February 2, 2010

GPS Based Pothole Patrol - Now Crowdsourced

Good little article in the Boston Globe today highlighting an iPhone App that allows users to take a picture of potholes, and other items that have fallen into disrepair and shoot the geoencoded picture over to City Hall. It's called Citizens Connect (iTunes link).

The idea is not new, and several cities have done one, as well as CitySourced, another App with some similar features that spans several cities. In Boston, after the image and details of the problem is received, the message is automatically routed to the local maintenance facility for dispatch. Unlike a kids video game, the crew doesn't shoot out of the garage immediately, but they do get to most issues in a 5-day turn around time.

More at Boston Globe

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 29, 2010

On the iPad - Stupidest Thing to Ever Come out of the NYT?

OK, so I missed on the name - iPad not iTablet, but yes I was excited to see that the new Apple iPad will be running the Navigation Apps that are in the App store. The NYT Blog is asking the question if the iPad - at $800 will be the final nail in the GPS coffin....um, have you checked the weather outside? We're fresh off a recession with the forecast for a slow recovery. Not too many people are going to be buying these things at that price compared with a $100 GPS that works really well. Engaging headline? Yes. Intelligent assertion? No.

Is the standalone GPS future solid for certain or will mobile smart phones take over? Not really sure, but I am pretty certain that an $800 Apple product isn't going to kill the GPS market overnight, or even in a few years; there will be other factors at work that will make the GPS market change dramatically without the influence of the iPad.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

January 26, 2010

Global Shipping Routes Mapped by GPS

Check out Wired to see a map of global shipping routes collected over a year's time and mapped by GPS.

Too bad this isn't mapped onto Google maps with the ability to zoom in on the individual routes. The map isn't detailed enough to plan your pirate attacks, but maybe that's a good thing.

At Wired

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 25, 2010

Nokia Free Navigation on Mobile Too - So What?

Nokia announced on Thursday that they will be offering free navigation capabilities on their smart phones too after the same announcement rocked the GPS standalone world when Google offered their innovative navigation App on Android phones.

"So, What?" you ask. Nokia isn't in the US, Navigation on smart phones stink anyway? this might just be the tipping point for the mobile phone and stand alone GPS world.

Big Share Player Goes to Free Navigation - Nokia has a huge share of the mobile phone market globally, especially in Europe, maybe someone can dig that up and post it below. Google has a reasonable share in the US of the smart phone market and growing fast. Between the two, they will start to rival Apple and the iPhone's share. While Apple isn't known for following, they might just fold in a Navigation program for free to blunt competition's point of differentiation.

Free Navigation? - It costs money to get maps, but you could crowdsource them like WAZE does, or pay for services with ads on the GPS like Garmin does.

Phone Based Navigation Comes of Age - I was impressed and continue to be impressed by the navigation capabilities that can be crammed onto my iPhone. The screen is passable for its size, and the program features surpass entry level devices. With the buildt-in internet connection advanced features can be more easily created. Advanced search, traffic flow data, pre-loaded maps, easy connection to my address book, text to speech? Yes, they are all in there. these aren't the basic days of the early version Verizon VZ Navigator; this is advanced stuff.

Apple Buys a GPS Player? - Maybe this user experience needs to be owned by Apple in order to create a more innovative capability? There are a dozen reasons to think not, but as Apple and Google start to square off, the move might make more and more sense. TomTom? - if the stand alone market is going to die, do you really want a to buy a leader in the space? They might have a lock on a lot of the technologies that are helping build a better GPS: Map provider TeleAtlas, a large installed base of units for historical speed collection, and more importantly the technology to deal with the data. Companies are already collecting GPS probe data from iPhones like Inrix to help create their ever more detailed maps of traffic situations. Apple could buy a well known phone navigation provider that can dovetail well into their system, like TeleNav who also displays the complex innovative technology to fold a lot of into into cars- like on the new Ford Sync platform.

Death of the Stand Alone GPS? - I think not, at least for now. While people are predicting the dire end of the stand alone GPS, I don't see it for a while. So while everyone might jump on the smart phone navigation bandwagon, smart phones still have a low market share in the US; hovering in the 20 - 30% range. So, for about 60+ million US households they aren't even a player. So while smart phone owners may have been early adopters of the $1,000 Nuvi when it was introduced, they have moved on but with the advent of $100 GPS units, a whole new market has developed. Until the smartphone plans are affordable by a majority of the population, the standalone GPS will be around. Now that may only be the next major market shift away, but I expect it's still a ways off from here.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 19, 2010

DeLorme - Free Maps of Haiti to help Aid Workers

DeLorme is offering a helping hand to anyone needing map and navigation help on their way to Haiti. The need is there and it sounds like not only is the company kicking in but the employees worked overtime to get the data ready to ship out to users on their way to do their best to help out where it is really needed. The Maps will work on their PN Series units.

