Penny's brother flew into National for a class today, and we went to pick him up. As is now common procedure, we went directly to the cell phone lot, parked, and waited to hear from him before approaching the terminal.
The cellphone lot idea has only been around a couple years, but was clearly a case of "Why didn't we think of that before?" Parking a few minutes away rather than circling saves gas and congestion, reduces stress and the number of accidents, and is generally a bloody brilliant idea that should have come into use several years before it did. The technology was there, but no one thought to apply it.
On our recent vacation to Ocean City, we visited the Indian River Lifesaving Station. So early in the season there is only one person working the desk, but you can still take an audio tour by using your phone. Call 302-286-5075. 12 tells you about the surf boat, 27 tells you about the wreck poll, and so on.
Every audio tour I'd ever been on involved the site maintaining a collection of handheld playback devices, with all of the expense and logistical issues you'd expect to go along with that infrastructure. Here, the equipment burden is passed to the visitor. This works because almost every party to visit is going to have at least one cell phone with them, as well as a minutes plan that will allow for listening to up to 20-30 minutes. The only cost to the facility is a couple phone lines and a single playback machine.
I'm a huge fan of expanding the use of existing technology in new ways.