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Submitted: May 1st, 2008

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Full details

Designer
Phil Ohme

Category
Professional

Inspiration
Designed by... Phil Ohme


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1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (150 votes, average: 3.61 out of 5)
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The user

The business professional who is on the go. In the US businesses must keep a log of all miles driven for business purposes. Many businesses find it hard to keep up with this and when it comes to tax time they must guess or fudge the numbers. Other countries have similar needs to track distances for work. Secondarily it could be used for personal/fun.

The problem is that small business owners and others need to log all of their business miles for tax deductions and employees/owners frequently forget to write down any business miles. Even if a log book exists it is frequently forgotten and trip mileage is forgotten or fabricated/ guestimated. This is especially difficult for small businesses where employees use their personal vehicle for both business and personal driving (only the business miles can be claimed on the tax returns in the US).

The experience

The solution is an easily implementable application that could run natively or through the phone browser. The solution would use available technology to measure distance at all times and chunk it up into trips. When requested by the user, the distanced is recorded separately for use in logging. The application could run on a GPS navigation system, or ideally – any mobile phone. The main control is a simple ON / OFF to activate the logging function.

In the simple function use case, the user clicks the button associated with ON when they enter the car for a business trip. The app makes note of the date,time, and location. When the user arrives at the destination, they click the button associated with OFF. Now that this single business trip is complete, the app makes note of the end location and computes the distance between the start and end. This distance is entered in the system for this user, saved for use later.

The distance information could be found in several ways:
1. By the GPS in any GPS-equipped phone or navigation system
2. By noting the nearest cell phone tower in the network, for an estimation of the start and end points (within a small but acceptable window of error). This is available for any non-GPS-equipped phone.
3. By prompting the user for the ZIP code of the start and end location, at the respective time
4. By prompting the user for total distance driven at the end of the trip.

In the advanced form, the app could also account for a common problem with log books and one that is also possible with the simple app: Forgetting to turn on the app, thereby losing the starting location information. The advanced mode gives the user an option to click a button associated with RETRACK CURRENT TRIP. The app would then look back to the last time that the cell phone (or other device) was stationary for 1 hour. It would then capture that point as the start location and put the app in the simple mode, waiting for the user to click OFF/END TRIP.

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16 Responses to “MoDist – a MObile DISTance tracker”

  1. Very cool idea. I could certainly use it for my business!

  2. Christian says:

    I would add a feature that allows the user to put in historical trips (the one hour feature may not be enough to capture everything). The user could put in the date, starting and destination address, etc. for any trip taken.

  3. Jennifer Kopp says:

    I see that being a great benefit to a lot of professionals (telecommuters especially!)

  4. Pamela Wick says:

    Being a business owner myself, this is something I could use! Great idea Phil.

  5. Anthony Outland says:

    Great Idea, I could have used this prior to tax season.

  6. Sara says:

    Awesome Idea..I need one, STAT!

  7. Terra says:

    Great idea! This is a very straightforward solution for creating a logbook for business miles! Is there an exportable file that can be downloaded and printed under the “view log” feature? That way, people can download their miles into an MS Excel file or PDF file, to retain and submit for tax purposes. Looks great!

  8. Stephen says:

    Wow, this is a great idea. No more pencil and paper in the car, or “Oh shoot, the log book is in the other truck” and trying to keep track of scrap pieces of paper. I like it!

  9. Anthony says:

    Phil Ohme continues to push the technological envelope in addressing the needs of small businesses in America. It is only a matter of time before his insight is recognized for what it is.

  10. Dan Backman says:

    Where can I get one?

  11. Liza says:

    Very cool idea….one I could definitely use to track business mileage. Anyone who’s had to track and log miles knows what a pain it is….this would simplify!

  12. Roxi Leeder says:

    You Go Phil!
    Great Job!!!

  13. Lauren Siegel says:

    Great design! When will this be available?

  14. Melissa says:

    The one thing missing in all my driving around and trying to keep track of it all! Great idea and looking forward to seeing it on the market!

  15. Gia says:

    ***** An elegantly simple solution to a gnarly problem.

  16. Dave H says:

    Great, idea! There is a big need for this out there.

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