Saturday, December 13, 2008

Avego -- Realtime ridesharing

Very cool use of the omnipresent cellphones and the new iPhone capabilities -- Avego is a way for people with cars to offer rides and for people needing rides to find cars going their way, and for people to connect "on the fly" without hassle.

I may even break down and get a cellphone (an iPhone, in fact) just so I can take advantage of this very cool idea and offer rides to others on those days when I have occasion to fire up the flivver ...

Check it out -- watch the video clip on the home page, and imagine how powerful this will become as the recession/depression continues and people increasingly need to conserve resources and to relearn the thrifty ways of the Great Depression, when ridesharing was assumed and hitchhikers were a common sight by the roads.

Note that you don't have to have an iPhone (or even a cellphone) to use Avego -- you can connect via your internet connection. Here's a snippet of an exchange I had with Sean O. of Avego:

My interest is in making it platform independent, so that any kind of cell phone or people without cell phones can use it from their home computer, or a computer at work, or even by a landline call, if that's possible.

Is that conceivable?
Sean replied:
Sure, we do that already

you only need the iPhone device if you are broadcasting your GPS location to other people. (ie., if you are a driver).

On other phones (for drivers), #1 (a lot of them don't have GPS), #2 (a lot of them use a much slower and more inaccurate version of GPS), #3 (a lot of them don't have unlimited data plans like the iPhone does, so people would be hesitant to use them as drivers, because it would be more expensive than the iPhone). So the iPhone is a pretty good platform for a lot of reasons.

Also, our protocol does work on any other phone/device. We have it working on 3 other devices in our labs other than the iPhone, already. Those will be coming out over time to support drivers having other options than just the iPhone, to make it, as you say, platform independent. But for riders, it already works that way (of course, since the iPhone client isn't available yet, you wouldn't be able to know that unless you'd used the system before... which only probably 100 people have, worldwide, so far... so, good question.
This has amazing potential in Salem and in the Pacific Northwest, where people are ahead of the US in terms of both technology awareness and also in environmental awareness. So go ahead and sign up, especially if you live in Salem, and start thinking about how we can make sure that any car trip is a full car trip. Because, like Bill Maher said (in his great book):

"When you ride alone,
you ride with Bin Ladin"

Salem Monthly Give Guide ends 12.31

There is still plenty of time to get your donation in to the large variety of nonprofit organizations featured in November's Salem Monthly (and to claim your tax deductions for itemizers, and the Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit for contributions to the Salem Rep).

Participating nonprofit organizations include:

The organizations that were selected work on relatively small to no budgets. Donations can be made at SELCO Credit Union or given via an online donation through the Give Guide website (which is provided by SELCO).

To make a donation or read more about each organization, visit the Give Guide online.

This drive ends December 31.