Google Maps is indispensable for generating driving directions, and Street View lets you preview the destination with on-location photos. But wouldn’t it be awesome if the two were somehow combined, so that you could virtually test-drive a route and literally see how the drive would look as if you were behind the wheel, all from your browser? Peugeot has created an interactive experience that does just that, called “RCZ View” (a reference to the name of the sports car it’s promoting, natch).
The stop-motion driving videos are choppy, and sometimes unwatchably glitchy–a “drive” from my apartment over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan looked like it went through some sort of wormhole right around the famous Watchtower building–but you know what? It doesn’t matter, because even if the experience isn’t pixel-perfect, the concept (not to mention the creative programming) is undeniably smart. It’s even useful: I’m directing a low-budget car commercial next week involving live driving, and RCZ View lets me preview options I might want to shoot without leaving my office.
Yes, at the end of the day it’s still “just” an ad, not an app. But does the distinction really matter? Google has created its own Maps add-on that offers similar functionality, generating a 3-D-animated “helicopter view” of driving directions. But Peugeot’s mashup somehow feels more creative, more authentic: Its choppy stop-motion is conjured up out of view of real life on the ground, not some polygonal bird’s-eye view. For all its flaws, it has a human touch. And regardless of whether it’s an ad or an app, that’s what matters.