Saturday, December 30, 2006

ENUM: Korea can't wait

This one is major. It involves translating or mapping current phone numbers to IP addresses. DNS is involved and a single point of access or address for individuals, business, locations.

And this is where eLocation as pointed out by ZDNet Asia comes in. The idea includes a centralized POI database. And by providing a common address format (you#here) (and unfortunatelly patenting it), you can search for that location in a map engine.

If you want a domain you can then buy a year use for about $30. Like a DNS entry.

To post addresses in the POI database would cost you the same, for each datapoint.

It relates to the IETF RFC3761 about ENUM. Or Telephone Number Mapping. There is a ENUM API draft.

You have the same number for a website, email, fax and mobile. This is major. And Korea can't wait to show its progress. ePosition is a map search that accepts parameters as Try this for the location of ZDNet offices in Seoul. But keep your virus protection on.

Here is the site for the Australian ENUM Trial. Here the US page.
Schedules point to commercial operation for mid-2007. More on ENUM Trials here.

If you can read Korean you are in luck. Otherwise try the non-image pages with Systran or Babelfish at Altavista, or Google that uses the same engine. Just remember to pick Korean to English. Results vary.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Closing (Year) News

.Bushnell maker of outdoor equipment including compasses entered the GPS market. Their Onix devices will allow use of georeferenced satellite and aerial photos on a dedicated handheld device.

Its B&W model can run on 2 AA for 26~39 hours according to their product description. Images can be layered with a compass, waypoints.

You can find the B&W model for about US$200. Four free downloads of satellite images when you register. It uses Sirf chipsets and stores up to 500 waypoints.

[Update Feb/07: Map data provided by Navteq.]

. GigaOm published a good summary of websites combining geotagging, maps and its growing use. Check the convenient links list at the bottom of the article.

. Somehow BW discovered Loki from Skyhook Wireless. Just be aware before you give it a spin that you might have a lot more work to remove it from your system than it deserves.

. If you only want to generate an NMEA log that keeps track of location without any navigation aid you might want to try the DG-100 from Globalsat (but it is not for sale just yet). GPSPassion published a review about its usage including software that let you draw your tracks in Google Maps.

. The GPS Wireless 2007 conference is scheduled for March 1st at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. From the Telematics Journal.

. RFID news from Japan via Engadget where Fujitsu combined both GPS and RFID in a single chip. Plus a 'Minority Report' type project with RFID used to help customers find their way in a shopping district.

. Meanwhile in Fresno, California police used GPS to track DUI convicts.

. According to The Register, TomTom seems to be winning the patent dispute initiated by Garmin. But this is probably not the end of it.

. And PCWorld goes over a pretty decent exercise of predicting trends in the mobile space. Besides more traking kids type phones you will conclude that the:

"[...] level of communication [by sending SMS to each other's smartphones] will increase even more."
And that:
"[...] with e-mail-capable smartphones now available for the masses [besides expensive Blackberries], the masses will start using mobile e-mail."

But to bet on phoneTV is still silly. Just watch (and interact with) a Wii instead.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Santa's GPS & Merry Xmas

Santa will use GPS this season once again now that his equipment got approval for another run. See the Ironton Online for details.

Gothamist found the Norad Santa's tracking, with maps.

David Pogue covers tracking offers specially those offered to parents. It includes products from "[...] five companies--Wherify Wireless, Guardian Angel Technology, Disney Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint". More on Blogue's page at the NYTimes.

And BBC sees mobile phones used to help finding restaurants and other services picking up as soon as next yeat at some markets.

Merry Xmas from Jeepx.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

MIT's iFind, Solar Flares

Senseable City Lab from the MIT brought up several projects that explore the real time traffic data from wireless communications to map "chat" activity in a city. Check iSpots, Graz and Real Time Roma as examples.

Now as part of the same Lab the MIT is making the source code of its iFind project available through GPL.

With iFind "you and your buddies can instantaneously exchange your locations on campus, talk to users nearby, and microcoordinate more effectively."

First on CNet. Covered also at WirelessIQ,

Solar Flares

And here is the reason why your GPS got a bit lost last week, according to this article from ABC:

"[...] communication with GPS navigation satellites in the lower ionosphere was blacked out for up to two hours."

The major activity happened around Dec 6th according to this article.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

USGS under wraps

Geographical research results from USGS (or the United States Geological Survey) can't be made freely available in US according to the latest rules from Washington.

Meanwhile as presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, GPS is helping the study of earthquake risk.

Friday, December 15, 2006

GPS Week News

▪ GpsPassion published a short review of the Asus R2H UMPC running MS AutoRoute and IGuidance.

▪ Going to India? Check MapmyIndia with an Ajax-based interface for map directions. From LBS Zone.

Fry's is offering the Helio Drift for $99 (stores only). And the Disney Mobile GPS Phone for about $50 with mail-in rebates.

▪ Luca Passani from OpenWave tells Sys-Con that JavaME won't fly, Flash Lite will and that LBS isn't going places. [I don't buy it. Flash is picking up. Opening up Java will help. There are more than a billion phones running it out there. Beat that. And LBS needs less hype and more partners to fly, like Real Estate for one.]

▪ Forbes says that 4 times more GPS units will be found under Xmas trees this season.

Suunto GPS watch now does GoogleEarth with its Track Exporter package. From Gizmondo.

▪ More GPS travel guides this time for the Virgin Islands. Check PR pointed by Engadget.

▪ Companies presenting at the CES 2007 in Las Vegas (January 8 to 11) putting out their PR's like Dash Express and this too good to be true device. Plus lots of other PND's.

Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado giving out Garmins for guests to do geocaching.

iPointer making the news once more.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Telefono: Matt's Stacking Fault

The Silicon Valley Homebrew Mobile Phone Club just had its December meeting with presentations from Trolltech GreenPhone, Java ME, or J2ME Open Source and ideas like (if I got it right) sending RTP and SIP over the same VOIP stream. Check the Club's Wiki for more.

Matt's Hamrick the MC also contributed for the TuxPhone project with his MIT fellows. Wired covered the club and its DIY phone project most recently here and a while ago here. CNet and TMCNet also covered them.

D-Link seems to be interested in the idea too.

Homebrew Mobile Club Meeting

Last night at the TechShop you could fell as if inside a mythical Silicon Valley Garage. The pure potential for creation, making it true, real. They even got a 3D printer. Yes, 3D.

Like Surj says at this page of

"In the same way ['you brew your own (ale)'], we are building our own phones because we want to support user experiences different than those offered by the traditional carriers. Having an open platform allows us to control what features are included in the device. We hope that over time our efforts will 'inform' product decisions at commercial carriers."
From the same site you can grab the PCB drawing, parts list and code to help you put together your own TuxPhone.

And as Jim from Techshop socratically exposes at this stage of our techno gold rush, the ones providing Levi's might eventually get it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Navigating with phones, Inside Gizmondo

BusinessWeek and GigaOm bring up the fact that using phones for navigation instead of dedicated PND's (Personal Navigation Devices) might get bigger than originally thought. You don't need map updates for one and it is easier to obtain traffic information for another.

Plus you can use it while using other transporation methods besides cars. For cars the idea is to listen to directions instead of looking at it, but if that is the case SmartPhones should provide a resolution and screen size that fits the bill.

And if you consider that you might pay about 10$ a month it is still cheaper than a dedicated device.

Electronic Engineering Times published a colletions of "teardown's" in Under The Hood including one of the defunct Gizmondo using "two-chip set from SiRF (#STGRF2i/LP and #GSP2e/LP)".

The same EETimes points out that Galileo is late.

Friday, December 08, 2006

More GPS Tours

The Economist published an article on GPS Tours, something that we covered a while ago. Plus the Paris Walks.

The article lists Tour Coupes in San Diego using IntelliTours, Europcar in South Africa and City Show in NYC.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

PSP does GPS plus News Links

Philips out of the GPS chipset business.
[Update: But NXT founded by Philips, isn't.]
NavTeq buys Map Network.
GPS in the farm. And here some software to go with it.
GPS used in Galapagos to study volcano formation.
SkyScout is a cool toy for Xmas.

PSP does GPS

You won't be able to buy it from LikSang,
but Play-Asia has it for $60 bucks (plus 9 for S&H).

More on Gizmodo.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Online Map Tragedy

This is a sad note.

As everyone, I was rooting for James to find his way back. And I didn't want to write about sadness. But of his effort, bravery and safe return.

Looking at a AAA map from the region I can see clearly that route 23 approaching the Rogue River is closed during winters. Was the map James looked at also warning about it?

It all started it seems, when James Kim a former editor at CNet put his trust in technology in the form of NavTeq provided directions through MapQuest (notice the "Avoid Seasonally-Closed Roads" box checked at the top right) using Bear Camp Road to reach Gold Beach in the Oregon coast.

No, no GPS on board. It was reported that a printout with directions was found in the car. That road as locals advise shouldn't be open during winter.

While trying to go back and taking a wrong turn into a fire road (BLM 34-8-36 initially reported to have a lock cut off by vandals sometime in November, was in fact left open for hunters) the Saab got stuck among bushes and snow and they couldn't move forward. Kim left his family to look for help after a week stranded.

The good piece of technology and engineering providence came from a brief signal from the Kim's cell that got picked up and traced to the location of their Saab. That saved Kim's daughters and wife. The Mercury News details the process.

An Oregon resident asked in the blog published by the Chronicle to have TeleAtlas and NavTeq modifying their map data to remove this road from their travel directions and avoid other tragedies to occur.

From the Chronicle:

"However, they missed the turnoff [to take state Highway 42 over to the coast], consulted a map and decided to drive the 55 miles down Interstate 5 to Grants Pass. There they turned onto Bear Camp Road, which is lightly traveled even in the summer and often is closed in the winter."

The keeper of the hotel Kim's family was planning to reach didn't recommend it.
"Terri Stone, an innkeeper at the Tu Tu Tun Lodge in Gold Beach, where the Kims were to have stayed the night of Nov. 25, said the Bear Camp Road is shown on some Internet road-direction sites as the best way to get to the coast from Grants Pass, but she advises against it. 'It looks like the shortest distance, but it is very, very treacherous,' she said."

The Chronicle put out a list of recommendations, among them:

"Just because MapQuest provides directions does not mean they are correct. Get independent verification of every destination and carry a detailed road map."

This is a sad tale. Our meditations and prayers go to Kim and his family. Go read Nevius' healing column on today's Chronicle.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

GPS Plays Football

. In Australia, introduced a product line composed of dedicated GPS receiver (SPI), analysis software, online exercise diary (PerfectSession) to track athlets performance (including acceleration and g-force).

Their equipment is being used by rugby and football teams (the real one). Mentioned at the Sydney Morning Herald.

. GPS used to match taxi drivers to customers released in China.

Blog Roll

I don't have a blog roll, yet.

But before that day I need to say thanks to both Daniel and Tim for their links.

Daniel or RevDanCatt pulls off a nice job at his GeoBloggers. I just found this article on GPS developments like Naggie and Navizon following a comment from a Guardian writer.

And here is a list (with what technically wouldn't be considered a real blog but) I would begin with this one if I had to put one up somewhere else on this page:

Good Blogging. Good Reading. Good Sharing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

LBS Developer Portal, AutoDesk Location Services

LBS 360.NET with ads from Microsoft MapPoint is a developer portal now open for business from the same group that gives you AllPoints Blog, Location Intelligence and Directions Magazine.

