TomTom announced that they will include lifetime map updates on a range of GPS models that are coming in 2010. That's the good news; we'll see what the price is, or which models it is incorporated into. I expect these models to be announced as a part of CeBit.
Map updates are consistently one of the things that I hear frustrates readers, and it's not surprising that TomTom is seeking to address the pain. Of course people want their maps magically updated while the unit sits in the glove compartment, but that technology hasn't been invented quite yet; you will have to connect to TomTom Home from your computer to download the updates if you want them. The updates are from TomTom's mapping company, TeleAtlas, and is a sure sign of them leveraging their own map company. The updates are officially released quarterly.
TomTom announced that they plan to offer Lifetime Traffic updates in 2010 on their devices through a traffic receiver that is designed into the cord; nice to have it a part of the cord instead of a separate set of cables.
"Traffic is one of the most common inconveniences every driver experiences," said Jocelyn Vigreux, president of TomTom Inc. "Now, using Lifetime Traffic Updates, TomTom users can always travel confidently knowing they will be alerted to the most current traffic information."
"Users will receive traffic updates through a traffic receiver that is innovatively designed into the device's power cord. By simply connecting the TomTom device to the power cord, users will be automatically alerted to traffic situations en route, such as traffic jams or accident delays."
I would expect a new set of units to be announced as a part of CeBit in March, and this traffic feature will most likely an optional add-on for "T" models with Traffic; no I certainly don't expect this premium service to be free.
TomTom announced the TomTom Ease entry level GPS at CES, with a reasonable set of features, keeping it very competitive in its class. The TomTom Ease will have:
MapShare - TomTom's system for user fixes to maps
Easy Port - a compact and quick mounting system
Text to Speech - it says street names
Help Me Menu - quick access to information that you may need in an emergency
Standard size 3.5-inch screen and maps of the US
"The TomTom EASE combines quality, simplicity and style into one compact device," said Jocelyn Vigreux, president of TomTom Inc. "It's an obvious choice for drivers who want an affordable, easy to use portable navigation device with the most innovative map and routing technologies available."
Inrix upped their game again as they continue to power the new Ford Sync platform with their improved traffic flow coverage and accuracy. The big news here is that the coverage now accurately hits secondary roads with flow data, giving you the coverage you need on alternate routes when the highways are clogged.
"While other companies treat arterials and city streets just like stretches of uninterrupted highway, we factor in the impact traffic lights, stop signs, curb cuts and other traffic control tools have on traffic speeds to provide a significantly more accurate snapshot of real-time traffic conditions and congestion on these roads," said Senior Director of Product Management Ken Kranseler.
The cool techno-nerdy news here is that they continue to expand their capabilities through realtime reporting via GPS probes; sure they have trucks and fleet vehicles that got it all started, but increasingly the use of their iPhone Based Inrix Traffic App turns your phone into an anonymous probe for the greater good of reporting more accurate road conditions. they are claiming over 1.5million GPS enabled vehicles and devices as their feed into their Smart Driver Network, which is up dramatically from the 625,000 Vehicles that they were claiming just a short 2+ years ago.
Inrix announced that they are powering the connected traffic systems on the new Ford Sync platform with an improved system of roadways and realtime traffic capabilities. Reported separately, the improvement adds over 100,000 miles of flow data to the available roadways; giving Inrix and Ford a powerhouse of over 260,000 miles of flow data - not just incident data. So that means that they can paint the roadways Red, Yellow, Green to indicate how fast the roadway is flowing. The higher degree of accuracy, and the broader coverage means that users of the Ford system will not only know how things are doing on the highways but also on more and more secondary roadways; yea, the ones you want to use when the highways are clogged.
