August 28, 2009
Garmin introduced ecoRoute earlier this year, an add-on application to its newer Nuvi line that helps drivers save gas through a feedback mechanism (Leaf icon with a score right on the main screen under the "+/-" zoom buttons on the right side of the screen) so that they learn what types of behavior helps and hurts the environment (your gas mileage). The application has you putting in your car's mileage estimate profile (City and Highway MPG), and utilizes the icon to send you feedback about your driving habits via a little leaf icon (red, yellow, green) overall. The program also offers you a "Challenge" where it will monitor your driving for a period of time and show you a few specifics about your challenge; where you are doing well and where you are not.
I activated the ecoRoute on a Nuvi 255W to test things out. You can access the ecoRoute program through the "Tools" menu on the GPS, off the main screen. ecoRoute is available on the 205, 705, 1200 and 1300 series at this writing.
More details below on my ecoRoute escapades.
Continue reading: "Got EcoRoute? Playing with EcoRoute on the Nuvi 255W"
August 26, 2009
TWICE has a good little article today looking at the explosion of iPhone applications that are hitting the iPhone to help you get through your navigationally challenged day. If you are a GPSLodge regular, you've seen articles on almost all of these, but when put together, the overview really starts to document the trend. I was remarking the other day that this summer is the summer that the road veered strongly away from the standalone GPS to a split pathway forward (for now maybe) of the smartphone and standalone GPS as the choices for navigation information in the future.
We've seen applications from TomTom, TeleNav, Navigon, iGo, and waze for getting you from here to there, while others have offered interesting approaches to the single problem of traffic, like Aha and Inrix. While Aha, is a crowdsourced model, the inrix application relies on its vast database of GPS probes, road sensors and the like to offer up a highly accurate picture of the traffic situation now and forecasted into the near future. According to TWICE, the Inrix model is 85 to 95 percent accurate, while others are 50 to 85 percent accurate. Users of the inrix Traffic! application will benefit from the accuracy while also becoming part of the anonymous data GPS probe data collection team.
Turn by turn directions on the iPhone is certainly left to be proven that it will take hold and deliver, but with the weight of the players behind it, one has to think that they can figure it out. there certainly are some shortcomings, including a drain on the battery, hard to hear turn directions and the smallish screen that the stand alone GPS market is countering by offering large and larger screens in most product lines. TomTom is solving for the battery issue and the turn volume issue with a hardware mount that includes charging and a speaker to offer a near-stand alone performance in the add-on package.
More at Twice
August 26, 2009
Yesterday on the Google blog, it was announced that Google is indeed tracking and analyzing the traffic patterns and movement info of the Google maps users when they opt to show their location to Google, and expanding it nationally to US highways and arterial roads when data is available. By analyzing thousands or millions of phones with map and posted speed limit data, they should be able to start to assemble a traffic picture that starts to build accuracy when overlaid on top of a base set of data (to fill in the gaps).
"When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you're moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers."
The crowdsource sharing capability is available on the MyTouch 3G and the PalmPre; not the iPhone which doesn't support the crowdsource feature. See the Google Blog post for more information and a way that you can opt out if the whole idea of being anonymously tracked by google freaks you out too much.
More at Google blog
August 25, 2009
Filed under not nearly as awesome as a GPS with a screen is this GPS watch that shows you the way back home or to your car with little LED indicators. When you get out of your car, you can press and hold a button for 2 seconds to log your target's location and then when you need to find your way back, you can utilize the directional LED's to find your way there. When you are ready, you can also log your trek on your computer and see the trek on Google Maps. With a battery life of 21 hours, you'll be charging yet another appliance every night.
August 20, 2009
Aha is the driver to driver network for road warriors who need to deal with and hear about traffic conditions on your road ahead. Aha is different, and while it is crowdsourcing some of the alerts, the system is based on underlying traffic reporting from Inrix. When drivers need to alert each other, they can send a "Shout" - a 15 second alert to others along the way warning them about the trouble they see on the road. Aha has incorporated content from other providers like restrooms from sitorsquat.com, restaurants from Yelp, and redlight cameras from photoenforced.com. The connected nature makes these feeds, and the possibilities pretty exciting. On the fun side of things, you can also send out Careoke sing-alongs and shouts about the stupid jerk who just cut you off.