In fact, regarding developer news AutoDesk Location Services Developer Program gets a review from Directions Magazine.

Map Digs

National Geographic had an article on GeoRSS a while ago, a good read. Plus there are some good surprises at their online series: Digital Places.

As you probably know by now, Google Maps (and Earth) accepts coordinates in formats like:

37 57 11.98 N 121 05 15.76 W

There is now a dedicated Geographical Search Engine at Geody (thanks Stefan). A similar if not the same syntax can be applied with results that will give you a lot to look for in a clean interface.

Map24, Mapsolute, MapTP

I ran into Map24 a while ago and now again with the news that mobile support has been added .

"Map24 Mobile 2.0 [...] shows routes in North and South America, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand [and Europe]."

Try their Ajax interface by drawing rectangles over the US map. Neat.

New Map Provider?

Looking under the hood you discover that Mapsolute (signing side by side with NavTeq as a map data provider) has a role similar to deCarta in US, a German-based company that launched as a portal available now "with localized content for fourteen countries."

Its map data provider technology is called MapTP and it: "distributes vector maps through the net, sending them compressed and incrementally."

Poking on C++ coders: "animated zooms and pans in Java, even faster [than] C++ painters."

Map data is provided by TeleAtlas, NavTeq and AND (yes, AND maps).

API's are provided for Java and C++. ActiveX components will be replaced by .Net and web services "interfaced by XML, HTTP or PHP."

Looking through the source of their map browsing page you can find a mix of Ajax, PHP and JavaScript that might teach you some tricks. It even surprised me with the URL of the original
news article that took me into this track. Tricky.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More Augmented Reality

At the West Virginia University augmented reality is actually happening at their GeoVirtual Laboratory or GVL project.

From their research page:

"Imagine the ability to automatically receive information about nearby points of interest, immediately locate friends, get accurate directions, and create dynamic geo-referenced information around the world to share with others"
First on ZDNet.

NYT on Traffic, BW on Mobility

A good Traffic Updates 101 on the NY Times [closed article now] with mentions of real time traffic information providers as Inrix (owned by Microsoft), AirSage and IntelliOne. For more check the Navigation USA 2006 Conference happening this week in San Jose.

BusinessWeek talks about the several flavors of mobility currently available, including a passing mention of Loopt.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Garmin out, HP in plus Runner Tools

Garmin is killing its iQue line of PDA-based GPS receivers running Windows (keeping the iQue 3000, its Palm version seems like) by lack of customer interest according to The Inquirer and Brighthand.

But it has good news for BlueTooth phones that now can pair with Nuvi and StreetPilot (and Zumo) units for hands free phone calls.

Meanwhile HP is launching revamped versions of its PDA's as Media and GPS gadgets. From TechDigest.

From Reuters comes links to websites offered to runners to keep track of their exercise routines like MapMyRun, WalkJobRun including route info from the USA Track and Field website.

Nike + iPod: RFID on the run

This has nothing to do with GPS per se, but with tracking and privacy issues. A research group from the University of Washington figured out a way to obtain data transmitted by the iPod + Nike Sport Kit.

The group developed hardware and software capable of tracking a person using the kit and points out the risks involved with open broadcast of RFID-type signals. Encryption required as always but not used in this version of the product. Apple and Nike must listen to this and act.

First seen on MacDailyNews.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Google LBS, Free Maps?

CNet interviewed Deep Nishar, director of product management for Google about their strategy on LBS. This just after the launch of Drift by Helio.

This in the same week that the Gaia Project hits a wall inside Google ambitions where things aren't that free any longer.

Meanwhile in the U.K. O2 releases models like the HTC XDA Orbit with CoPilot software running Windows Mobile 5.0. First on TechDigest and NewsWireless.

Soon available: The "Wireless Wallet" from the San Jose Mercury News.

And Palm Treo 680 users can now use Telenav GPS Navigator.

Backseat Playground and Some News

. A working prototype for

"a game [...] that enables kids/big kids travelling in the back seat of cars to enjoy a rich gaming experience where narrative episodes and embedded gameplay combine[d] with the experience of traveling through the road network"
has been completed successfully according to the research website. GeoBloggers went through the work of putting it all together here. Also at NewScientist.

. The 15-sec delay of the British Train door opening at Victoria Station.

. BusinessWeek and CNet lists the GPS Gadgets for the Season,

. Some thoughts on Surveillance, Privacy, Tracking by the NewStandardNews,

. Technology Review talks about technology developed by Sarnoff that combines computer vision with missing GPS data in urban canyon and field for militar and civil use.

. Epson offering new A-GPS chipset for W-CDMA2 phones according to Irish Dev.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Xmas Spirit

Donate GPS units to Red Cross volunteers to help them find their way while attending emergencies at unknown territory. Neat idea?

It came from a young girl thinking about her Mom and co-workers. And she made it happen.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Everytrail: GPS tracks the trails

Got a .loc file around from your last hike? Want to share it plus some pics you took? Then be a nice soul and go to Everytrail to share and upload them. Obviously Google Maps and Google Earth are supported by their service.

Cool idea and implementation headed by Joost Schreve, Everytrail's CEO who gave an interview to Tech Digest.

Social Networks, Location Based IM

. Gizmodo is really enjoying the Helio they got over there. Check their review on Google Maps with Traffic info, the Buddy Beacon and Dodgeball.

. NewsFactor talks about Location based Chat/IM and mentions services like Meetro and RadiusIM that are leading the pack.

. BusinessWeek discovers "social networks" and maps out the technological fruits harvested from gadgets used by the Thumb Generation.

