fork-lift some day and won’t have a game to do it with.

Search for more

Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

    Home Apps Games