Tuesday, August 29, 2006

GeoTagging: Image + GPS Data

Back from Tuolomne along Hwy 120 you start to mess again with the EXIF 2.2 standard spec to understand a bit better the metadata that viewers like Exif Reader, Exif Tool, FastStone give us.

EXIF (Exchangeable image file format for digital still cameras) defines a header to a JPEG image file. The point here is that EXIF tags support GPS data, so you can associate corresponding latitude, longitude and altitude values of a location to a picture. In fact, you can associate a ton of info from a GPS receiver: bearing, distance to target, there are at least 30 fields for GPS related data only.

As covered at a previous post cameras that generate EXIF headers with their associated GPS Receiver data don't come cheap or easy. And if you want to get dirty and code something yourself check Exiv2, a C++ library for EXIF handling.

A workaround requires a way to associate which picture you took at which position. With a GPX log file from a receiver and time of the day you can batch read a series of JPEG files and rewrite them with the corresponding location information. [Check a most recent post for an actual implementation of this idea].

Tools

GPS Photo Linker from GeoSpatial Experts (don't confuse with the freeware below) iTag and GeoSnapper were covered in the same post about GPS Cameras.

This time Mac users are in luck. The freebie GPSPhotoLinker seems to be well appreciated. Windows users have a professional and efficient choice with RoboGeo. These products will solve questions like: How to upload GPX tracks? Or associate a specific picture to a location from that track?

For iPhoto users, check the iPhotoToGoogleEarth plug-in.


Showing off

But then, where do I put these pictures? Which sites take geotagged photos? Here the choice seem to go around Flickr, Zoomr, loc.alize.us, Fotki, YourMap, Yuan.CC Maps and Panoramio.

RoboGeo for example, can export geotagged photos to Flickr, after you go through its authorization process that will only require your account name (if you are already logged into it). Then at Flickr you can associate those pictures to a map. You can then search the map for pictures titles. Flickr will also let you post uploaded photos to a blog, even through email. Things are moving fast on this lane.

At the end, the photos got geotagged and uploaded but location was off. Not sure where in the process the units weren't respected. The values displayed by Flickr didn't match the original ones provided to RoboGeo. There is also a XML GeoTag that can be generated by tools like RoboGeo or generated from the EXIF data, but that's an extra step or workaround.

I might have switched the pictures but something tells me that the location data based on the original EXIF information still requires some work at Flickr, but I might be wrong here.

Pointers

FlikrFly has a Google Earth connection. More about Flickr on this /. thread and also scilib, txfx, flickr and thomashawk. Special attention to Thomas Hawk. Check also Geobloggers.

Lots of resources on GeoTagging at Richard Akerman's Geocoding Photos.

See Also: "Geolocation through IP" at the Linux Journal. Pay special attention to the comments. And this post.

DIY: C# Code for GPS

Borland doesn't have support for CompactFramework (yet?) so I had to go with the devil on this one. Visual Studio took 2 hours to get installed. I could read the name of every single file and registry entry being processsed. Half a second each it seemed.

MSDN took some chunk of it but the real culprit seems to be the .msi engine. It sucks. Big time.

Now I found this neat GPS code sample under "Coding4Fun, Where the Heck Am I?". Good luck finding things at MS' site. Messy. But after some dead ends you start to manage the complexity. How much time do you want from me?

Anyway. It built and ran just plain fine. Well organized project, or solution as those folks at Redmond call them. Anders is behind C sharpness after Gosling laugh at him. Battle of Egos. Unfortunate.

If you got a Bluetooth unit, plug a dongle to an USB port, select the MainForm.cs and run the project. GPS Client window comes up with four tabs. Select the Set Up tab and set the COM port. Hit connect and wait. Don't hit connect without setting the COM port first. You will have to kill the GPSClient.vshost.exe process.

TeleAtlas takes your directions

Did you just found out that the street you are in isn't in your GPS map? TeleAtlas will let you update their maps. For now it seems to be limited to Boston, MA.

From GisUser.

Monday, August 28, 2006

News: GPS-enabled UMPC

Asus announced the release of R2H, the first UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) equipped with GPS to hit the market it seems. Originally from ZDNet. If you got one around try GPS.Radar from JGUI.

Dash.net might catch your interest: "Dash will set a new industry standard for accurate, up-to-date information that helps alleviate the growing problem of traffic congestion in most major cities". The idea is to stay connected through an Internet link to update traffic info. TrafficGauge might be a cheaper solution for the same issue.

But it seems that this won't be the first to market, Streetdeck.com already has a similar product for sale. Along these lines, Technology Review has an article around the subject with a couple of really bad ideas.

And check an interesting interface to Google Maps in MapMyRun, which supports .gpx data upload.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

RouteBuddy: GPS on the Mac

RouteBuddy trial version is available for download, works with USB and Bluetooth GPS receiver when set to NMEA device. The $99 US$ package can log a track automatically or within preset intervals. Map for US costs $50 each. European maps also available. Pretty basic user interface and feature set. Without actual data hard to say if the whole package is worth it.