. The Twig from Benefon is making the news (this time at TechDigest) with its GPS phone and navigation software. Notice that the phone (and respective maps) is available currently only in UK, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain.

. Plus DirectionsMagazine summarizes where Location Services were headed to in 2006, including their coverage from the TeleAtlas Partners Conference.

GPS Walks in Paris and Other News

. Digi-Guide has 29 GPS based walking tours of Paris that you can buy and download to a PocketPC.

. GeoVector got the attention of Japanese investors and $12 mi (in New Zealand dollars, about 8 mi and change in US dollars) to play with. From Stuff.

. FRWD from Finland is tackling the sports-based GPS field by making their products available for the holiday season. Check a review at GPSPassion.

. Hitachi launched Entier, a relational database that runs on 300Kbytes of an embedded device [from EETimes].

. Scientists concerned that warm weather might affect GPS satellites orbits. Also covered by National Geographic.

. According to CBS News, mountain tiger roaming Santa Monica Mountains that was tracked by GPS got killed by other cats.

. Dr. Dobbs publishes an article titled "Testing GPS Functionality on GMS Mobile Devices".

The author works at Aeroflex, an US-based company that produces communication protocols simulators including the 6103 AIME that now supports Assisted-GPS with a "14 channel L1 C/A L2C [GPS Satellite] Constellation Simulator".

Lego Mindstorms NXT GPS Desert Ranger

The new line of Mindstorms, the NXT generation from Lego sunsets their interest with the previous product line but opens up possibilities like a GPS enabled Lego Jeep.

The NXT supports Bluetooth so it is possible to add GPS navigation to a project, plus a Compass Sensor can be used. This is the idea of this project.

[Update: a more sophisticated and complex project [pdf] can be found elsewhere combining Java, a JStamp controller, webservices and GPS.]

But it is just a teaser for now. If you figured out a way to use some language capable of handling ASCII strings from an actual GPS receiver (as Brian Davis suggests in one of the comments when he mentions RobotC.)

This FAQ about RobotC points out that support for BlueTooth "messaging for NXT to NXT communications is planned for release later this summer."

NXT uses LabView from National Instruments as its programming platform. A product that by itself might be worth the $250 price tag.

[Update: Still not there, but some more sensors and software support being made available.]
And at this time of the year, it might get hard to control the impulse buy from grown-up kids.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Case for an Open Carrier

Looking up SourceForge for GPS related Open Source projects I noticed the word Defunct at Alexander Pruss' QJAE-Dummy Library. The idea of his library was to be able to compile code using Qualcomm Java Extensions API made available to access among other things, the GPS receiver in standalone mode.

You don't need to hit the Position Determination Servers that Sprint owns. And if you do, they are owning someone else money for the traffic. It is a pure economic reason it seems. Fair.

And Sprint even suggests the other side of the house, Nextel and their GPS platform. The phones have real GPS chips and their servers don't mind providing some useful fix information. Blackberry users might have the same luck if corporate illumination prevails.

Open PDE Server

But what about running an Open Source PDE Server? And an open protocol, published and capable of implemenation on current devices. Too far fetched?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Midnight News

Three notes:

. Taipei Times talks about Parisians able now to find parking space through their GPS phones. Guess Taiwaneses can't find parking either.

. TomTom announced a free service called obviously enough QuickGPSFix for GO 910/710/510 users:

"to get an immediate connection between their device and a GPS satellite allowing their position to be "fixed" within seconds" Mobilised publishes.
The idea is to get ephemeris data in advance to speed up calculations. According to TomTom Support site:
"Using Quick GPS Fix , your GO downloads information about where the GPS satellites will be for the next 7 days."

. And Geek talks about Cingular providing now 3D maps through TeleNav GPS Navigator on the Nokia E62.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nokia Augmented Reality

Geobloggers and Technology Review covered MARA (Mobile Augmented Reality Applications).

The idea is to combine the hardware on the phone (GPS, compass, camera, accelerometer) with applications capable of providing geolinked data.

This is something that GeoVector has been doing in Japan for a while.

Check the videos of Nokia's Friend Finder at the project site.

First at GigaOm.

November News

▪ Project Gaiwain combines Galileo and GNSS on a single UMTS receiver. According to its webpage the main idea behind the project is:

"the development of an integrated GNSS/UMTS receiver, which provides seamless indoor/outdoor navigation and communication capability, using GPS/Galileo and 3G/UMTS for mass market applications."
Providing a more flexible hardware architecture to support the multitude of "mobile communication standards (UMTS WCDMA, CDMA 2000, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, IS 95 etc.)".

According to the article at ElectronicsWeekly the project has working prototypes on "intelligent transport and ubiquitous tourism".

▪ Map reader beats live GPS directions:
Interesting contest by the British magazine Which?

▪ E-Ten G500
: One more Linux based phone to hack.

▪ Car Insurance: "Pay As You Drive":
Article at VNUNet describes a GPS tracking based insurance offer from Norwich Union in UK with technology provided by TrafficMaster and Smart421.

Besides signing your life away, wonder if you can really trust their billing system something that the UK Transit agency according to the same article is still weary about doing so due to the high amount of errors in the current offers.

▪ Lockheed Martin
: According to this news:
"The aerospace engineering and mechanics department [of the University of Minnesota] recently received a $50,000 grant from Lockheed Martin to research small, unmanned vehicles that use the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, a GPS technology."
And the same Lockheed with Boeing and ITT launched GPS IIR-16/M3 [PRN15/SVN55, the 3rd replenishment modernized] satellite (photo US Air Force).

From UPI:
"Along with improved accuracy, the Block III design provides advanced security and anti-jamming capabilities that will ensure U.S. troops will have GPS service for navigation and precision-weapons in the heat of battle."
▪ Seeker Wireless

Seeker according to Geographically Challenged is coming out of stealth mode with improved location technology for GSM based phones. Check their SeekerZone product/service.

