May 4, 2009

Study: GPS Saves Miles and Gas

If you have been waiting to get a GPS, wait no longer, because NAVTEQ recently released results from a study it commissioned to understand the effects of using GPS navigation on miles driven and the overall effect on fuel efficiency. The study was conducted in Germany, among people who had not previously owned a GPS, and attached a data logger to their cars to capture trip distances, times, speed, etc. The study had three groups of users, 1) Drivers without a GPS navigation system (the control group), 2) Drivers with a GPS, and 3) Drivers with a GPS that is traffic enabled. The findings are pretty cool:

  1. Drivers with a GPS drove about 1,500 miles less per year that drivers without a GPS when you annualize the data.
  2. Drivers with a GPS get better fuel efficiency; about 12% better.
  3. Drivers reduced their trip times increased over time as drivers learned how to better use the GPS. The trip distance savings increased for non-standard trips, which I would imagine are those trips where you are not as sure of the route.
  4. Drivers who had the traffic feature had shorter trips during what would be considered Rush hours.

So, while the savings figures below are for a Euro driver where gas is higher per gallon than the US, I calculated a few figures for the US that might illustrate what a US driver might experience if the 12% increase in fuel efficiency held true as well as the 1,500 mile reduction in annual miles driven.

Savings for a Typical US Driver
Assuming a 22 MPG average in the US for the passenger car fleet, a 12% increase would represent 24.6 MPG. If you drove 15,000 miles originally, it would take 681 gallons of gas, or about $1,396 at the US average price of $2.05/gallon. With the GPS, you would drive 12,500 miles at 24.6 MPG, and you would use 508 gallons of gas totaling $1,041 per year at $2.05/gallon. A savings of $354.

If you up the quality of the systems used, I would imagine you would get better results. If you want to get better at driving more economically, try out the ecoRoute capabilities on your Garmin GPS. It's free with all new Nuvi's and is a free download for all Nuvi 205 and 705 series units.

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April 23, 2009

GPS Navigation as a Metaphor


I have seen a lot of Fidelity ads lately and it struck me that we have entered another era of acceptance of the GPS. When I started this Blog, not a lot of people knew what a GPS was, let alone want to shell out several hundred dollars for one (recall the first Nuvi, the first flat GPS had a list price of $900+).

The first turn for me was when GPS units were actually on the first page of the circulars for Black Friday - something a lot of people wanted and that would bring the crowds in. That happened in 2007. With this new campaign from Fidelity that uses a navigation icon that is most similar to a Navigon interface, I think that they realize that everyone in their target audience gets the idea of setting the right direction and letting Fidelity navigate you there. Four years ago, the metaphor would have been missed, today it is second nature. Wonder where we'll be in four years.

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

April 22, 2009

Recycle your Old GPS - BestBuy, RadioShack and NextWorth

Recycle GPS UnitsLet's face it, these things don't last forever, and if you are like me, the pie of old electronics is stacking up in the closet. Recently I have seen a lot of movement in the recycling area for electronics, including GPS units so I thought I would pass some ideas along. So, hey, It's Earth Day why not dig those old electronics out of the closet and make a difference.

BestBuy - No charge for most electronics, buy laptops, TVs and monitors under 32" require a $10 fee, but you also get a $10 Gift Card in return. Short list of things they don't take at their Recycling Page

RadioShack - More of a trade-in program that offers you money in the form of a Radio Shack gift card in return for your gently used electronics. You input your unit's model number, answer a few questions on its condition and get an appraisal. I ran a Nuvi 350 through in good condition and it was worth about $28. Not a lot, but better than nothing. Free shipping too. See their Trade in program page for more details.

NextWorth - This website will appraise your electronics, and once cleared and checked out, will send you a gift card to either or Target or a check or cash via PayPal. I checked out the same Nuvi 350 and they offered $36, which at the end of the check-in screens, they offer a rpe-paid shipping label to slap on your stuff and send it off. They just started doing GPS units, so to me, this looks like a great deal compared to the other ones. 1) They pay you, 2) You are not limited to credit at one store and 3) seems pretty easy to do with pre-paid mailing labels. Check Out NextWorth at their website

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

April 15, 2009

Dale Earnhardt Jr GPS

Rightway GPS has announced a Dale Earnhardt Jr GPS called the Spotter, complete with Dale Jr's voice or many of the messages you'll be hearing driving down your little piece of racetrack. The unit does have text to speech so it will say street names, presumably in a computer's voice.

Pre-sale at their website now for $229. Can't vouch for the quality here though.....


