Here's a great contest going on in the UK; Nestle has recreated a Willy Wonka-like Golden Ticket type promotion where once you open a winning bar, their team will find you and hand you a 10,000 GBP check. The winning bars has a GPS chip and a transceiver in them, which activates when you open the winning candy bar.
Came across this and thought that it might show off how SPOT trackers can help get the word out to friends, family and the world about where you are and what you're up to.
This trip happens to be on a lawn chair rig, by two men, one American and one Iraqi who decided to take a trip out of Oregon today. The Trip is expected to take them out of Oregon and into Idaho. With hundreds of 5-foot helium filled balloons, some ballast, a BB-gun and a SPOT tracker on board, the trip looks like it's going well. It's not the first time he's taken a lawn chair Balloon trip, and let's hope its not the last.
It appears that some heavyweights came to the party and shut it down for Lightsquared. The FCC is seeking comment on revolving Lightsquared's permit to broadcast on spectrum that is adjacent to the GPS spectrum, and interferes with GPS receivers. I've written up some thoughts on the subject, and it seems that while Lightsquared is right; the GPS receivers "listen" to waves outside their spectrum, it seems like the government just can't let a newbie start-up ruin a good thing.
Lightsquared has reportedly spent over $3Billion on a terrestrial and satellite network to beam high speed internet around the country. The issue is that it interferes with the GPS receivers due to the proximity of its frequency to the GPS band. So while your fitness watch may not work perfectly, and that might be terrible for you, it might be outweighed by the fact that people across the country can not get wireless internet…. but the issues magnitude starts to present itself when you consider that the economy is starting to function on location services, just as much as it started to function on the internet a decade ago. The real problem starts to come into focus as you consider that the FAA just got a boost to speed the switch to airplane routing on GPS. Would you really want an airliner to be blacked out so Lightsquared can provide high speed internet access?
The issue lies in the fact that Lightsquared has a strong signal adjacent to the GPS band and that some GPS receivers listen to frequencies outside of the GPS band, and in the satellite band. Lightsquared considers these faulty receivers, and they may have a point. This past week, Lightsquared asked for a standard to be set for GPS receivers, which may be a slow process, and eventually end up in a place where legacy GPS receivers will cease to work properly in the future.
The battle lines are drawn, and on one side you have millions of deployed and commercially important GPS receivers, whose performance affects a majority of the population while on the other side, you have a company who has billions of dollars invested, a pile of legal rights and most likely a short fuse on getting their investment working. Stay tuned.
Interesting article in the NYTimes today that walks through how people use their own mental maps to find their way, building up their sense of direction as they continue to expand and experiment. The problem with using a GPS is that you can end up shutting off this learning process by blindly following what the GPS tells you.
There are plenty of stories of GPS experiences gone bad, where users do in fact check their brains at the curb and drive off blindly following the GPS, and while some of the stories are the extreme, I have to think that most people do in fact blindly follow the GPS at some point of the journey.
That freedom can give you confidence to explore the world a bit knowing that you can almost always find your way. I like that aspect, but yes, if it is at the sacrifice of learning, that's not always a great trade-off. The trick may be how to have the confidence to explore while also learning your way around.
The Supreme Court submitted a unanimous decision today rejecting the premise that putting a GPS tracker on someone's car doesn't require a court warrant. They feel it does. Drug dealers offer a sigh of relief, until the courts step in and signs that warrant, then it's back to the investigation.
While the little black box attached to the underside of a car is in question, it also brings into question the use of onboard GPS data tracking too - How about access to your OnStar tracks - yea, that would need a warrant. (BTW, just because you didn't pay your subscription, don't think that they can't track you. They can.)
Lightsquared was dealt a setback again this week as a government advisory board sent a letter to the Commerce Department indicating that the Lightsquared plans for nationwide high speed wireless broadband would significantly interfere with the GPS system and saw no easy way to fix the problems.
The group based these conclusions on separate tests by the FAA, the group concluded that the original and even the altered plans by Lightsquared would "cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers."
I don't know about you, but the Allstate Ad campaign has been a joy to watch; it's creative, and while not all versions are great, a vast majority of them are. Actor Dean Winters (Johnny Gavin for you Rescue Me fans) stars in the ads and plays the very believable character "Mayhem" who brings chaos to your life as an insurance customer. They've put together a bunch of these, and this is one of my favorites - a GPS based ad.
If you're new to GPS, the scenrio isn't all that foreign. Here are a few tips to being safe with your GPS:
Don't type and drive - take your eyes off the road for only 15 seconds and you've gone about a quarter of a mile at highway speeds. Do you really want to do that?
Pre-plan the route and look at the route overview - This always grounds me in what the GPS is going to do so it doesn't surprise me with a random turn.
Pay Attention to the "Turn Right in X Miles" line or icon on your GPS - this lets you keep track in the back of your mind where you are and when you need to turn. The GPS' pre-turn prompt a mile or two ahead of time will clue you into your upcoming turn. Start looking for it in the real world.