First at the TelematicsJournal

▪ Sprint and Microsoft collaborating

From WindowsForDevices

Sprint users will be able to "search, via Windows Live Search for Mobile, for location-based content from the Internet" and that "the service is immediately available at no additional cost to Sprint PCS Vision and Power Vision subscribers."

Also at the Unstrung.

▪ Planted News?

These bomb treats from geocaches come about like clockwork.
Keep up the fear factor? This time it shows up in Forbes (from AP) of all places...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

GPS saving the Amazon

I had no idea such a great work was being done to preserve the culture of Amazon Indian tribes.

Following its mission statement, ACT or Amazon Conservation Team "works in partnership with indigenous people in conserving biodiversity, health, and culture in tropical America."

Among ACT's projects you will find that GPS and Google Earth are being used to create maps of the reserves to help protect them from illegal mining (gold) and politicians eager for land.

Great example. Great work.

From Mongabay via /.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

GeoIQ: Future in Maps Now

GeoIQ deserves a post of its own.

From Gothamist.

Plumbing for GPS data

With one foot in a plumber shoe 509inc is providing server and client infrastructure by using HTTP as data protocol to broadcast GPS coordinates with location of Smartphones running Windows Mobile.

And talking about plumbing TerraTrace from Archetype sends GPS data over IP and describes itself:

"As a Cingular Global Enterprise Certified solution, TerraTrace sits directly on the wireless network backbone and has complete visibility and real-time access to all data going to and from our managed assets."
There is also the German-based GPSoverIP and OpenDMTP.

Social Networking: Broadcast your Location

Helio has its Buddy Beacon, DodgeBall (owned by Google) uses SMS and Loopt will be free this year for Nextel Boost users of true GPS phones from Motorola ($2.99 a month next year).

Broadcast your location to a group of friends and family and network. This is something that Mologogo has been doing for free since its beginnings.

According to the Chronicle, there is a major difference regarding privacy between Helio and Loopt services:

"Loopt users, who are being tracked at all times, have to turn off the system if they don't want to appear on their friends' maps. Buddy Beacon requires users to update their location every time they want to be seen by their friends."
[Update: Boost/Loopt started "Connected with the Dots", a new location-based game. If you live within 50 miles of New York City you can sign up. You will receive invitations with prize information and location. The first Boost/Loopt user to get there if eligible, wins.]

First on VentureBeat.

Hotel Coordinates

This one is from Leah Garchik's "Public eavesdropping" published at the Chronicle. Here a man on a cell by a State Park asks:

"What do you mean the hotel doesn't have GPS coordinates? What the hell am I supposed to tell my car?"

British Mashups, Tools & Sites

Something is up at the Island.

I posted about the beta program of Ordnance Survey regarding their new map data access JavaScript API. This is still a closed program it seems. After researching a bit OpenGeodata is a good place to start if you are looking for more on it.

CNet published an article on it pointing out Steve Coast and his work at OpenStreeMap (OSM). The idea is to collect enough GPS track logs to build maps of whole districts. And at the current pace it will build up pretty fast.

Another very interesting project is Mapstraction, a layer that makes access to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft map data API's transparent for your code. The work was supported by Nestoria, a very interesting Real State tool for the U.K. housemarket. Check this demo of Mapstraction in use.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Helio: Google Maps Mobile with GPS

This one shows at billboards along 6th Street in San Francisco. It did tickle my curiosity and here is the reason why. The Drift from Helio is the first phone that includes a free distribution of Google Maps Mobile with GPS support enabled.

Free for Helio users, a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) using Sprint, "a partnership between SK Telecom and Earthlink" according to MobileTracker.

So you will need to fork about $225 plus the $65 monthly fee for a free app. There is a model. And it targets a very specific demographics. According to InformationWeek's article:

"We're really looking at the social-networking crowd," Helio spokesman Rick Heineman said."
You will also get traffic reports, maps and directions plus the ability to broadcast your location to 25 other Helio subscribers.

Location-based ad's aren't part of the package, yet. At least on this side of the Pacific.

Engadget even bought a Drift just to check it out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

OpenMoko: Open GPS Phone

Inquirer has an article on OpenMoko, an Open Source Linux phone equipped with GPS. If your carrier doesn't include the app you want, just go grab it in the repository. It is based on OpenEmbedded sucessor of OpenZaurus, so you already got a bunch of apps to try and use.

It mentions "Globallocator GPS" which sounds almost like the right company name Globallocate which works on the Assisted-GPS type. You will depend on the carrier A-GPS server to get location data.

The Neo1973 phone will be manufactured by FIC (First International Computer) and according to the article from LinuxDevices below:

"The first 'pilot run' of 500 Neo1973s (FIC-GTA001s) will arrive in mid-December"
and it should be publicly available for $350 (US?) January 2007.

Here the full PR and check the official website for announcements and screenshots.

More on this article at LinuxDevices which includes a slide presentation by Sean Moss-Pultz, FIC's Product Development Manager.


Microsoft launched Virtual Earth with some noise pushing the envelope with full 3D views thanks to the newly acquired aerial photo business from Vexcel. Mercury News also lists the cities with coverage.

Navteq is buying for 179$ million in cash and stock.

TomTom lost the first round of its fight with Garmin in Europe:

"A District Court judge in The Hague, Netherlands, refused TomTom's request for a preliminary injunction blocking Garmin from selling six navigation devices".

