July 31, 2009
Bob Rennard, co-founder and CTO of TeleNav, the mobile phone navigation provider, was also one of the original engineers on the GPS system for the military when first developed. He took some time out of his day to answer some questions for GPSLodge about the early days of GPS and the recent news that the GPS system might not be performing well as a result of satellite issues. Clearly, the goals of the original team were not to have a tiny GPS chipset in every mobile phone sold today, so it's amazing to see the progress. See the Q&A below for more info on the history and how he landed at TeleNav.
GPSLodge: The first Block 1 Satellite was launched in 1978, with 10 total satellites launched right through 1985. When did you know that this new system was going to be a success and what was it like to see the results as these satellites were launched and the systems become functional?
Bob Rennard: Unfortunately, my tour of duty with the GPS program office ended just after the first USAF satellite was placed on orbit. Early testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona employed a hybrid constellation of the 1977 Navy and 1978 USAF satellites with an array of synchronized ground transmitters that formed the 'inverted range'. During this testing, a Sylvania PATS tracker was used to provide ground truth for the testing. In short order, discrepancies between PATS and the GPS testing were determined to be due to a small mechanical error in the PATS that had never been noticed before, but that GPS detected. At that point, we knew GPS was going to be a success.
Continued after the jump.....
Continue reading: "Bob Rennard - Engineer on Original GPS, TeleNav Co-Founder; Q&A with GPSLodge"
July 28, 2009
Navigon has launched their $70 Navigator for the iPhone in the US, with map coverage of the US and Canada. There have been a few stories posted with feedback on the performance; bottom line is that it works well, when compared to a basic navigation device standard. At this writing, it's #2 in the paid Applications list for navigation at iTunes.
Assuming that it needed to strip features for price or for size of the application, Navigon did not include Text to Speech capability, or phone numbers in the database. They may have just run out of time; there is a free update on it's way to help you out with new features including: Phone Numbers of POI's, Navigon's Advanced Route Planning feature, Additional map view options, and something that they are referring to as optimized volume control when using the iPod function and the navigation device at the same time.
I know that you would need to shut off the auto-dimming capabilities for the iPhone in the settings area to keep the device lit up while using it. Trust me, this will be a battery sucking device if you are driving around with the backlight and the GPS blazing away - not unique to the Navigon MobileNavigator though.
One commenter here at GPSLodge also noted that the phone got pretty warm while crunching away on all of that work navigating him around.
CNet has a quick article posted about the Navigon capabilities which is worth reading. I'll continue to add more as I see good ones pop up.
At iTunes - Navigon App
July 26, 2009
I love the Tour de France and all of the drama that came this year with the layout of the overall stages to end the race on Ventoux. Obviously a big win for Contador, and one heck of a comeback for Lance, apparently sending TV ratings around the world through the roof. Pretty impressive to come back after four years and finish on the podium, beating some of the best riders in the world. If you missed Ventoux, you missed some unbelievable riding by the #2 finisher overall, Andy Schleck.
Team Garmin came back in their sophomore year and really stood out in my mind to come in second for the Team standings, with Brad Wiggins coming in fourth overall, and young sprinter Tyler Farrar on the podium today just missing the last sprint for first place.
If you like Team Garmin, you should have been following Jake on Twitter; he was there for the first six stages, and again the last few days of the Tour, offering up some great pictures, (Note the Garmin Edge on the handlebars of Brad Wiggins) and some fun commentary too. Sure Jake is an employee of Garmin, but it's easy to tell he's a fan too.
July 26, 2009
Yes, the Garmin Nuvifone G60 is shipping in Asia this coming week, and will be the first launch of many, I would assume, for the long awaited phone. The touchscreen phone of course also doubles as a Garmin navigator, and runs on a Linux OS. No word on US launch, we'll keep you posted.
July 21, 2009
Inrix has announced their first major expansion of capabilities into Europe as they put a solid foot on the ground with 50,000 KM of covered flow data for roadways across major western European countries. Inrix continues on a quality message with the work to demonstrate the quality of their Euro coverage through "ground truth" testing to validate the data set and traffic model work.
"High quality pan-European traffic information simply does not exist today," said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO. "We are working hard to change that, as we did in the U.S., by leveraging key strategic partnerships, using our proven sophisticated technologies and applying our unique and scalable crowd-sourcing model to the aggregation of traffic information."
Next up; the rest of Europe for 2010. Full press release below......
