Destinations Asia

Google Maps takes Smile Trekker 5,000 miles through Southeast Asia

@denschaal

Nov 22, 2012 11:48 am

Skift Take

Kudos to U.S. Marine Sgt. Winston Fiore for his humanity, and some advice for Google — a little humility would be wise.

— Dennis Schaal

Free Report: The State of Student Travel


To say the U.S. Marine Sgt. Winston Fiore got a lift out of Google Maps — and his Android smartphone — is an understatement.

As detailed by Google’s Official Blog, Google Maps guided Fiore on his 5,000-mile, 408-day walkabout through Brunei, China, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, as he raised nearly $66,000 to benefit the International Children’s Surgical Foundation. The organization provides free facial reconstruction for kids to heal their cleft palates, and Fiore dubbed his expedition Smile Trek.

Fiore “used Google Maps to find accurate and easy-to-use walking directions everywhere he went, whether it was through remote villages and farms, down tiny dirt roads, or across rice paddies and desolate sugar cane fields,” writes Jennifer Chen, product manager for Google Maps.

Smiles for the Google marketing machine

Fiore’s trek is a wonderful testimony to human endurance and benevolence, but Google goes a bit over the top in its public relations efforts.

For example, Google’s storyline is that you can basically travel the world, regardless of the conditions you might face, going from place to place with the aid of omnipresent Google products.

As Google describes it, Fiore “used Google Latitude to keep his family, friends and supporters informed of his whereabouts, and MyTracks to record his speed, distance and the places he visited. He also used Google Translate to communicate with locals, and in one case found it essential: when bit by a stray dog outside of Bangkok, he typed “I got bit by a dog, can someone take me to a hospital?” into his app. A taxi driver took him to the hospital, where he got 11 shots!”

And, in this video that Google posted about Fiore’s 5,000-mile sojourn, he hardly breaks a sweat, and his white T-shirt never gets mussed. Google Maps is obviously neat.

With a Google Maps app for iOS reportedly close to being ready for submission to Apple, Google Maps and other Google products will likely be closing in on their quest for world domination.

 

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