Raytheon says that M-code signals are being picked up from the newest GPS satellite launched about a year ago. Those are militar level signals.
"M-code is a keystone of the advanced system. It is designed to be transmitted on both the satellite L1 and L2 bands and extends out to 24 Megahertz, compared to 20 MHz for the Y code."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ordnance Survey OpenSpace API

Great news on the other side of the Atlantic for Google Maps type mashups: Ordnance Survey, the British USGS (with some remarkable differences, like free access to map data) is making available (for a restricted number of beta users at this point) their OpenSpace API, according to

" will only be available for non-commercial use so that it doesn't compromise the OS' relationship with existing commercial partners, which pay for mapping information."
Some more info here. And Ed Parsons posted about it too. [Update: Also covered by National Geographic.]

And talking open maps, check MapGuide Open Source and OpenStreetMap API and its usage of TIGER data.

Little Brothers, Geotagging

Want to pay for something with you phone? Nokia is field testing its MasterCard based-service in Dallas.

Next step? You will start getting those location-based ad's on your cell. Welcome Little Brothers!

Meanwhile NYTimes is talking EXIF and Geotagging.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mobile GPS

According to the::unwired Orange is releasing clients for Webraska's framework in UK. Interesting numbers mentioned in the same page regarding use of smartphones for mixed transportation usage running navigation software like these:

"According to navigational analyst Canalys 'The mobile GPS navigation market is doubling year on year in EMEA. By the end of the year 14 million Sat Nav units will have been sold in the UK of which around 1 million will be on smartphone devices.'"
Nokia working with Primax and Windows CE integrators like E-ten are targetting the same market space. Plus BusinessWeek is pumping up NavTeq, but not much more than that.

Benefon's Twig & WinCE 6 Kernel Code

"[The Benefon Twig] also offers a series of location-based services that keep you in touch with other Twig owners. You can send your location to a friend with a Twig handset and it will navigate them back to you -- particularly useful if you don't know where you are."

It also offers a way for you to find friends carrying Twigs. Privacy concerns are also addressed. Still according to CNet's article:

"You can control who has the opportunity to stalk you."

It is in /. from CNet.

Slashdot also carries news about Windows CE 6 Source code (including Kernel) becoming available. Check WeDigIt for updates.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


A bit out of topic but let just say that I'm washing hands tonight:

Poor States of Brasil gave Lula another four years of resource sharing in the Presidency. Lula had the nerve to celebrate in Paulista Ave. The heart of Sao Paulo.

Don't take me wrong. But for a Paulista this is a slap in the face. We are all about real sharing but we are not stupid or blind or easy to fool.

So to watch a new mix of Fidel and Saddam Hussein celebrate his win in a State that could do a lot better without any of the others (this was a thought in 1932 that caused what is celebrated as "Revolucao Constituicionalista") is a bit much.

Look at the numbers and see clearly where are the States that serve the Federal Union and how they voted for Social Democrat Geraldo Alckmin, and those who feed from it voted Lula. It is easy to see which States carry the Union on their backs.

Minas Gerais being the only exception on this rule, and the one State that could have made a difference. Acre was a close call and Rio is a lost case. Cariocas have to go where Globo tells them to. It is the current fad. (Who knows what troubles Getulio and Dom Pedro might still be causing to that City.)

And Globo is the one TV channel that drives Brazilians in wherever direction powerful hands want them to go. This wouldn't be their first time on this business. Globo is the only staying power.

For the first time since I could cast a vote I didn't. (BTW, in Brasil you have to vote, no choice.) Could I have changed anything?

Lula has PCC, Globo and the poor on his side. What else does he want?

Save the poor? Oh, yes give them fish. No way to catch them. Keep them leashed.

Poor is being kept poor for a reason. Lula is only keeping alive the long tradition of Coronels. What about education?

Even if that's all that is said to be happening. It is only a front for more corruption. How much of the Federal money is really trickling down to those asking hands?

In a country in dire need of individuation, to use the ignorance of the masses for its own benefit is a lot worse than being dirt.

But won't be far fetched to imagine militares and students changing the country before an impossible civil war ensues. I wonder what Paulo Francis would see coming.

Lula divides Brazil in winning poor States and losing rich States. Feed the hunger of your poor. But don't give them a way to make a living. Now lets watch the MST and the PCC throwing their parties. And see who will foot the bill.

When would I ever imagine that a 1964 in 2007 wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fair enough: News

The new P903i from Panasonic offer some interesting new features now available to NTTDoCoMo subscribers. This article from AP, mentions that if lost "the user can track it with its onboard GPS. After entering the phone number into a Web site, the owner will see a map showing the phone's rough location". It also seems to only work for its owner plus other security features.

Spot from Skylab [Mobilesystems Ltd.] is now available for Blackberries. In fact more than those. Also smartphones and all. I tried Spot on the little i415 and PPC. The PPC version didn't quite made it, gets no GPS support or it would become freebie.

If you got a Bluetooth GPS receiver around might be worth to invest some time on their products.

Also, iST Inteliggent Spatial is trying to grab someone's attention and interess on their work producing LBS Frameworks, among other deliverables. If you got the money, they deserve your time too. Check their "iPointer™ Campus tour at the University of Maine in Orono".

Taiwan is looking past Sirf chipsets for (cheap) mainstream models production. Time for the second place to show up. [Update: Looks like u-blox is taking it.]

Sony came up with "gesture commands" on the UV-N51. By crossing the screen with your finger you can get directions to home or closest POI from an available (user defined) list. First at TrustedReviews.

And call for papers for the GPS World Conference programmed for June 11-13, 2007 in Rosemont, Illinois. Deadline for submission: Dec 6th.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Take News

Not many if you don't mind skipping gadgetry. For that there are plenty out there, sorry.

Some of note: F-1 competition, something that US doesn't have much of a clue about what it stands for, approved use of GPS for 2007. Indy already uses it.

The other is starting to make into the consumer space, use of GPS in farms. Probably its best real need.

And ViewRanger made the news in Britain by winning Nokia's LBS Challange. Ordnance Survey maps.