Continue reading: "Inrix - Realtime Traffic Flow in Europe"
July 19, 2009
TomTom conducted a survey to discover some driving habits of a few major cities around the country, discovering that there are certainly some fun differences out there. The survey figured out that the following cities divide out as:
Diligent Drivers: Los Angeles, Houston
Neutral Navigators: Chicago, New York
Courageous Commuters: Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis
There are also some fun questions about who uses their horn the most - Boston, who sticks to the speed limit the most - Minneapolis, and who claims to pick their nose the most....... you can find the answer after the jump.
Continue reading: "TomTom Survey Reveals Interesting Facts about Drivers"
July 14, 2009
The Battle Royale of traffic providers continues to drive interest amoung our readers, and Airsage just made a big deal to add Verizon wireless handsets to their list of providers who offer anonymous mobile phone movement data to help understand traffic flow patterns across the nation. Airsage has been providing this information to outlets like Google Maps, where you can see their coverage down to secondary roads around major cities. That coverage is impressive, which will now extend to "200,000 centerline miles of roadway" by quadrupling the number of traffic status information bursts from these handsets. The concern is and always will be quality of data; let's face it, coverage doesn't mean anything if the data is inaccurate. With the Verizon Guy behind Airsage, one has to imagine that the quality will take a big jump on these covered roads.
Inrix, Traffic.com and TrafficCast are other major traffic providers in the space that use various data gathering techniques to capture, analyze and even predict traffic patterns around you. See more info on traffic providers in our Traffic Section.
Press Release Below - Thanks Jim or sending in.
Continue reading: "Airsage Adds Verizon Handsets - Boost to Covered Miles"
July 12, 2009
The TomTom GO 740 LIVE marks the first entry to the US market of a connected service by TomTom, one of the top names in personal navigation devices, making a strong step into the next generation of devices with its access to better traffic alerts, Google Search, gas prices and more. At the base, the TomTom 740 is a fully functional navigation unit offering a top of the line approach to TomTom's version of features, **lane assist, Bluetooth handsfree capability, Help Me!, MapShare, and IQ Routes - a way of learning about travel times based on other people's read world experience.
With a strong base, the TomTom GO 740 LIVE adds on a nice set of features allowing the connected device to help make your commute easier, a search for a destination more straightforward and and overall more informed traveler when you decide to use the connected features as part of your planning process. The ability doesn't come free through, as the connected plan essentially has you paying about $10 per month for the connected services. Don't want to pay the fees? The GO 740 LIVE becomes a regular old GPS, that still allows you to navigate to an on-board set of POI's, with a strong feature set and solid navigation. If you are not in the market for the LIVE connected capabilities, look elsewhere, as there are cheaper ways even within the TomTom line to get a full complement of features without paying for the LIVE capabilities that TomTom includes. As I came into the testing of the TomTom GO 740 LIVE for this review, key in my mind were the question son how well do the connected features work, how are they integrated into the regular GPS navigation capabilities and the bottom line or is it all worth the extra $10 a month for the subscription.
Continue reading: "TomTom GO 740 LIVE Full Review"
Well, it's been a busy week this first full week in July. Personally, I have been on vacation, in the land of the GPS Store - a great week at the beach. Having time off during the first week of the Tour de France was great to see developments unfold as Lance returns in what appears to be full form, and watching Jake's Twitter feed (Garmin Outdoor PR Manager) tell the behind the scenes tales of a tour junkie (Did you know Jimmy Buffett is a Tour Fan and a Garmin user?). Team Garmin Slipstream, is doing well as is Lance's team; Astana. Should be an exciting Alps set of stages next week. If you are following us on Twitter, you'd know all of this already; if not go ahead and follow GPSLodge on Twitter.
Mobile GPS applications are all the rage right now, as big names are pushing into the iPhone and G1 space. TeleNav, TomTom and Navigon are all going into the iPhone space, while Trimble announced an Outdoors application for the G1.
Garmin started shipping their Nuvi 1200 and 1300 series; with a big push this week.
I will be posting my TomTom GO 740 LIVE review later today; stay tuned.
July 10, 2009
Navigon is about 2 weeks away from launching their full US iPhone Application and as a little teaser, they have launched a LITE version to let you see how the full version will work.
To be clear this FREE lite version is not a fully working GPS navigation software Application; it is a demo that let's you see how the interface works, the map quality and what the overall system can do for you. Don't download the thing thinking that you are going to navigate to grandma's house for dinner. At 1.3GB, the application is pretty substantial, and you probably want to do it down to your computer and then sync it. I pulled it down over WiFi directly to the phone and it took quite a while.