The big difference in all of this is that Aha, is not map based; it is specifically designed to be a traffic application that offers you an easy "65-MPH" interface that you can interact with and be able to deal with while driving. The large icons tell you where the traffic alerts are, and offer a quick way to get recorded details about the incident. See the video demo below on the application.
The company, which soft launched its application two weeks ago in Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, has expanded road and traffic coverage in the following major metropolitan areas:
o Dallas and San Antonio, TX
o Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Miami Beach, FL
o Seattle, WA
o Washington D.C.
Free at the iTunes Store - Aha Mobile App for the iPhone (iTunes link)
August 19, 2009
Garmin seems ready to blow the doors off when they announce the next round of upgrades with the previously leaked 1690 connected GPS, and now an 1800 class of products that appear to be bigger and better than the rest. A few details are known about the Nuvi 1820, a large 4.8-inch screened giant, with an internet browser, access to email and streaming audio and video. these functions are supported by the WiFi connection. Not sure if the connected EDGE technology is beefy enough to provide these services reliably. It is however plenty big for providing other important connected services like traffic updates, weather, fuels prices, etc.
The Nuvi 1860 is said to add a 3 megapixel camera with geotagging to the mix, above and beyond the beefy 1820 features. Engadget is also reporting that the Nuvi 1690 will come with 2 years of service and be priced in the $500 range. At $10 a month for connected service, that's half the price of the unit at sticker price.
My observations over the years is that if Garmin is not the first to market with new features, they tend to do it well shortly after someone else's launch. I am not over the top excited about streaming video on the 1820/1860, but I suspect that the traffic interface, connected search features and other higher order navigation capabilities will be well engineered. We'll see when they shoot this out come September (hopefully).
August 17, 2009
TomTom has released their iPhone application for North America, and from the description, the capabilities seem to cover the basics: IQ Routes - offers some historical perspective on what routes are faster given historical speeds (not just posted speed limits), call your Point of Interest from the phone, navigate to contact's addresses, and coverage for North America (Canada, US and Puerto Rico). Priced at $99, no word right now on the drivers kit that offers a mount with a speaker and a charger.
at itunes - TomTom US and Canada
Navigon has issued an upgrade to their iPhone application that is selling well at the iTunes store. The new upgrade offers the ability to plan routes ahead of time which can save precious time on the road, while also tying into the iPhone to call a Point of interest directly from the listing in the Navigon application. They also tweaked the ability to control volumes between the audio from the iPhone and the audio on the navigation application. Finally, the upgrade enables you to control which POI's are shown on the map; always a help if you are on th elook out for a gas station or a place to eat, etc.
at iTunes the Navigon App
Continue reading: "Navigon for iPhone - Free upgrade Available"
August 14, 2009
The Garmin Nuvi 855 is widescreened full-features unit that offers text to speech, a 4.3-inch widescreen, maps of North America, and it takes text commands. The drop in price has pushed it to be one of the hotest selling GPS units at Amazon. The original list price of $699 put a pretty big premium on this unit, now shipping for much much less.
At Amazon while they last - Garmin Nuvi 885 for $256
August 13, 2009
According to a recent NPD study, in-dash Navigation is up 36% while portable navigation is only up 4%; the evolution continues. What's driving it? Cost is one factor, average selling price is down to $700 for the after market in-dash models, still much lower than the factory installed models. So while the in-dash models are starting at a really low base point, they may be a more viable format in the future. Another amazing stat from NPD is that 84% of all portable GPS sales were below $200 in June. Not a big surprise that the number is high, I am just amazed that the number is THAT high. This is not good news for new launches targeting only 16% of the market with higher end connected devices like the TomTom 740 LIVE and the Garmin Nuvi 1690.
August 11, 2009
I always like to see what's around the corner in these Location Based Services contests that tend to keep your finger on the pulse of newness and consumer needs. This year, the finalists include entries that search out what's happening sourced from peers and content feeds, a taxi ordering service from your mobile phone that also offers the ability for taxi firms to bid for your business, and a multi-modal point to point navigation service that takes into account surface, and air transportation options. From the NAVTEQ Press Release:
"We are very excited about the opportunity to help crown an overall global CHAMPION for the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge and I know that the ESNC experts will take their judging task very seriously. They represent a cross-section of well-networked influencers in the satellite navigation industry with a wealth of knowledge in helping smaller companies grow their business," commented Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of ESNC organizer Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen.
