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.