In order to use something like this, you'll want to go and change the "Auto-Lock" feature to "Never" so that the screen won't go blank when navigating. Settings--> General--> Auto-Lock.
Navigon feels that the price in Europe of about $99 worked rather well to drive volume, according to TWICE. I would expect a similar price for the US. The concern twist will come when TomTom announces their application and hardware suite pricing this Fall, giving Navigon some well-known brand name competition. The price for these two applications will be paid upfront while TeleNav's solution through AT&T uses a monthly fee structure for their fees.
Navigon LITE at the iTunes APP Store (iTunes Link)
July 8, 2009
Trimble and NAVTEQ have inked a deal with NAVTEQ supplying global map data as well as advanced information including traffic, and truck-specific information that NAVTEQ supplies. The information will allow Trimble to compete in Mobile Resource Management solutions through its suite of product offerings. As these capabilities continue to develop, the prevalence of usage has to increase. Look for bleed over of these capabilities into the consumer market as location based services continues to push forward.
Full Press Release Below
Continue reading: "Trimble and NAVTEQ tie the Knot - Long Term Map, Traffic and Truck Navigation Data"
July 7, 2009
Trimble has announced a new outdoor enthusiast program that allows G1 owners to plan, record and enhance their hikes outdoors by logging the trip and sharing with others. Since the maps are downloaded to the phone, you can work outside the coverage area and still know your way around. On an overnight? You might need to take a long a solar charger, for longer trips, because using the GPS can cut battery time down to a day's worth of hiking time. Any pictures taken along the way will be geotagged and saved for later. The pictures, text and audio notes can be shared on Facebook Google Earth or Trimble's own sharing site.
More at Trimble Outdoors
Full Press Release Below.....
Continue reading: "Trimble Outdoors Mobile Phone GPS Software for the G1 Android System"
AT&T is launching a TeleNav powered "Mobile Resource Management" tracking service for businesses to see where their workers (mobile phones) are at any time. The service works on most AT&T phones and can't be turned off.
"Yup I am right here at the customer's doorway", "Hey, that's funny, the web management software has you sitting at a donut shop. Why is that?"
The service is launching in late July.
Full Press Release Below
Continue reading: "TeleNav and AT&T Launch Small Business Tracking - Mobile Resource Management"
July 6, 2009
When people hike into the woods for a day hike, sometimes the choice is not as critical, but when you are hiking, let's say into the White Mountains, or any back country area, you need to be able to rely on your navigation tools. I always carry a couple of sets of extra batteries to back up what I think I will need for my expected trip, and a paper map just in case. It's a system that hasn't failed me yet.
The AMC did a little run-off on the Map and Compass vs. the GPS in a nice little head to head exercise that helps set the stage for why you might want to bring both, while also pointing out the obvious: the GPS is a nice step forward in technology.
I will say that before you get a new GPS and carry it into the wilderness, you need to take the time to rely on it's capabilities and learn to use them to locate where you are, where you want to go and how to get there as fast as possible. There's a big difference between having a GPS, so that you know where you are versus having a GPS and being able to navigate with it.
Check out the AMCs head to head of a GPS vs. a Map and Compass
DeLorme announced that they are entering the mapping arena for third party applications, OEM, etc. They now have routable streets as well as trails for the US, while also offering world wide data. The quality maps that you have seen on StreetAtlas, are now available for us elsewhere. Big step for them as they continue to expand their influence and flex muscle in the mapping area, an offshoot of their longtime application development and hardware development.
Full Press Release Below
Continue reading: "DeLorme Enters Worldwide Map Data Market"
July 3, 2009
Here's a contest that can earn you some bragging rites or at least a few grand from MapMyRide.com, the program that allows you to map and upload bike routes to share them with the greater biking community. The site has really grown up since I first saw it with lots of integration of services, capabilities and features. The basic idea is that it is a great community of other riders where you can share rides, routes and tips. They have also wrapped training programs and training goals around the offering to make it a pretty compelling site. There is a free and premium version.
Check out Map My Ride and look into how you can Map Your Ride, and ride the virtual tour this year; maybe even win some prizes. Who knows, maybe Phil Liggett will be announcing you winning the virtual tour at the end of the contest.
Garmin announced a BMW-specific motorcycle GPS model that will be offered through BMW authorized resellers this fall. The unit, based on the Zumo 660 GPS, has some pretty solid features like a 4.3-inch glove friendly touch screen control, water proof to IPX7 standards, with gasoline splash resistance too.
