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A Little Lost?

Get directions at your fingertips.

You're stuck on the freeway, and the only view ahead is a sea of bright-red brakelights. Should you take the next offramp or stick it out? Mapopolis.com's ClearRoute service might be able to beam turn-by-turn answers to your wireless Pocket PC.

Traffic flow and other real-time street data are being generated by cameras, in-road sensors and other sources in a growing number of locales, and uploaded by aggregators like Navigation Technologies and Traffic Cast. They combine this data with other information so companies like Mapopolis.com can broadcast detailed verbal and visual driving directions to your Pocket PC for $200 per year. You'll also need a $200 GPS transceiver, which Mapopolis.com can sell to you, as well as cell service from providers like AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS, T-Mobile or Verizon, which also sell wireless Pocket PC models. Other companies, like TrafficGauge (www.trafficgauge.com), sell directions-only handhelds for less but cover fewer areas.

ClearRoute service is available in the 100 busiest metro areas, says Mapopolis.com's vice president, Jeremy Straub, and will spread to other areas as real-time road data becomes available. Eventually, says Straub, directions will be beamed to GPS-equipped cell phones, too.

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This article was originally published in the October 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Little Lost?.

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