There’s two kinds of people in this world: Those that can sleep on buses, trains and planes, and those who can’t. If you are the former, you’re welcome — TravAlert is an GPS enabled iPhone, Blackberry and Android app that allows you to get your precious ZZZs (or read a book, or listen to music) while you travel, without having to worry about whether you’ll miss your stop.
Creator Frank Gu came up with the idea after painfully and repeatedly missing his stop on his bus commute, “It’s a huge pain to get off, reverse your route and go back to your stop, a few times it was the last bus of the day resulting in some very ‘interesting’ situations.”
TravAlert works by sending out a GPS ping every X number of seconds to figure out your location relative to your destination. Sleepy travelers can enter whether they’re on a bus or a train and their destination into the app, setting the alert for either minutes or miles away. You can also adjust the alarm’s sound, make it vibrate or even select a song from your phone’s song library.
In order to save phone battery life (the app obviously doesn’t work if your phone is dead), Gu has created an optimized algorithm to GPS ping efficiently depending on where you are in the travelling process. If you’re at the beginning of your trip the app pings slowly like every sixty seconds and but as you get closer to your stop TravAlert speeds its pings up to about ten/twenty or so. The app also speeds up after you go under bridges and tunnels in case you lose signal.
In case you travel on things other than buses and trains, Gu also has plans to create functionalities for air travel (with airport maps instead of an actual alarm) and for automobile travel, which lets users figure out if destinations like a McDonalds or an outlet mall are “on the way,” using a custom radius “bubble” of two miles.
“How many times are you going from A to B (say a roadtrip) and are craving a certain thing (certain fast food chain, gas station, etc), but not enough to drop everything you’re doing to pursue it?,” says Gu. I think he’s definitely on to something.