The three regional Grand Prize Winners from the 2009 Global LBS Challenge whom will be competing at the ESNC International Evaluation Meeting are:
- skobbler GmbH, Germany - Grand Prize Winner EMEA: skobbler is a mobile application that allows young, urban consumers to share information, personal comments, useful tips and recommendations on places and activities around a city in realtime. The application combines, for example, local search of NAVTEQ dynamic content, such as events or movies, with sponsored advertising links and a full-fledged GPS navigation.
- T+1 Solutions, Estonia - Grand Prize Winner Americas: Taxi4me is a mobile taxi ordering service that helps consumers anywhere in the world connect with trusted taxi companies. The desired time and destination is sent from a user's mobile phone to a taxi brokering server. Local taxi companies then submit competitive bids and proposed routes back to the consumer.
- NAVITIME Japan Co., Ltd. - Grand Prize Winner APAC: NAVITIME is a point-to-point route search and multi-modal navigation service allowing users to get to their destination by any major transportation method - walking, driving, trains and subway, buses, taxis and airlines - and to explore cities visited through NAVTEQ Discover Cities(TM).
August 10, 2009
With the already launched TeleNav, Navigon, and iGo navigation applications for the iPhone, there is bound to be some need for a good mount for the iPhone while driving and navigating. The TomTom solution will offer a mount with integrated charger, but for others there is a need to find an aftermarket source. I have used and reviewed several Arkon mounts in the past for regular GPS mounts, as aftermarket offerings beyond what came with the unit and found them to be very good. One that I did not necessarily like was the one for the vents. I couldn't get a confident mount of the GPS to the vent when I was putting it on, and felt like I might snap vent louver. They offer several for the iPhone to suit your needs, and I would offer the ones other than the vet mount as good places to start your iPhone navigation journey.
At Arkon for the iPhone 3G Generation
August 7, 2009
If you are into keeping track of your runs or rides, you may want to check out MapMyRide or MapMyRun - a website and smart phone application that allows you to map out where you ran or rode, and then upload it to keep track of it and share. The community has a lot of existing rides and runs to share, which makes exploring new areas a lot easier. I like to compare the ides around my area for some new extensions or simply better riding conditions that what I already know. The widget below can get you started on a ride search.
More at MapMyRide.com
August 6, 2009
waze, a community sourced mapping company has launched an iPhone Application, available now in the iTunes store. Not only will they map the roads, but will offer traffic conditions too. I'll have to check it out.
Through a community of drivers, waze harnesses driver-generated data to build road maps and provide real-time traffic information to commuters. Unlike static maps and first-generation traffic networks, waze relies on a community of drivers to both populate the maps and provide daily traffic information. As more and more iPhone users download and use the app, the maps and traffic information will become more robust and accurate over time.
“This is just the start of a crowd-sourced project that will change the way drivers make their daily driving decisions,” said Noam Bardin, the company’s CEO. “Our community of drivers contributes driving information passively via our free mobile application and all members get to enjoy the outcome, namely free turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic information. As in all community applications, the more users drive with our app, the better the map and traffic data become for all. We invite anyone with an iPhone to join the revolution and help us build the world’s largest community of drivers.”
More at waze
ATX will provide new Lexus and Toyota cars with OnStar like services in the coming year, with Navigation Enabled cars getting some extra navigation assistance via the agent and an online portal. What caught my interest, and one of our readers Jim is the potential for these cars to act as GPS probes. With Toyota bumping up against GM as the leader car maker, a new source of GPS probes will be entering the market with full force. The future starts to get a lot brighter for vast amounts of GPS probe data:
- Road sensors cover main interstates but with gaps in service
- Delivery trucks act as GPS probes for major metro areas, covering hundreds of thousands of miles
- GPS and cellular equipped cars like those with the ATX service and OnStar add millions of GPS probes all over the US
- Smart Phones running navigation programs push back traffic data while you use them - Inrix Traffic, and potentially the forthcoming TomTom iPhone App
- Connected GPS units also offer more data, and are the main consumer outlet for traffic information to the consumer
Now one just has to crunch all of that information, overlay it and get it back out to consumers quickly before the data is stale. Not hard is it?