Ford announced along with TeleNav that the familiar mobile phone navigation provider is going to power the new Ford Sync navigation system - an impressive win for the company. The sync system has received loads of accolades for its voice command system that allows users to answer their phones and pull up music. The system will now also include GPS navigation on an 8-inch screen. The Sync navigation system will have on-board maps and off-board connected capabilities including traffic updates from Inrix (see the separate announcement on this), as well as POI updates. The maps are SD card-based, and are therefore easily updated. Check out the detail on the POI screen below - loads of information potentially too much, but you have to appreciate the restaurant reviews and hours of operation along with the phone number. Good thing it's on the huge 8-inch screen.
"With SYNC at the forefront of in-vehicle technology, Ford has redefined the automotive industry once again," said HP Jin, president, CEO and co-founder of TeleNav. "Whether customers are looking for a nearby Italian restaurant or directions to a friend's house, MyFord Touch and SYNC provide an in-vehicle system that has the benefits of a traditional navigation system but with the added feature of access to the latest and most updated information via a wireless connection."
Inrix announced a major iPhone App innovation today at CES, allowing users to see when the optimum time is to leave in order to arrive at their destination as expected and on time. The App brings together their knowhow and ability to predict traffic based on historical information, expected events today (i.e. sports game or concert, or bad weather), and your route options to predict in 15 minute increments what your drive time will be. By saving popular routes, you will have the opportunity to see expected road conditions with just a few taps. Got a favorite route? Drive it, record it and keep it in the Inrix Traffic Pro program for future use.
The application will be available for $9.99 as a single year subscription and $25 for a lifetime subscription to the services. If I am not mistaken, this is the first direct to consumer product for Inrix where there is a revenue stream for them.
Garmin must have had a decent reception to the ecoRoute, and already laid plans for the implementation of a more powerful, accurate system that plugs into your car to read its onboard computer. The ecoRoute HD plugs into your car's data port (betchya didn't know that most newer cars have them) then wirelessly transmits the data stream to compatible Garmin Nuvi units to give you insight into your green driving habits, engine loads, and engine error codes.
The cost is $149, but I am not sure the average guy is going to save that much gas by changing your driving habits. The whole thing has to appeal to the inner data geek (like me), to compile reams of information that is casually interesting to pretty much any other data geek.
Garmin announced the Garmin Approach G3, a less expensive, very capable golf GPS that comes pre-loaded with over 12,000 golf courses - see a list of US courses. The Approach G3 smaller unit (2.6-inch screen) than its sibling the Approach G5, which has a 3.0-inch screen. The courses come pre-loaded, and don't require a subscription. the detailed course maps give you a read on the hole, and distance to hazards, greens and holes.
So DeLorme has teamed up with SPOT to offer a combination product that will allow you to do all the cool GPS stuff wherever you are and then transmit SMS messages from that location through the satellite network. Impressive capabilities and love the remote messaging no mater where you are - yes even out of cellphone range; it doesn't work on a mobile phone network. So when your Droid or iPhone doesn't have a signal and that cool App doesn't work, nor does the call for help, this product can.
"The revolutionary SPOT Satellite Communicator, designed exclusively for the new PN-60w, merges SPOT satellite message functionality and DeLorme state-of-the-art GPS mapping via wireless. Together, this product pairing offers broader messaging capabilities. Users can send freeform text messages using the PN-60w's keyboard to select individuals or groups from the field even from remote areas world-wide. "
Established SPOT technology allows real-time location updates and the ability to summon help in an emergency. Custom messages and waypoints can easily be shared with social networking sites like SPOTadventures.com, Geo-caching.com, Twitter, and Facebook. As an emergency back-up, the SPOT Satellite Communicator has stand-alone capability to send location-based SOS notification to an emergency response center.
"Today's announcement combines the latest in sophisticated handheld GPS with SPOT satellite communications providing one-of-a-kind, custom messaging and sharing of geo-location information with others in real-time," said Peter Dalton, President of Spot LLC and CEO of Globalstar Inc. "We are excited to partner with DeLorme in bringing to market a new wireless GPS solution to consumers."