Navigon has an iPhone GPS app on the way

Posted in Apple, Apps, Navigon on June 9th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

GPS maker Navigon has announced it will release an iPhone version of its MobileNavigator software later this month after the iPhone 3.0 operating system is released.  Like TomTom’s newly announced navigation app, Navigon’s paid iPhone app provides turn-by-turn directions, but will also provide some of its proprietary features such as Reality View, Lane Assist and speed camera notifications.

Users will be able to simultaneously navigate and listen to music in their iPhone’s library, plot routes to contact addresses and automatically resume navigation after taking a phone call.

Navigon hasn’t announced how much its paid app will cost, but it will also offer a free Lite version that simply provides map and POI search without real-time navigation.  The company also hasn’t given any indication as to if it’ll release a dash or windshield mounting accessory like TomTom, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

iriver announces NV Classic PMP/PND combo

Posted in GPS Manufacturers, Other Devices on June 9th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

We all know that Clarion hasn’t had much success with the mobile computer/portable navigation device combination, but iriver is trying the same thing in a different market with the announcement of its NV Classic portable media player.  With a 7-inch 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen and a “Magazine” user interface, the NV Classic provides portable media playback, complete with a DMB digital TV and radio tuner, and playback for all the popular audio and video codecs.

And the NV Classic, which sports dimensions of 181 x 120 x 21.5 millimeters, acts as an in-car GPS device as well.  Two SDHC card slots are embedded in the device, one of which supports the mapping card, while the other supplies 4 GB of storage space for your media.

Including twin 1.5 Watt speakers and a car kit, the iriver NV Classic will cost the equivalent of $264 when it ships in Korea later this year.


Verizon’s HTC Touch Pro GPS finally unlocked

Posted in HTC, Mobile on June 9th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Verizon had promised last year that it would enable the use of GPS on select Windows Mobile phones in 2009, and today it announced that its firmware version 1.08 update for the HTC Touch Pro will indeed allow GPS.  It doesn’t appear it’ll be able to be used completely indiscriminately though. From what PhoneNews is reporting that it has tested the GPS with Google Maps and Windows Live Search for Mobile and it works well, though it also works with all Windows Mobile GPS apps.

The update will also provide visual voicemail (for $3 per month) and EVRC-B voice calling codec support.  The latter is part of Qualcomm’s fourth generation voice codecs which provide better support for voice calling on highly trafficked networks.

The next handsets up for GPS support on the Verizon network are the Samsung Saga and Samsung Omnia.  You can always try out this hack for other Verizon phones if you don’t want to wait.

TomTom iPhone app, car kit announced

Posted in Apple, Apps, Mobile, TomTom on June 9th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Really turn-by-turn navigation from TomTom for the iPhone?  Really?  Yep, really.  Yesterday TomTom announced two new upcoming products for the iPhone.  First is a dedicated navigation application which will soon be available in the App Store.  It’ll include TomTom’s IQ Routes and Tele Atlas maps.  Second, and pretty interesting from a PND maker, is a TomTom car kit for the iPhone.  It will include a special docker, voice directions, hands-free calling over Bluetooth and in-car charging.

It’s about time.  There has been rumor of a TomTom GPS app for the iPhone since last July when the iPhone 3G was released.  While some sort of development restriction hampered the app’s time to market, the company did say it would eventually release an iPhone app.  Things were pretty quiet for awhile, until last month when TomTom posted a job advertisement for an iPhone developer.  I never thought that the company would pursue what seems to amount to an all-out partnership with Apple.  It’s a smart move.

We’ll have to wait for pricing and availability details until later this summer after the iPhone 3.0 OS is officially released.  But for iPhone owners out there, the complete package will probably be a more economical (in price and hardware) solution to in-car navigation than a traditional PND.

