All the major map apps like Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Mapquest have walking directions as a standard feature, but the folks at Lumatic don’t think they are good enough. It is creating mobile maps designed for pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use public transit. Originally a TechStars company called Omniar, serial entrepreneur Scott Rafer (MyBlogLog, Lookery, Mashery) joined as CEO a year ago.
He recently raised a seed round of $800,000 from Joi Ito’s Neoteny Labs, 500 Startups, Chamath Palihapitiya, Allen Morgan, Ted Rheingold, and other angels.
Lumatic has an Android app which works right now only in San Francisco. When it gives you directions, it chooses routes which are optimal for walking, cycling or public transport. As you walk through the streets, the app displays a street-view with photos and arrows pointing in the right direction.
The app is built on top of Open Street Map , but the user experience is centered heavily on using photography, landmarks, and visual cues to help people navigate cities. Fighting Google Maps in this category is going to be a tough slog, but if the app can gain a following there plenty of money in local commerce and advertising to make it a worthwhile pursuit.