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April 13, 2009

Aptera - 100+ Mile per Charge - And a cool GPS to boot!

The Aptera is making its rounds as a three wheeled "car" that offers an outrageously aerodynamic shape, and gets about 100 miles per charge. The new aerodynamic shape makes it slip through the air without a lot of energy consumption.

What I thought was cool was it's navigation system shown here in the middle of the shot; tap on past destinations to add them to the route and let it optimize the route for you. The nav system is connected via GSM and allows you to "dump your Google calendar" down to the vehicle. Now you're talking... what else?

Via Wired

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April 8, 2009

Guided Audio Tour for your GPS


Came across this interesting feature the other day in the Boston Globe and thought I would pass it on. Sure there are businesses doing this kind of stuff, but I thought that it was unusual for a local newspaper to offer an audio guided road tour via GPS.

The tour covers some of the north shore of Massachusetts, and can be downloaded to a Garmin or a TomTom as long as they have the ability to playback the audio (Most TomTom's and Garmin's with MP3 capability). The tour takes you on a navigation trip through several seaside towns along the north shore offering a little history lesson as you go.

The tour is actually hosted by Geovative solutions, which offers numerous tours around the globe for GPS units. They offer the ability for you to create your own tour, upload it and share it with the world; all for free. They also offer premium content for a fee, sometimes only a $1.99.

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April 6, 2009

Sony Launches HDR-TG5V HD Camcorder with GPS

The new Sony HDR-TG5V HD camcorder has a built in GPS receiver that allows you to geotag your photos and movies so that you can not only see where you took them, but share the location information with others when you share the movies. The camera also knows what time zone you are in an automatically sets the clock to your location. The camera is loaded with NAVTEQ maps and will display your location on the camera's screen.

At SonyStyle

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March 16, 2009

Follow the Iditarod Racers via GPS

One of the better uses for GPS tracking that I wanted to quickly pass along - This year the racers of the Iditarod are being tracked by GPS, which allow those fans who want to pony up the $20 to be an insider, to view the up to the minute standings of where their favorite racer is on the 1100+ mile race course. The mushers get a tracker that is updated at check points allowing those of us on the outside world to see their location. Pretty cool.

At the Official Iditarod site

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February 24, 2009

GPS-Monitored Car Based Fees

With President Obama's transportation secretary LaHood hinting at a mile based usage fees in the recent days, there will continue to be focus put on the subject. The idea is not new and it has several studies and tests going on globally, with a few right here in the US.

The idea is to monitor road usage via GPS, and institute a time of day based variable fee. Peak times get higher fee rates, while off-peak hours get lower fee rates.

According to this article at a Euro blog, Inside GNSS a test in the US was successful at reducing congestion on the roads and reduced overall mileage driven. The savings is big for governments alike, who would not have to invest in new roads to handle the ever-increasing congestion. My hunch is that the fees would be pretty attractive and addictive, while the savings in congestion would be temporary until you achieved steady state again and started to climb as the overall system get acquainted with the new costs of doing business. For commuters who head to a job, there may not be a lot of flexibility to target the lower fee rates, but there may be the ability to lower the impact; I'd try to work from home one more day a week. Tough to do if you are a construction worker - and someone who isn't exactly in the best position to absorb more taxes.

Governments would have a hard time moving to this system alone, and leaving a gas tax behind, as the gas tax is a significant tool to impart the will of a "greener than thou" government will, on its constituents. I happen to think reduced gas consumption is a good thing, and I think low gas prices is just not where we need to be long term with the current global challenges. In my mind leaving a gas tax behind is sending the wrong message.

My hunch is that we'll see a combination of systems in the coming years. More on this at the upcoming symposium on Mileage based user fees at the Texas Transportation institute.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

February 17, 2009

Nokia 6710 - Big Plans in the Navigation Market

Nokia has released the Nokia 6710, and is talking about its navigation capabilities as a primary feature of the unit, as they leverage their NAVTEQ map investment that they made to buy the mapping company. Nokia already "got it" from a location aware and location based services standpoint, which undoubtedly pushed them into the purchase, but we now have the push into navigation handsets like never before; consumers want it and the technology is more than capable to deliver.

With automotive and pedestrian modes combined with the advanced map content like aerial photos, 3-D buildings and traffic alerts, the unit gets pretty appealing. The 6710 Navigation unit has a 2.6-inch screen (small compared to the 3.5-inch standard GPS unit), outdoor optimized QVGA screen, runs on the 3G/GSM and features A-GPS to get faster satellite fixes.

Via Engadget and Nokia Press Release

Full Press Release Below....

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