Thanks Jim for sending this in
Press Release on ATX and Toyota/Lexus
Maybe things are better than expected for the economy? Garmin's sales were off 30% vs. year ago, as it's key segments were all down in sales, and its earnings were down 32% to $0.81 per share.... so why the stock jump? Apparently Wall St. consensus was for earnings of $0.51 per share and that's a lot better than expected. The market is still tough, and I am sure that Garmin is working hard to make sure that the promotions go off well, the inventories are managed well and prices are as low as possible to keep the product moving. Wall St. rewarded the over delivery by moving the Garmin stock; it closed at about $27 before the news and opened above $33 after the news.
CEO Min Kao said:
"While the macroeconomic conditions continue to dampen consumer demand, we are encouraged by the 53% sequential improvement in revenues in the second quarter. We are also pleased with the solid margins and earnings in the quarter achieved by the various initiatives that we have taken to improve productivity, reduce expenses and utilize the strength of our balance sheet.
The automotive/mobile segment continued to show sell‐through growth on a unit basis in both the North American and Asian markets and Garmin maintained its strong global market leadership position. The sequential improvement in pricing and margins in the quarter were on target with our expectations entering the quarter. We intend to continue to position ourselves to take advantage of the ongoing demand for portable navigation devices by delivering innovative solutions to the consumer. Our recently introduced 1200, 1300 and 1400 nüvi®series which offer affordable navigation solutions in a sleek form factor with pedestrian capabilities have been well received, and we continue to expand the utility of in‐vehicle navigation through the introduction of our first product designed specifically for the trucking market.
August 4, 2009
The android based MyTouch from T-Mobile is coming out fully supported with the TeleNav Navigator available on day 1 as a free trial. The eagerly anticipated phone is the latest salvo in the hip-cool smartphone wars, and by many accounts, it is a powerful little device. The GPS capability enables the TeleNav Navigator to offer automatic re-routing, Says Street names, voice based destination entry, traffic feeds, and gas prices. One interesting aspect is that the TeleNav service will also coordinate to email you current traffic conditions on set routes at set times so you know what traffic will be like before you head out to work.
The MyTouch from T-Mobile is available tomorrow.
Full TeleNav press release below.
Continue reading: "TeleNav to Debut with T-Mobile MyTouch 3G"
August 3, 2009
Inrix has launched a direct to consumer application for the iPhone that will have you checking what the traffic is like now, and what predicted traffic will be in the near future. The free application allows you to take a look at the high quality traffic feed data in your metro area on the iPhone and then if you want, click on the "Forecast" button to peer into the future to see what's coming. It might just help you solve the "Should I leave now or wait it out?" question.
The interface is clean and comes with incident reporting. The data comes from their broad "Smart Driver Network" or GPS probe vehicles and road sensors. They claim to have the largest crowd sourced network in the world with over 1 million vehicles on it. TomTom just recently tied up with Inrix for work with their LIVE devices (think GO 740 LIVE and/or the coming iPhone application). No word on exactly how and where the data will be used, because TrafficCast is still part of the deal. The iPhone application is interesting and certainly fills the gap that they have in getting their name and high quality data out there. What it may also be coming is the ability for you to become part of the million+ strong army of GPS probes, reporting back to them the traffic status too. Pure speculation, but the ability to ingest the data and process it in a quick fashion to understand the very dynamic traffic situations, make them strong.
at iTunes - Inrix Traffic (iTunes Link)
More at InrixTraffic.com
Garmin is late to the party a lot with product technology leaps, but they sure know how to make an entrance. I suspect that this will again be the case with a strong Garmin Nuvi 1690 that was recently posted to the FCC site. Rich over at GPSTracklog posted this from the FCC website, and this always foretells an imminent launch. The wide-screened Nuvi 1690 will of course come with Bluetooth, that much we know, and a GSM module for connectivity. In the ever expanding Keeping-up-with-the-Jones battle, one would expect a strong traffic capability, internet search, gas price service, and potentially some other features that are rolled into the MSN products - weather, movie times, flight tracking, etc.
Bing? - Maybe Garmin's tie up with Microsoft brings Bing to the connected Search module on the new Garmin 1690, which would present both companies with the opportunity to talk a lot about the product. Only time will tell.
When? - I expect that this could be announced in the coming days to weeks; solidly in time for the recession to end, consumers wade back into the market for a high end device and of course the holiday season.