TomTom is suing Garmin in Europe to get things in a level ground, or just take it to the ground. Whichever comes first.

There are a couple of notes on GPS stolen. Fancy, expensive and visible gadgets. Need to be in the dashboard in those areas it seems.

And talking about farming, don't take your Garmin as a necklace with logging on if you don't want people to know your whereabouts.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mapping the Vote, Sensor Web

October issue of GeoWorld (also available online) points out tools from websites like FairData that can help visualize where are those votes that can make a difference in Nov 7th.

The same issue covers the work of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) with the Sensor Web Enablement specification. From the project page:

"Developers will use these specifications in creating applications, platforms, and products involving Web-connected devices such as flood gauges, air pollution monitors, stress gauges on bridges, mobile heart monitors, Webcams, and robots as well as space and airborne earth imaging devices."
Check for actual examples at this thread in the Google Earth Community.

In fact, if you are looking for an open spec check the article on GML (Geography Markup Language).

Monday, October 16, 2006

News Backlog

Business Week published a report on Location based technologies which translates mostly into how RFID is being used with one section on tracking truck cargo and another pointing out that Europe is ahead of the game.

Anick Jesdanun from AP reported on sport gadgets by comparing Timex BodyLink, Garmin ForeRunner 305 and the GPS-less Nike/iPod bundle. Anick liked Timex better.

EETimes has been talking about GPS integration for GSM phones recently including mentions of NXP Semiconductors (Philips), Sirf, Zoran's Approach 5C and TruePosition.

Rand McNally is remaking itself while celebrating 150 years with its own GPS Navigator device plus new online offers for teachers among its new products.

MIT's TechReview had an article on GPS for small planes after the recent accident in Manhattan. FAA has a working standard proposal

"[...] called Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) that would allow the GPS data to be broadcast and received by air-traffic controllers."
Comments pointed out that implementation might take longer than the author seems to indicate. Check the FAA ADS-B website for more.

Trying to get your J2ME app to compile in the Sprint SDK without the required GPS classes? Alexander Pruss put together a set of dummy classes that you can use now to get past that. But you'll still need to hit their PDE servers to get position data.

If you want to use a Palm Treo for tracking check this implementation suggested at the OpenDMTP website.

Engadget published a while ago a good recipe on how to make your own annotated multimedia Google Map with GPS data.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Roger Waters: Don't Waste Two Years

Proposition J [pdf]
Show Review, but read "A Saucerful Of Secrets' instead.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Georgia Tech SWAN

What if you want to find your way inside a building where resolution requirements are higher than those provided with GPS today? Georgia Tech has a good answer for that with SWAN.

AP is running a story on it:

"Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are trying to pick up where GPS leaves off. Its System for Wearable Audio Navigation, or SWAN, consists of a wearable computer connected to a headband packed with sensors that help sight-impaired users know where they are and how to get where they're going."
Here is the Georgia Tech research site.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

iPod Phone with GPS

PC Magazine has a pretty interesting article on Apple, iPod phone (GPS being added?), HSDPA and T-Mobile.

The article hints that "T-Mobile, [and] not Cingular, will host Apple's much-rumored iPhone project."

First on T3, MobileGadgetNews

Real Estate gets LBS and more on satellite imagery can now show in metropolitan areas around the country the average market price of a house. Or you can check through your cell phone using SmarterAgent software.

Real Estate are the first to make use of LBS into their portfolio.

In a similar vein but with a lot more possibilities of data mashups is Neighboroo.

Earth Pics

Newsweek puts in perspective the digital imagery provider/consumer story. And look closely where it says that Microsoft bought Vexcel, maker of "top-of-the-line, 500-pound digital cameras used by aerial mappers".

BTW, what exactly is Microsoft business? In fact, it seems directed after Google, Vexcel has besides the cameras, 3D modeling software as SketchUp.

Across town A9 it seems is out of the blockview market, they closed shop. Not their business.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

LBS week wrap-up

deCarta's developers conference was a great way to learn about the mapping ecosystem.

So not to repeat it all, take in short form that if your business plan needs money to implement a project that for its survival depends on phone carries, rethink your plan.

Or better, just really scrap it. If carriers have a say in it at all.

Just forget them. They decided to lock their platform to exclusive partnerships closing it to most inovattive business. Need argument? When will they let mobile games happen? What about location-based games?

But if you really want to try, it seems that Networks in Motion and their NavBuilder development platform found a way in (at least through Verizon).

Tellus got lucky with their J2ME implementation turned in VZ Navigator.

You can try your luck with TeleAtlas LBS Innovators Series backed by DowJones Wireless Ventures.

Carriers Lock-in

This blog has been pointing out about API restrictions for a while now.

Carrier should learn to be flexible through the fate of those companies that decided to stop at the middle of the innovation road. Phone carriers should realize the true meaning of the growing level of VOIP adoption.

For example, Sprint could start by making the Blackberry 7520 and others that includes GPS and can run Java and its Location API an open platform for developers. Why not give it a try?

As I already mentioned VC's also say that LBS should be integrated as part of something else, a feature. Not an application per se.

Free Content?

On the major event play watch out for Google and Microsoft as obvious as that may sound. In their current fight for digital imagery content where Microsoft (and it seems Google too) have exclusive rights over satellite content from DigitalGlobe.

GeoEye seems to be the place to go look for satellite imagery.

By exclusive I mean this contract doesn't allow free distribution through channels or anyone else that might try to access it for free. Only business, or paid consumers can have access to the content.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

deCarta Conference drilling down

Jeepx will be covering the deCarta Developers Conference being realized at Mission Bay UCSF Life Services Conference Center at China Basin. Along the way you can see that the huge SBC Park parking lot is now being converted into housing, streets and new development.