New iPhone 3GS geo features will enable new location-based business models

Posted in Apple, GPS Software, Geospatial Technology, Mobile on June 9th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

As you undoubtedly know by now, Apple did in fact announced the long-rumored next generation iPhone 3GS at the Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday.  The company discussed some of the new geo-enhancements the iPhone 3.0 operating system will bring to the table, a topic that Brady Forrest covers in-depth on the O’Reilly Radar blog.

Several of the new features are very significant.  With Mapkit or Google Maps View, developers will be able to take advantage of Google’s mapping platform rather than having to build their own from scratch.  This has to be somewhat irritating to some of the early developers who spend tons of money and time building a platform from scratch, but as Forrest points out, the change will now give those companies an opportunity to switch over to Google Maps and eliminate the need to constantly perform costly maintenance.

Dynamic map markers will also allow real-time marker updates based on immediate information.  While this is great for some applications, it still doesn’t eliminate the need for push notification or background application processing.  Location-based apps like Loopt or Whrrl are of no use if they’re not running on the iPhone because you can’t receive updates.  And, surprisingly, there was no mention of push notification support at WWDC yesterday.  Apple’s Safari browser will support HTML 5 though, including the specifications geolocation APIs and offline content.  One step closer, but not quite a perfect fix.

New features like in-application purchases, the video-capable 3 megapixel autofocus camera, the compass, GameKit and the accessories API will probably bring some new business models to the forefront.

In-application purchases will allow developers to sell updates to their location-based apps or, for example, sell virtual goods (see here, here and here for earlier discussions). The addition of a compass and autofocus camera will enable interesting augmented reality applications and the ability to recognize barcodes and QR codes.  And GameKit, which allows iPhone’s to communicate over Bluetooth, and the accessories API, which supports interaction with third-party hardware, immediately brings to mind the creation of location-based games.

There is plenty of good coverage on the major tech blogs regarding some of the finer points of the iPhone 3GS, so I won’t cover that here.  I will mention though, that the iPhone 3.0 software update will be available June 17.  Also, the iPhone 3GS will come in 16 GB and 32 GB models, colored either black or white, and cost $199 and $299, respectively, with the signing of a 2-year AT&T contract.  The 3GS will be available June 19.  The old iPhone 3G will now cost $99 for new customers who sign a data plan.

Google Earth maps of Air France Flight 447

Posted in Mapping on June 9th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Google Earth Blog’s Frank Taylor has dug up some of the best community-created maps of the Air France Flight 447 crash site.  One map, created by ‘rafaelds‘, shows the approximate flight path from known data, the points at which radar contact was lost, and the position at which the doomed flight send its last signal to air traffic controllers.  Another map, created by ‘smokeonit‘, overlays a weather map over the crash site enabling a fairly clear picture of the dangers the flight attempted to navigate through.  Strangely, Flight 447 appears to have chosen to fly through the worst weather at a time when its radar was still working.

Design It competition announced by Google and the Guggenheim

Posted in Apps, Geospatial Technology, Industry, Mapping on June 8th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

In celebration of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s 142nd birthday today, the Guggenheim Museum and Google SketchUp have announced the Design It: Shelter Competition.

The premise is simple: use Google SketchUp to design a small structure suitable for living and working.  However, the structure can’t have running water, gas or electricity and must conform to the size constraints of shelters built by Wright’s Taliesin apprentices out in the Arizona desert (way back when).  For the competition, your shelter can be built anywhere in the world and geo-located in Google Earth.

Once you’re done designing your structure, upload it to Google’s 3D Warehouse and fill out the submission form on the Guggenheim website.  You have until August 23 to create your architectural masterpiece after which two enviable prizes will be awarded.  You can find all the prize details and contest rules on the Google SketchUp blog.


Palm Pre: 150, 000 apps downloaded first day, 50, 000 smartphones sold over first two days

Posted in Apps, Mobile, Palm on June 8th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

The numbers are rolling in after the Palm Pre’s launch over the weekend and analysts are calling the launch a success.  JP Morgan analyst Paul Coster wrote in a research note this morning that he estimated that “(s)ales in the first two days probably exceed 50,000,” also pointing out that the first generation iPhone sold 146, 000 units during its first two days of availability.

