Inrix, a startup in Kirkland, Wash., is rolling out a service called the Dust Network that predicts traffic flow a day to a year ahead of time, according to Business 2.0 Magazine
.The system uses a complex algorithm that factors in hundreds of data points, from a freeway's traffic history to scheduled events likely to impact traffic, such as local school half-days or major music performances or sporting events. Major portals, including Yahoo, are planning to integrate the Dust Network into their map services and BMW is set to offer it in upcoming models. Thilo Koslowski, an automotive analyst with Gartner Research, believes the growing number of GPS-equipped vehicles makes it easier to gather enough traffic data to enable longer-term predictions. The company that developed Inrix's technology is a Yahoo competitor, Microsoft. The Redmond giant spent four years and an estimated $20 million on the traffic prediction service. But rather than develop it commercially, Microsoft licensed it exclusively to Inrix. The deal was part of Microsoft's new strategy to spin off research in exchange for royalties or equity. Inrix pays Microsoft roughly 5 percent of sales.