It’s happened to Hannah Horvath on Girls, and maybe it’s even happened to you. You grab a seat on the New York subway, let your eyes flutter shut, and when you open them again, you’re in Coney Island. Or the edge of the Bronx. Or somewhere else very far away from where you were supposed to end up.
At last, there’s an app to fix this problem. MetroNap — currently available for Android only — will wake you up just before your stop. Here’s how it works: you type in your subway line, your starting point and your destination. The app detects the motion of the train and will vibrate just before you arrive at your designated station.
Developer Tobias Domhan told New York magazine that he came up with the idea after his girlfriend dozed off on a train and “ended up where she didn’t plan to go.” The 25-year-old German computer science student had done some work using the accelerometer in smartphones, and realized that the technology could be a good alternative to GPS, which doesn’t work underground.
A great idea in theory, but as Gothamist notes, there could be some issues here. For starters, dozing off on the subway is often unplanned. You think you’re strong enough to stay awake, but then the motion of the train just kind of lulls you into a light slumber. “The other instance is drunkenness,” Gothamist points out, “and no meek little phone vibration is powerful enough to interrupt Booze Slumber.”
And if you’re planning a nice subway nap, you’ll probably want to keep your phone out of reach of thieves who no doubt prey upon snoozing passengers. And then you might miss the vibration. But as long as you’re aware of the caveats, the app is worth a shot. Watch a promo video here: