Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Memorial Weekend News Jam

Wow, busy day on the news cycle probably because of the long weekend ahead where everyone and their dogs will be heading somewhere and if you will be moving in a car or something else, GPS makers & services want to get a piece of your action. So let's break this down into some categories:

New Gadgets

Apple and Nike paired up to combine footwear and the iPod Nano on a sport action package. No GPS on this one, but they might add it sometime in the future. Go with the Garmin ForeRunner for that. For the Apple package you still need to wait a couple of months to put your hands on one. According to BusinessWeek:

"The iPod will also keep track of the duration, distance, and other information on each run. The data could then be uploaded to a Mac or PC, and from there to a Nike Web site called, where users can track progress, set goals, and share results"

Polaroid is coming up with an interesting gadget, the MGX-550 combines a GPS receiver, LCD touch screen and a DVD player that you can use to load and view maps or listen to music (through your FM radio) and watch movies. Not sure if I would need one of these but it is an interesting gadget from what used to be a photo camera manufacturer. But why not a GPS Camera instead? First seen at Digital Lifestyle.

CNet talks about a British research for a safer car that can make you slow down while on the road.

For a bigger adventure fly a Pixy Camera Plane equipped with GPS to take some cool pictures.

New Services

Rand McNally is launching MONA (Mobile Navigator) a turn-by-turn Java app for Motorola phones equipped with GPS receivers for US$9.99 a month.

Sprint is offering a kid locator service developed by WaveMarket which also offers other LBS products.

And LBS is going after the retail market thanks to the work of India-based companies like ActiveMedia.

Community ran an article on how GPS is being used to help blind people go about their lives navigating safely with help of digital maps and voice guidance. For product information check Sendero Group, Humanware and Freedom Scientific.

GPS also being used to track mosquitos in Ada County, Boise, Idaho which is concerned about controlling the expansion of West Nile virus.

Firefighters from Hershey, Lebanon County, Pensilvania want GPS to help pinpoint the location of fires and resources quickly.

Boy Scouts are getting free SkyScouts donated by Celestron to play with. SkyScout is a neat gadget equipped with GPS that tells you which star or celestial object you are pointing to. A mobile planetarium.

USGS and NOAA are celebrating the 50th aniversary of Geomagnetic Research monitoring in real-time Earth's magnetic field and running NOAA's GPS stations. All this is pretty crucial to GPS operation:
"This is especially true during so-called ‘magnetic storms’. Because the ionosphere is heated and distorted during storms, long-range radio communication, which relies on sub-ionospheric reflection, can be difficult or impossible and global-positioning systems (GPS), which relies on radio transmission through the ionosphere, can be degraded."

TeleAtlas expands presence in Mexico by acquiring map data for that region.

Inrix, a Microsoft spin-off wants to help you avoid traffic jams using Bayesian models:
"Inrix's proprietary Traffic Fusion Engine incorporates the power of advanced Bayesian analytics to combine GPS probe data with hundreds of other market-specific data sources enabling the most accurate real-time and predictive traffic information and broadest coverage available."
And Microsoft added live traffic information of selected regions to Windows Live Local.

Have a safe weekend!

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