Interesting article in the WSJ this morning about driver distraction, and how auto manufacturers are trying to combat distraction while making their vehicles more feature laden at the same time. The struggle is tough; in an age of connectedness, people demand more, but the costs can be high, as thousands of people die each year in the US due to driver distraction.
This past summer, David Strickland, of the Department of transportation clarified his role when speaking to a group at a Telematics conference, "I am not here to help you Tweet better, I am not here to help people post on Facebook better. It's not my job." He went on to explain how the Department of Transportation will be clarifying the rule making process that is moving through its paces.
15 Seconds.... How long is That?
Auto makers have adopted a guideline that it should take no more than 15 seconds to accomplish a task while driving. With the advent of in-dash systems, especially navigation, it might take at least 15 seconds to accomplish a destination entry. Natural voice recognition systems are on their way to most vehicles to help solve the issue. While 15 seconds might not seem like a lot of time normally, that's over a quarter of a mile at highway speeds.
Ford learned recently with their rollout of the My ford Touch system that not only is distraction an issue, but so is quality and customer satisfaction. If people can't use the system, they won't rate you high for satisfaction, and the perception might be that the system is broken, leading to lower quality scores. They said in the article that they are moving their touchscreen radio system from 5 font sizes to two in an attempt to be easier to see and use.
Chrysler came out on top for JD Power ratings of navigation systems on its Dodge Charger. Why? It's familiar, well laid out, well tested, and it's powered by Garmin. The interface is simple, well known and familiar.
Take a read, and see what you think. Will voice recognition systems at the quality level of Siri help reduce the issue, or are we damned to a world where the ever expanding list of features runs faster than the ease of use quality can go?
DeLorme's InReach was just given the Gear of the Year honors by Mens Journal who reportedly scours the globe for "the coolest gadgets, the most tech savvy active wear and the all-around best gear out there for the active, accomplished man." Not sure If I search for things for the accomplished man, but it's pretty plain to anyone that the InReach has some distinctive capabilities that are pretty useful.
How about being able to send messages back and forth via SMS from anywhere in the world? Automatic updates from far afield to keep your loyal following updated? Yea, the InReach, when paired with a Delorme GPS can do that because it communicates over the Iridium satellite network.
The inReach has received numerous other prestigious accolades, including a 2011 Popular Science Best of What's New selection, 2012 CES Innovations honors, a National Geographic Adventure Gear of the Year award, and Outside Magazine Gear of the Show and GearJunkie.com Best of Show awards from the industry-leading Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show.
To those in the GPS community, Lightsquared and their potential interference with GPS receivers is pretty well understood, but for many, the story is just starting to gain some momentum. There is new information out on the proposed Lightsquared wireless internet service that operates in a spectrum close to the GPS frequency that shows that 75% of GPS receivers tested are affected by the Lightsquared system. That's bad news for people who use a GPS in their phone for location services, and in their navigation device for directions. With the GPS receiver becoming ubiquitous as smartphones take over the world, the Lightsquared service looks like it could cause broadscale issues.
This testing, conducted by the US Government, was done at a higher power, and Lightsquared expects that the propsed lower power operating protocol will "only" harm 10% of GPS receivers within 100 yards of a Lightsquared base station. With 40,000 base stations planned, that's a lot of area; about 100 square miles of affected area where 10% of you will lose the ability to operate your GPS correctly. Ouch.
DeLorme has won another accolade for its InReach satellite communicator, the InReach two way GPS communicator. This is the piece of equipment that connects you no matter where on Earth you are. It works be sending text messages up to the Iridium satellites and also receives them back. The system also allows you to broadcast your remote location and send SOS signals.
The latest honors are from Popular Science, who named it as one of the many cool things that hit the market this year in their "Best of What's New" awards.
The unit can be paired with an Android phone or a DeLorme PN-60W GPS. Cost of the INReach is $249.
Apple's "Find My iPhone" feature is available to help find your phone (or not) if you lose it, or maybe if someone snags your newest iPhone 5 prototype at a bar near San Francisco. The feature turns the phone into a small broadcasting beacon that sends back its location from the internal GPS sensor. Superimposed on a map, the feature can be pretty good at helping you find that lost phone.
In Chille, one passenger on a plane was carrying their iPhone, and when officials had trouble locating the wreckage, a relative pulled up the Find My iPhone feature to locate it. Sadly while they found the wreckage, they did not find any survivors.
DeLorme's soon-to-be-released communicator to the stars won best in show type awards from both Outside Magazine and GearJunkie.com at the recent Outdoor Retailer Show in August. The InReach communicator allows users of certain DeLorme GPS devices to communicate with friends and family (two-way communication) over the Iridium Satellite communication network. This allows you to send and received messages, and send tracking information over the Iridium network's "pole to pole global" footprint. Yes, with an "SOS" button, you can also reach out for help.
The InReach can also be paired (via Bluetooth) with an Android phone to allow its user to send and receive 160 character messages, including Facebook and Twitter updates. Go ahead and laugh, but an increasing number of long range and remote trips are putting up web pages, and offer tracking of progress in real-time. No doubt they are packing a solar charger to keep their mobile tech empires at the ready.
Expect this little piece of amazingness to be available in mid-October. for more information see DeLorme's InReach page.