Demo/trial shows Arizona map, but if you plug a GPS to it you will get a blank area. You can place waypoints, create routes and calculate distances. From there you can launch Google Earth and Google Maps to pinpoint your current location.

Map data from TeleAtlas includes searchable POI (point-of-interests). Intel upgrades promised to be made available soon. Check this blog for a similar view on this package and a pretty comprehensive list of other packages available on the Mac.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cabspotting, Wi-Fi Mapping

ZeroOne in San Jose included also an exhibit hosted at the Exploratorium called Cabspotting . Start the Cab Tracker to see the actual movement of the Yellow Cabs around the City, and if they carry passengers or not. Another project mapped wi-fi spots in a PDA.

Perl + eTrex = Mashups

Mike Schilli has an article in the August issue of Linux Magazine about parsing data from a Garmin eTrex with Perl scripts and displaying its waypoints in Yahoo Maps. The German version of the magazine has the full article, you can try Babelfish for an English translation. You will need a custom cable to read data from the Garmin.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Paranapiacaba

That is Tupi-Guarani for “the place where you can see the ocean”.

This shot was taken from what I think is the closest way to see something like that after dropping from the bus. Just go back a bit and behind the parking lot you will see a trail. It will take you to a little wood structure from where you can sunset from.

Trick is, fog rises early so, city is almost always surrounded by moisture. That day the fog almost made into its valley, but the Sun was way too hot for it to sit and cover every little red house built by English engineers.

They arrived end of 1800’s, looked at the problem and built a solution.The trains were supposed to be carried up the 800 meters from sea level along 10 kilometers. How steep? Do the math.

Marcio can tell you all about it at the Train Museum that his father, assassinated while driving his locomotive left him as Life’s Work. Today Marcio prays that powered hands will see the benefit of reconnecting the “Baixada Santista” to the elevated downtown life of Sampa, or Sao Paulo for its natives.

There is a commercial, diesel train taking minerals down that line, for exports. But no Litoranea, or line that “paulistas” and visitors can take to explore the City from its best angle.

Diversion

For that you might try flying back from Rio. Take the shuttle from Rio to Congonhas in Sao Paulo, and pray for its pilot to take you over the “Serra da Tijuca”. Enjoy the long single side isthmus that follows for miles buffering the land from the tropical Atlantic Ocean. And then, if it comes flying down towards Congonhas right from NE he/she might take you over Cubatao at the closest distance to Sao Paulo’s center. One day I came thru it as if going inside a crater made out of clouds with the Sun settling behind them.

If you want to help Marcio, here is his phone in Paranapiacaba: 1155 7605-2398 or you can try ABPF’s numbers [Associacao Brasileira de Preservacao Ferroviaria] for Brazilian Association for Rail Preservation at 55 11 6695-1151. [You can also set group visits to Paranapiacaba by calling this number.]

Trip

Check the maps at the subway while in Sao Paulo. CPTM is the old, recovered train system and it connects to Metro, the subway. Get one ticket to jump from one system to the other. You can go pretty much anywhere with them. Walk the distance or try buses [EMTU] which are way less predictable, and you don’t need to try that hard. Best way to learn Sampa is walking its streets. Just be street-smart and don’t try unknown areas after dark.

But if you are brave enough to try by yourself, go to Estacao da Luz (close to the Museum of Portuguese Language, recommended) take the CPTM [light brown line in the map image] train to Rio Grande da Serra all the way to its end and then take the 424 bus, a blue one to Paranapiacaba. It will let you just past the parking lot where the “mirante” hides itself.

Paranapiacaba is down the steep road past the little Church. The city lives for its Winter Festival that just about happened, so during weekdays don’t expect to see many stores and places open, but weekends are better served.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

GPS Race

China's Compass, Europe's Galileo, Russian's Glonass, American's NavStar, Japanese and, Indian cooperation efforts (or their own system), anybody else?

LBS happening?

Check out this British sourced post giving out a pretty complete state of the LBS panorama. It does shoot at everyone with reason and tons of wit, sparing the Intel/PlaceLab/Wigle combination.

Interestingly enough, Directions Magazine has a PR from a major implementation of what looks like a pretty useful service.

Let's say a:

"family relocating from Germany to a base in Oklahoma can search for installations related and local services in the area including schools, ATM’s, Pharmacies, parks and other municipal services."

Developed by eSpatial which provides OGC Web Services, it includes an Ajax interface and uses "NAVTEQ’s Streets and Points of Interest (POI) dataset". Oracle databases are "used for geocoding and routing."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

GPS-enabled Pigeons Flying

This art-science-digital mashup project has been opened for business of "environmental air pollution data gathering". Public events are scheduled in San Jose Downtown. You can watch a test flight movie at the blog plus schematics, pollution data, pigeons info and a Google map with different color schemes that shows where the city is more or less polluted with their flight tracks. [But it ruffled some feathers...]

From the schematics it seems that something like the Siemens XT55 is part of the gear. This is a "tri-band GSM/GPRS-enabled module [...] equipped with GPS". I wonder if the magnetic field generated by this device isn't strong enough to throw off their sense of direction. Remember reading about a research where magnetic particles were found in the back of pigeons heads. And it seems that men got some of these particles too.

