If technology solves nothing else, hopefully it will at least take care of traffic problems. That's the impetus behind Dash, started by a Stanford professor often stuck in bumper-to-bumper in Silicon Valley. The original idea is pretty sweet on its own: Where most current GPS systems simply provide your vehicle's location and a map of the roads around you, Dash Express is Internet-enabled - using a GPS radio, Wi-Fi radio and a cellular radio - so it collects real-time traffic data from other Dash users around you and from third-party sources, then calculates traffic delays and provides you with the quickest route to your destination.
But what's really revolutionary about this mobile technology is what happens when people use the device to conduct searches. The information that Dash has begun to collect puts Dash behind the wheel - it knows what users are looking for and when. The top national searches are gas, movie listings, Starbucks, Wi-Fi, Costco, pizza, sushi, Target and Home Depot. In California the winners are Starbucks, Costco, Wi-Fi, sushi, In-N-Out, Best Buy, pizza, coffee and Target. By compiling this data and examining where people are conducting searches, Dash can provide a bounty of information to corporations and marketers. The hyper-local Web has its keys in the ignition.Dash executive Mark Williamson demonstrated this point at a recent Web 2.0 conference. By pulling up search requests for Starbucks in Arkansas, Dash showed Starbucks exactly where it might put its next store based on where Dash users conducted searches for them. Howard Schultz's hands must be shaking already.