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Inrix sees the future of traffic prediction

Traffic prediction no longer dependent on proximity to a major city. Inrix uses real-time and historical data to determine the future flow of traffic.

Former Microsoft spin-off Inrix on Tuesday will launch a new, nationwide traffic-prediction platform.

A new routing service combined with traffic data available for more than 800,000 miles of U.S. roads and location-based information is all part of the Connected Services platform Inrix hopes Web and mobile application developers, gadget makers, and car companies will be driven to adopt.

Inrix CEO Bryan Mistele says he thinks the new platform will lower the barrier to entry for developers and device makers.

"By wrapping it all together, this can do for telematics and navigation what YouTube did for video," he said in an interview.

One of the keys to the accuracy of the service is the predictive ability. Inrix uses historical traffic data, real-time road conditions--gathered from more than 750,000 devices used in cabs, commercial vehicles, and some GPS-enabled consumer cell phones--as well as local information like weather, school schedules, concerts, and sporting events--essentially anything that will cause delays. (Interestingly, Mistele says school schedules are one of the biggest variables of traffic in most major markets.)

Inrix traffic routing
Example of Inrix's 3rd Generation Routing Service. Inrix

The routing service also gets a bit fancier by using more than just posted speed limits, which as Mistele points out, not many adhere to, either by choice (speeding) or not (traffic). Inrix's Third Generation Routing Service provides traffic and info on best route and how long it will take you to get there.

None of this is available directly to consumers, but it should make it a lot easier to get more inexpensive and full-featured personal navigation and GPS devices.