Palm’s sales numbers were hampered by an inventory shortage, however.  Stores across the United States were spotty, with some retailers carrying north of 200 Pres while others only had 20 or 30.  Why Palm to go with a soft launch isn’t really known, but I’m guessing it has something to do with its current cash crunch.  Most Sprint representatives didn’t know exactly when the next shipments would arrive either, though I’m sure it’ll be sometime in the next few days.

It’ll really get interesting in a couple of hours when Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference begins, during which it’s almost a sure thing a new iPhone will be announced.  Will it be good enough to kill off Palm’s momentum?  It remains to be seen.

Palm’s App Catalog had some impressive numbers over the weekend as well, despite the selection of applications being low.  The Official Palm Blog reports that over 150, 000 apps were downloaded on the first day the Pre was available.  Not too shabby at all.  Some of the location-based applications already available include uLocate’s popular Where app (currently 5th most popular overall), Citysearch, LikeMe, FlightView and movie ticket app Fandango.  Palm has only released its Mojo SDK to select developers, but when it’s publicly available it appears the App Catalog could see some Apple-like success, should the Pre continue its popular trending.

BMW Emergency Stop Assistant autonomous driving system will save lives

Posted in Android, Garmin, Geospatial Technology, Industry, Technology on June 8th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Grandma and Grandpa may be able to continue driving after all.  BMW and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany have partnered up to develop the Emergency Stop Assistant, a location-independent emergency recognition and assistance system, as part of the SmartSenior initiative.

The Emergency Stop Assistant, based on sensors that monitor vital data and BMW’s existing ConnectedDrive systems, aims to immediately recognize an emergency event such as a heart attack, after which it’ll enter an autonomous driving mode and safely pull off to the side of the road, notifying emergency services.  Sensors can detect surrounding traffic and the system can adjust its driving maneuvers to prevent accidents.

There isn’t any indication right now as to when the technology will be commercialized or if it’ll be used outside of the BMW line.  Ford’s Active Parking Assist doesn’t seem so cool anymore, does it?  Check out the full press release after the jump.

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Cellphone data, Flickr photos reveal economic potential of public art

Posted in Android, Geospatial Technology, Industry, Mapping, Netbooks on June 8th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

How can cellphone activity shed light on the economic benefit created by a public art project?  That’s the question MIT’s SENSEable City Lab set out to answer with its latest project, NYC Waterfalls, reports ReadWriteWeb.  Conducted from June 13 to October 26, 2008 and commissioned by the New York Art Fund, the project placed four man-made waterfalls, created by Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Oliasson, in the New York Harbor.  Using aggregate (not individually identifiable) cellphone data from AT&T Research Labs and chronologically organized Flickr photos, the City Lab attempted to quantify the economic impact of the art project.  The results are telling.

The project cost the city $20 million and brought in a total of $69 million during the study period.  Nearly 1.4 million people viewed the waterfalls from a suitable vantage point, and as derived from cellphone data, the location was 39.1 percent more “attractive” than other tourist destinations in the vicinity.  Other tourist attractions in the immediate harbor area also had an increase in visitors after the waterfalls were built.

The power of cellphone data and even publicly available datasets such as Flickr photos on tourism studies and urban planning is immediately apparent.  Over time, as more studies like this are conducted in different urban areas, city planners will eventually be able to predict where to locate tourist attractions to maximize the potential economic benefits.  It’ll take quite some time though I’d imagine.  NYC Waterfalls is one of the first studies of its kind in a large and innovative city, so it won’t be something that trickles down to smaller cities and towns right away.  But the future potential is fascinating.  How many people in your city would willingly put their tax dollars to a $20 million art project?  Probably not too many without quantifiable insurance that it would be an investment guaranteeing a solid return.  In this case it seems tax dollars were put to good use.