A dog friendly park now follows the channel flowing below the old metal bridge at 4th St. You can get there through Muni or try a ride on the UCSF color coded shuttles. Or walk from the Caltrain Station at 4th Street.

Last Conference deCarta (then still using the Telcontar name) took everyone to SBC Park on a baseball theme. This year we had the Exploratorium to play with and an opportunity to hear the MythBusters live. They even shared a non exhibited part episode on "Do Girls Pass Gas?". Well, maybe not totally correct, but well.

Killer LBS App

Anyway, on a more serious take the 250 attendees heard more than once that LBS is here but with a twist: nobody really wants an LBS app, but some app with LBS integrated to it. More on this in future posts.

Today on a panel driven by John Giudice from TeleAtlas you could hear so far the best direction to where LBS apps can go to help everyone and take off. Among the panelists was Craig Lauer, VP of Engineering at Qualcomm's fleet tracking unit.

In a straightforward approach he suggests to follow the collaboration sharing space and from POI data to life patterns have a way to store historic data about recommended venues.

In practice and in Craig's words: "We need to get rid of the clutter".

Craig continues somehow like this: "Let's say you are at a bus stop and by pushing a button ( in whatever generic device you carry/own/evangelize) you start a geospatial search where based on the historical patterns from the last 12 people doing the same route you get back a result something like this:

"The next bus will arrive in 20 minutes but if you walk down the block you will find a cool movie theater showing good stuff."

Casting, Counting Votes

Based on the same concept inaugurated by Google in using links of popularity a contextual analysis of the real-world can be performed.

Today local searches involve selecting among layers of categories which is just too much. As Craig puts it so plainly: "Let's keep it simple, people already voted about what they do and even wrote about it."

So why not continue casting votes and counting them doing something which is already working like Wikepedia and write, review, edit, put this data out there in an documented and shared format and through an open data access api, let everyone collect, organize and share this material?

How does anyone makes money? Well, you package it in whatever color someone is willing to pay for.

Remember HereCast? Their point is about using position to drop a virtual note on a real building. Maybe it is time to leave the virtual note around here, and figure out a way to find it when you get real at the building.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dumont 1907

Brasil had firsts taken away from its proud self-steem several times, but none hurts more than the one Santos Dumont accomplished in 1907, coincidentally the same number of the Gol Flight where a Boing 737-800 got hit by ironically a Brazilian made plane piloted by a north american.

Too much irony and pain for a country that still can, come first.

Trimble Licences GPS Technology

Nokia announced an agreement with Trimble on patents. According to some this should help Nokia leverage negotiations on another set of licenses (from Qualcomm) expiring in 2007.

Trimble patents relate to location-based technology and Assisted GPS on WCDMA and GSM.

Thing is A-GPS techologies (and possibly patents) on CDMA are quite a different type of beast than those required by unsynchronized networks as GSM and W-CDMA.

The leverage it seems might then happen when Nokia starts licensing the technology (allowed per Trimble's agreement) to other, non-CDMA vendors.

AllSport GPS

Down to consumer level products, Trimble announced AllSports GPS a while ago.

The software runs on a range of true GPS and A-GPS models from Nextel (including Boost), Sprint and SouthernLINC.

The idea is to use Trimble Outdoors website and the software on the phone to "measure distance, time, speed, and calories", and then create routes with speed and elevation profile. You can keep workout data on the phone itself.

AllSports GPS works also with MotionBased sports training website.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

FutureLab, Celestron, TeleAtlas

FutureLab is a non-profit that is making available for schools Create-A-Scape. The package, based on original work developed by a research arm from HP in Bristol, UK enables students to produce "mediascapes".

Or narratives with images, sound and GPS data. The whole package includes the necessary software and hardware. From ElectronicsWeek.

Celestron announced a new series of telescopes with GPS technology.

"The CPC Series' internal GPS receiver automatically downloads the date and time from orbiting satellites and pinpoints its exact location on Earth."

TeleAtlas will be providing map data to Nokia according to article from InformationWeek. Check the video at the bottom of the page showing how TeleAtlas produces map data with its mobile mappers. Nice PR.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

News Bag

Gothamist attacks again: Flickr based images of New York City maps in great pieces of work.

GPS as bait: it might work, or not.

Some more on the newest GPS satellite in orbit.

And be prepared:

Solar flares will probably get you lost if you haven't found yourself till then...

HSDPA & Nokia N95

A-GPS or true GPS right now seems almost a moot point. But transfer speeds to enable fast map data, tracking & so on fits well. So today ALK the maker of CoPilot software has its Managing Director, Michael Kornhauser given an interview that help put things into perspective.

HSDPA is the keyword here. Which translates to High-Speed Downlink Packet Access.

It seems that EV-DO is being pushed harder in U.S. (Qualcomm developed) but worldwide deployment of HSDPA is far ahead. The idea to push for some other protocol only helps keep companies like Nokia out of the U.S. market.

Things do sound as targetting Europe and that's fine because they are way ahead in consumer awareness. But it is surprising to see the amount of devices supported. Specially those currently targetting the american consumer.

On a side note, demos and trial versions would be nice to have.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

N95 & Indy

Nokia launched something that is worth giving a note about: the newest member of their NSeries, the N95.

[Update: This BW article says that Nokia will use a GPS "transceiver" chip from Texas Instruments. In that case, it will depend on PDE server backhome.]

It says "integrated GPS" but nowhere to be seen the chip that makes that happen. So I'm guessing it uses Assisted GPS for now. It would be their first model with true GPS.

The good thing is that you get the maps acquired through the acquisition of gate5.

In another news, GPS World pointed to Indy pilots sharing their cars position, velocity and other stats while in the race through GPS with technology developed by the Canadian RaceF/X.