TLP: "Turn Left at Banana Republic, Enter Victoria's Secret"
As if people texting and walking weren't annoying enough on the sidewalk. Now, shoppers in malls all over the country will be bumping into each other trying to find their way around.
Mobile phone maps have guided people through streets and alleys around the globe. But when those people step into a sprawling building, they can get lost.Shaking it to find the restroom? Might be better to wait til you're inside and about to zip up before you shake it. Just a thought.
Inside, people have to ask strangers for directions or search for a directory or wall map. A number of start-up companies are charting the interiors of shopping malls, convention centers and airports to keep mobile phone users from getting lost as they walk from the food court to the restroom. Some of their maps might even be able to locate cans of sardines in a sprawling grocery store.
“It was my wife’s idea — she was six months’ pregnant and she couldn’t find a restroom,” said Sam G. Feuer, chief executive of MindSmack, the New York company behind FastMall, one of the indoor mapping services. “It’s the same thing for people in wheelchairs or with strollers who need an elevator.”
Users see a floor plan of a shopping mall, for example, with stores indicated by name. Escalators, exits, restrooms and elevators are also marked.
FastMall has a search engine to help users find stores on its maps. Enter “Banana Republic” and the service places a pin on the map to show the store’s location. Tap the “take me there” button and the service plots a route to the destination. To find the nearest restroom, all users have to do is shake their phone.
Maybe this is a good idea. It certainly makes sense to use a GPS to get to the mall. But at some point, you kind of have to rely on yourself. What's next? Geo-mapping the Gap so shoppers can get to the skinny jeans and don't wind up lost in the pocket-tshirts?
Oh well, could be a fad. If you've got some available investment cash, now might be the time to get in. If you can find your way to the ATM without help.