The enhanced extras that come with the BMW model include a special mount that adds extra buttons on the left to give the rider direct access to commonly used features, as well as a pre-loaded BMW dealership Point of Interest database. Also, "The BMW Motorrad Navigator IV’s stereo (A2DP) Bluetooth wireless technology makes it possible for riders to pair their phone to a Bluetooth enabled helmet or handset so that they can safely talk on the phone or listen to MP3’s without having to remove their gloves or helmet."
I think that the wireless sharing of routes is a great feature on the unit through Bluetooth. Following in the footsteps of handhelds and the Garmin Edge bicycling GPS, the sharing of specific routes is a great way to plan a group outing.
Full Press Release Below.....
Continue reading: "Garmin Launches BMW Motorrad Navigator IV - New Motorcycle Navigation"
Garmin is kicking off a How To series for the Edge 705 bike GPS and Computer. Sure they are basic, but that's the point. Think of it as the video based version of the fold out Quick Guide that comes in the box anyway with these things. I reviewed the Garmin Edge 705 a year ago just before the Tour de France and liked it a lot. If I could justify the price for yet another GPS in this household, I would have snapped it up in an instant. Watch this video and it will offer up related videos that teach about HRM and starting up the Edge for a ride.
If you aren't following the Tour this year, you should. It should be exciting with the return of Lance, and a very competitive Team Garmin/Slipstream with their impressive depth of riders.
July 2, 2009
Interesting news bit out that is reporting iSupply data indicates that there is a boom ahead of us in real time traffic reporting subscriptions. Yes, I know you knew that, but now the rest of the world does too. The expectations are that the subscriber base could grow by 10X versus today to 51 million in 2014, up from about 4.6 million today. Revenue could jump to $1.3Bil from a little over $100 million today.
It's no surprise that people are interested in this, but what is driving it is the very real change that we are seeing in the delivery of traffic solutions and how data is being utilized, refined and sent out to the ever increasing legion of navigation solutions. things have changed and a next generation solution is taking shape. I wrote about some of the barriers that would be falling back in January 2007, to create a bigger, better traffic reporting solution, and for the most part, we are now seeing all of that coming to fruition.
1) High quality databases using historical traffic data are in use - just consider the TomTom IQ Routes next time you buy a TomTom, or use any resource that uses the Inrix data systems.
2) Increase in coverage and flow capabilities - the increase is there, but not to the point that we all have access to flow data on secondary roads which is what I really want. It is present in some higher end traffic databases though.
3) Bandwidth - TomTom LIVE (Go 740 in US) has cellular connections as does TeleNav Shotgun for high bandwidth two-way data transfer; result is more detailed and more accurate assessment of the traffic issues ahead. Furthermore, you are starting to see high quality mobile phone applications roll into the market with traffic feeds; plenty of bandwidth to grab not only data but over the air delivery of maps on some of them.
I think that the building blocks are there for this reported leap in the subscriber base, but I would like to see better application of the traffic database to the end product on secondary roads across more devices, as well as the higher end units roll down their capabilities for Go 740/Shotgun caliber traffic to the mass market units to enable the subscription market to take off.
ReadMore at TWICE
July 1, 2009
The big news this month had to be the announcement of the new mobile applications for the iPhone. Long rumored, and now available (Navigon for europe only), the slew of mobile phone capable navigation is going to build on a market long occupied by TeleNav. Should be interesting to see build.
Garmin wasn't quiet this past month as they announced a touchscreen unit that is a bit more compact, very capable, and a bit less expensive than the higher end units that it has been plowing the investment dollars into - the Garmin Dakota hits stores soon.
Garmin GPS News
TomTom GPS News
GPS Rebates and Sales
Mobile Phone GPS
Traffic.com has upgraded to include a mobile friendly site online to help you deal with the woes of traffic. The site mirrors that functionality online of it's regular site where you can not only get a quick view of traffic in your area, but login and get your Jam Factors and overviews of what your critical drives might look like.
I use Traffic.com to store a couple of drives (work related) and they email me daily the situation on the roads, with estimated drive times and traffic congestion levels - the Jam Factor. After accommodating for the fact that the data arrives just after 7AM, and I generally get on the road about a half hour later, the email alerts are good enough to give me a good look into what the overall traffic situation is. With the Mobile data, you'll have this type of insight and of course the little maps there too to help you deal with the traffic.
Set up an account at Traffic.com, then head over to Mobi.traffic.com for the full benefits. Or just head over to the mobile website straight away to check it out.
Full press release below.
Continue reading: "NAVTEQ - Upgraded Traffic.com Site for Mobile Phone Use"