Digital Compass

On the hardware front, Yamaha is making available for use in mobile phones and navigation systems a digital compass with the YAS529, "worlds' smallest class of three-axis goemagnetic sensor IC chips". Yamaha is answering user's demand of a "heading up function, that keeps the map oriented in the direction of the user's movement."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"Firewall" spoiler

This one was to say the least, cute.

Harrison bridging the technological gap in a well worked plot on Firewall. [BTW, make sure you can read HD-DVD on your next player before jumping the gun on HDMI, 1080i and distractions like those.]

[And here the Spoiller Alert] But this one came with a twist, remember GlobalPetFinder? Yeah, so it seems that fitting a pet with one of those gadgets can be actually, helpful.

Hitchhikers Project

As part of the ZeroOne event, full size replicas of Silicon Valley pioneers equipped with GPS based tracking devices are trying to get back to California from their native states. Robert Noyce is stuck somewhere in Wisconsin. Frederick Terman is going in circles. Lee de Forest will start his journey on the 7th.

Go give them a ride back home, poor guys. First seen at the Register.

Friday, August 04, 2006

News, not so news

A whole month worth of news and not so news about GPS and Location-based services:

LBS

Location based services are popping up: ProximityMedia is providing an infrastructure for Bluetooth devices with its MediaServer. When iPods starts supporting BlueTooth you will be able to listen to what is broadcasted around you.

D.C. Taxis: GPS used to calculate fares.

Dutch Bikers using GPS to track routes
To help bicyclists find the best route to get home, a Wiki type effort was created to grab GPS data and a good map of Holland. The result is a web-based map that you can use to get directions for your bike ride. Drag the green flag to the start of the route, and the red on to the end. Hit item 3, Bereken Route! and see the results. Zoom in and check the left pane for detailed directions. Learn some Dutch along the way and you are done...

First seen here.

BackPacker magazine offers now routes with GPS data for bikers, runners and hikers. Offers include data for Denver, Chicago, New York, LA and some other major cities.

Another site is www.bikely.com with .gpx files download for bike routes. BikeMetro.com is another option for rides in LA.

First seen here

GPS on the PSP: If you can’t wait for the official hardware, try adding GPS to your PSP with this tip.

GPS can help give early warning of tsunamis.

Garmin delays Mac GPS support until end of 2006 for its Training Center package.

Want to buy some POI (point-of-interest) data? Or topographical maps from Mexico?

Jealous GPS Stalker gets jail.

Galileo Data Craked
According to this article on the EETimes "a team from Cornell University Global Positioning System (GPS) Laboratory has cracked the secret codes to be used by Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite network, despite efforts to keep the codes secret". GPS World magazine published their findings here.

Google launches live traffic map for cell phones
Still no GPS support, but you can now get live traffic data for a search. But CEO opens up and describes his view of the future of Google offers with location based radio ad’s among them.

Useless Studies Dept:
I don’t think I would need a study to figure this out...

Sync pictures with GPS data

Sony will be releasing in a month or so a little gadget that you can carry around tracking your location while you take pictures.

Later on you upload its data and sync it with the photos you took. Cheaper than the full Nikon package.

Check the reviews from PcAdvisor and Digit.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

PocketPC Development, Location based Art

I’ve been spending some research time trying to make sense of MS Toolset, so far this what I got:

It seems that with Embedded Visual C++ you can generate executables for a particular device, like ARM, SH, …etc. But I’m not sure you can use CF with it. For that you would probably need VS 2003 .NET or the still current Visual Studio 2005. In fact, I’m starting to question if I really need to use the .NET Compact Framework for now.

Now considering development for the PocketPC device, and Windows CE version 4.x, or Windows Mobile 2003 you can use Visual Studio .NET 2003 and .NET 1.1. Net 2.0 requires Window Mobile 2005, and for that you will need Visual Studio 2005 Standard or Professional. The free Express version won’t do.

You can order a free DVD of a 90-day free trial (you pay US$5.99 for shipping plus tax) for any of the current Visual Studio 2005 offers. But if you don’t need the CompactFramework by now, you can download and install the also free embedded Visual C++ 4.0 off their website. The key necessary for installing it is down the page. Also, if you really want to make use of the GPS library now available for Windows Mobile 5.0 you might need VS 2005. Not sure here.

For now I’m considering using the NMEA parser available at the maker of Beeline GPS by reading raw data out of a COM port.

Art on the Edge
For those art inclined around the Bay Area, the Mercury News got a nice presentation for the upcoming Digital Arts Festival. One of the performances is the pigeon hooked up to a GPS unit sending SMS about its current location, plus how polluted that airspace is at the time. Location-based art.

Originally posted at jeepx.net

Sea Men

Posted at jeepx.net

MapTech ChartPlotter

Just learned about Pocket Navigator, a $50 GPS package for the PocketPC. The interesting point is that this is their offer after the main developer of its previous PPC product decided to make on his own.