Thursday, February 23, 2006

Boston Walks: Flash on the PocketPC

Boston Walks was a project promoted last year by the Boston Cyberarts Festival and developed by Invisible Ideas. The project made use of PocketPC's equipped with GPS and walks developed by artists.

The PDA's were distributed among visitors for a "GPS-enabled artwalk through the Boston Public Garden and Common". A log map would keep track of the path taken by the PDA's. You can still check a demo of three walks to have an idea of their work.

The interesting aspect of this project is that it uses a lite version of Flash that is currently available for download after Adobe/Macromedia listened to customers complain.

This article describes how the application was developed in great detail using ActionScript and a C++ library to read one of the COM ports where the GPS receiver is connected on the PDA. You can also download a demo version of the Flash app for Windows or Macintosh.

There seems to be a FlashGPS C++ module around the Net but I could only find a PDF describing it. You can try using GPS libraries like those developed by Frason and Marshall Software or develop your own with the new GPS Intermediate Driver API included with Mobile Windows 5.

Another option on the Open Source front is RoadMap, which has builds of its GPS module available for the PocketPC (you can build ARM compatible binaries with GCC 3.x).

The use of Flash-based applications in mobile devices is growing pretty fast with the major carriers jumping aboard quickly to provide Flash players on their new phones.

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