Although I'm an avid, some would say hopelessly addicted follower of cool new gadgets and technology services, I generally do keep my enthusiasm in check until said gadget and/or service is announced, available, and amply reviewed.
But in the case of a new, three-year stealth start-up called Dash, formerly known as CircumNav until today, I may have to make an exception.
As their press release announces today with a bit of fanfare:
"Dash Navigation Launches to Fundamentally Change Auto Navigation Experience with Backing from Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital."
SiliconBeat adds some flesh to the bones:
"A Mountain View start-up called Dash has raised $16 million from investors including two of Silicon Valley's highest profile venture firms to deliver the first automobile navigation device designed to be permanently linked to the Internet."
"The company has been working secretly for three years. Dash's device is significant because competing products already on the market do not have such always-on connections. Dash's global positioning system (GPS) device, which will be updated real-time via the Internet, can avoid the pitfalls caused by new roadways or housing complexes. It can also let you search for things like nearby restaurants, and reviews. It has all sort of other uses, for example helping find more detailed traffic information, the latest weather, and it can be detached so that it can be used at home or in other cars."
The product is designed to create a "mesh network" of other Dash users, relaying real-time info on traffic congestion to other Dash devices, and thus throughout the Dash network, as this Gizmodo post explains:
"What does the mesh do? Well, it will "supply traffic information, destinations, nearby service locations, and weather as well as 'all the kind of stuff you could imagine,' said Lego", the CEO of Dash.
If you're stuck in a traffic jam, your device will relay that information to the central Dash servers, which in turn will get propagated to anyone who's in the vicinity, prompting them to avoid your mistakes. Sounds like GPS done right."
Think of it as social networking for cars, or not, as Paul Kedrosky postulates.
Dash seems to have a broad and deep bench of folks from a variety of relevant disciplines and backgrounds. And obviously a great array of venture backers. Still, a lot needs to go right here, and there's much about this that we don't know.
The company is being coy about the full details until it officially unveils the product at the Demofall 2006 conference on September 25th.
I've been excited about the potential for a real-time traffic mesh network for a long time now, realizing that it was not a question of IF, but WHEN it would happen, given the various technology curves coming together.
In fact, one of the very first start-ups to collect and disseminate real-time traffic data, was formed as far back as 1972, about 34 years ago.
The entrepreneur in question was a teenager in the state of Washington, embarking on his first commercial venture.
So Dash is in good company. Hopefully, for the sake of the blue-chip investors, they can muster revenue higher than the $30,000 or so garnered by Traf-O-Data through it's brief history.
I know I'll be a contributing customer at the earliest opportunity.