More at DeLorme

Full Information is below.

DeLorme Offers Map Data of Haiti for use with XMap® Software and Earthmate® GPS to Assist in Earthquake Relief Efforts

Company Provides Free Dataset for Use with XMap Software and DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 Handheld GPS DeLorme, the leading digital mapping, software, and GPS provider, has developed a free GPS-accurate dataset to assist in the Haitian relief efforts.

The company was contacted by numerous aid groups following the earthquake. A team of employees worked through the past weekend preparing a custom dataset utilizing the GPS-accurate DeLorme World Base Map along with aerial imagery, all of which can be displayed within the company's XMap software and on Earthmate PN-Series handheld GPS units.

"We are eager to spread the word to anyone who is involved with relief efforts in Haiti that we have this GPS-accurate dataset available for their use," says Jim Skillings, DeLorme Vice President. "Time is of the essence as we believe that GPS-accurate map data can help save lives."

The DeLorme map data provides GPS-accurate transportation infrastructure down to the street level, as well as accurate coastline and hydrographic details. Used in tandem with DeLorme PN-Series GPS and XMap software, search-and-rescue responders will have an invaluable tool on the ground.

Anyone with an interest or looking for more information should go to www.delorme.com

DeLorme representatives will provide immediate follow-up to inquiries from federal agencies and volunteers assisting in the relief efforts.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 11, 2010

More GPS Satellites; Better GPS Accuracy

Want a more accurate GPS? You might already have it in your hand. The Air force, and specifically the STRATCOM group who has responsibility for administering the GPS satellite constellation has decided to start to rearrange the constellation to improve coverage over Afghanistan while also giving "enhanced capability to all GPS users".

The existing new satellites are positioned near the old satellites to provide better redundancy, but instead the plan is to spread those satellites out to make the overall enhancements. The plan should take about 24 months to execute and will factor in the overall health of each satellite. But over the coming 24 months, you should be able to "see" more satellites from wherever you are, meaning your receiver should get better accuracy, and potentially a shorter time to first fix if you've been having trouble grabbing multiple satellite signals to date.

More Info at the Air Force News Site

Rob, Thanks for sending this in.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 5, 2010

DeLorme Teams up with SPOT - Transmit Messeges from your Handheld GPS

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."

Full Press Release Below.....

ArrowContinue reading: "DeLorme Teams up with SPOT - Transmit Messeges from your Handheld GPS"

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December 30, 2009

Top Stories and Top 5 Reviews for 2009 at GPS Lodge

As the year comes to a close, I thought I would wrap it up with the most popular stories that you clicked on in the last year. The year was driven by a lot of deals, and interest in some of the well built, lower priced GPS units that graced the store shelves - virtual or not.

  • Garmin Nuvi 780 - this Nuvi was on special a lot this year, giving the user access to traffic reports, gas prices, local events, weather and more through the MSN service. The unit is solid, but the MSN service is scheduled to go away Jan 1, 2012 - still a while to go. See my full review of the Nuvi 780
  • Garmin Nuvi 755T - the traffic enabled Nuvi 755T is a next generation device offering free subscription to NAVTEQ traffic through an ad supported model. Concerned with intrusive ads? Don't be, the ads are really minor and area a small trade-off for the free service. The Nuvi 755T offers a lot with an improved interface, faster route calculations, Nuvi-optimized multi-destination routing (say that 10 time fast!), and a speed limit indicator right on the screen. See my full review of the Nuvi 755T
  • Garmin Nuvi 205W/255W - a strong contender throughout the year as these units bring solid features to the market at a reasonable price. Widescreen and for the 255W, test to speech capabilities make this a very broadly appealing feature set for the market. I bought a couple of these this year for myself and for presents. See my full review of the Garmin Nuvi 205W/255W
  • TomTom 330/330S - the Holiday rainmaker GPS - plenty of sales made this a strong contender at the end of the year. The widescreen units offered users a great set of features at some unbelievable prices. Still a solid choice, especially if you pick the "S" model which has text to speech. See my full review of the TomTom 330/330S
  • Garmin Nuvi 205/255 - the standard sized screen entry level units that get user to their location with ease and confidence. The Nuvi 255 adds maps of Canada and Hawaii/Puerto Rico. See my full review of the Nuvi 205/255

In retrospect, 2009 was also the year when a few other major trends hit the navigation market. While they weren't the top news stories by page view counts, I think these really are the top items that hit the market this year and will continue to affect the market as we move forward.

