If you’ve ever driven an interstate in the United States, you’ve no doubt noticed the blue signs that list the restaurants, gas and lodging at each upcoming exit. They’re helpful, but they do little to tell you what’s at the exit after that or even further down the road. Roadside billboards help to some degree, but only for businesses who’ve been willing to pay for them â€” and it’s up to you to remember whether the McDonald’s is at exit 158 or 159 based on the sign you saw twenty miles back.
The folks behind many of those blue signs and billboards, Lamar Advertising, have come up with a better solution: a free, foursquare-powered iPhone app called Road Ninja that shows you exactly what you’ll find at each exit on your trip. They’ve also partnered with some of their business customers to offer specials to Road Ninja users.
There are two ways to use Road Ninja. You can browse near your current location if you’re stationary, but the more useful way is by browsing upcoming interstate exits. Tapping an upcoming exit shows you the restaurants, gas stations, hotels and attractions there based on a foursquare search of the area. You can add custom categories, too, if you’re looking for a pharmacy or craving sushi, for example. For many national brands, they’ve included the company logo to make them easy to spot.
If you’re looking for a specific restaurant, you can search for it by name and Road Ninja will search for it at upcoming exits making it easy to satisfy that special craving.
When you view a venue in Road Ninja, you’ll see recent tweets from the business, along with options to call the place, get directions or view it on a map. Tapping “reviews” brings in the foursquare tips and photos that have been left there. Road Ninja users can rate the venues and write their own reviews, too. Hidden there is an option to check in on foursquare when you post your review. Your comments and photos will be added as part of your checkin.
Lamar has added promotions from participating businesses that function much like foursquare specials. You show your phone to the cashier and get a 10% discount, a free sandwich or whatever the business is offering. I wasn’t able to find any promotions in my area, but you may have better luck in yours.
Road Ninja makes a really nice way to find places along your route, especially if you’re looking for something more than the typical McDonald’s or Wendy’s found at every exit. The promotions are an added bonus that cost conscious consumers will enjoy.
Give Road Ninja a try and let us know what you think in the comments.