  • iPhone Navigation Applications - Becoming some of the top grossing Apps in the App Store, the iPhone/iPod Touch navigation apps are really very usable and great to have along with you when you travel. There is a value in having navigation capability with you all of the time. I have pulled out the iPhone and navigated several times when riding with others; always wows the audience and always performs well. I have reviewed the TomTom App, and am in the middle of reviewing the Navigon App right now. With a half dozen of these on the market, and more coming, they are coming faster than I can keep up with.
  • Google Navigation - the Free application for Android is sure to change the market. Google usually goes big, and is not afraid to take on big markets. To me, Google appears to be headed in the direction of helping you search for anything in your life. The application offers a lot of cool capabilities that only Google can offer at this point. They are buying Yelp - the search for all kinds of Points of Interest, especially through their augmented reality browser. Google gets into Navigation on the Mobile Phone
  • Connected GPS - So, finally Garmin launched theirs, Dash left the market/got sold, Telenav launched their Shotgun connected GPS, and TomTom launched a follow-up to their original 740 Live. If the recession didn't come, and unemployment didn't hit 10% in the US, maybe these would have had a better reception. The problem is that things like the iPhone have set the bar pretty high for connectedness and capabilities, so getting movie times through the GPS isn't all that awesome anymore. Can you please make this ad supported to make it a free service? What these need to do is nail traffic for users; I mean really nail it with surface road traffic integration and smart forecasting. Maybe for 2010, please?

It's not a surprise that all of these biggie ideas are connected ideas; it's where the world is going and it's where the GPS needs to go to be more useful.

With CES 2010 right around the corner, I have to think that there are a few innovations that are going to find their way to the mainstream, and features that make navigating a lot easier.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 29, 2009

Rand McNally Truck GPS Wins CES 2010 Award - the Intelliguide TND


Rand McNally is a household name that most will associate with maps and few with a GPS. So while their GPS Page still has Garmin units for sale, they have been awarded an innovation award at the CES 2010 show for their Intelliroute TND (Truck Navigation Device) - designed by truckers for truckers. The list of truck specific features seems well thought out, and include:

  • Truck Specific routing where you input your truck dimensions, its weight and get out shortest time, distance and avoiding tolls.
  • Truck Specific Info - like truck speed limits and restrictions. They claim superior coverage and data to make a better more informed route.
  • Louder Speakers to overcome cab noise
  • Large 5-inch screen for easy viewing

More information at Rand McNally on the IntelliRoute TND   

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 24, 2009

Beat the Traffic for Thanksgiving

Still plenty of time to prepare for what some are saying will be the worst car traffic jams in a long with this Thanksgiving, starting Wednesday and stretching into Thursday. The down economy is keeping pursestrings tight, and more people are traveling by car, creating a firestorm of potential accidents, traffic jams and lost time. There are plenty of GPS solutions to the problem, and some non-GPS solutions to the problem, here are a few ideas:

Travel in "Off Peak Times" - Traffic leader Inrix predicts that traveling either Wednesday morning or Thursday morning will be a good strategy to beat the traffic - no GPS needed for this one.

Use Websites to research -

  • While Google won't tell you how long the traffic jam will hurt you, it will help predict in the future what traffic will be like. Use Google Maps to search for your area, then click on Traffic and see the live conditions. Unfortunately it looks like Google Maps isn't yet incorporating the holiday week traffic into its prediction engine; net Thursday and Friday look like a regular rush hour drive; whoops!
  • Traffic.com - plug in your start and destination and you will get a custom set of directions, including the "Fastest Now" and the "Direct Drive" which may include some traffic delays that they will spell out for you. You can also access their free mobile site; http://mobi.traffic.com from the road.

Mobile Phone Solutions - You don't need an iPhone to get a mobile phone solution that has traffic; you do need a more advanced phone though:

  • Telenav Navigator - available for many Black Berry units, and others, the inexpensive navigation service offers you live traffic updates, and will help re-route you. For $9.99 a month, this is inexpensive. You like it keep it, you don't, cancel. More at Telenav on supported devices
  • Verizon's VZ Navigator - offers traffic also, same $9.99 a month. At Verizon

iPhone Solutions - Navigation Apps

  • Navigon App for North America icon- for an extra $15 you can get live traffic added to the App. So, the App is $20 off, and the traffic is $10 off right now through 11/30, which will bring you under $100 for that iPhone App you've been wanting anyway..... Their traffic is based on the Inrix data feed.
  • AT&T Navigation App - is free but the monthly service costs $9.99 - it's a Telenav product.

iPhone Traffic Solutions

  • Inrix Traffic! - Offers a point of view of what's happening now and a glimpse into the future with a traffic prediction. - Free
  • Traffic.com - Offers a view into traffic, with some functionality coming over from their website. - Free
  • I happen to like Inrix's App better, but take them both; they're free and don't take up that much space

  • A-ha - An interesting look at the traffic interface - no maps, just shout outs about traffic issues in your area. Worth bringing, but offers a disadvantage if you are not totally familiar with the area as you may have trouble understanding where a traffic jam is just from the audible alert. - Free
Good Luck and safe travels......
Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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