GPS Manufacturers

Garmin discontinues nuvi x85 GPS family

Posted in Garmin on December 31st, 2009 by Justin – Comments

nuvi 785 Garmin discontinues nuvi x85 GPS family

Alanb, a poster at the forums, has caught an interesting tidbit of discontinued goodness on Garmin’s website. Likely due to the near-death status of MSN Direct, the company has discontinued its nuvi x85 series GPS navigators. After the holidays no less, which seems a bit shady to me. Then again, prices of nuvi x85 navigators are now plummeting and if you sign up for MSN Direct by March 31, 2010, you’ll receive 9 months of service free. When you consider the relative lifespan of a GPS navigator it might not be such a bad deal after all.


MobileHelp GPS alert system will keeps tabs on the old man in real-time

Posted in GPS Manufacturers on December 29th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

mobile help 300x65 MobileHelp GPS alert system will keeps tabs on the old man in real timeAs the predominantly Baby Boomer population continues to age, GPS tracking devices designed specifically for the elderly seem to increasingly common. The MobileHelp GPS alert system is one of the latest to hit the market, a product of Medical Mobile Monitoring. The system consists of numerous parts: the base station, a pendant that presumably is worn around the neck, a GPS/cellular help button, and 24/7/365 switchboard.

Getting someone to wear a GPS-aware pendant around their neck involuntarily will probably be tough, and the help button is a separate accessory that has to be remembered by the person being tracked. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. In any case though, if the person presses the help button they’ll be connected to call center, and a loved one would be alerted via their mobile phone of the emergency (which likely would’ve helped this couple). A loved one can also track the location of the tracked person on a map online, in real-time. Sounds thrilling.

Unfortunately as well, the MobileHelp GPS alert system requires an AT&T subscription that not only costs a minimum of $39.95 per month, but only covers a fraction of the entire population and geographical area of the United States. Sounds comforting.


Garmin Oregon 450t, 450 GPS handhelds bowed with Custom Maps

Posted in Garmin on December 29th, 2009 by Justin – Comments
Garmin Oregon 450t

Garmin Oregon 450t

Garmin today has announced the Oregon 450 and 450t GPS handhelds. Fitting between the top-of-the-line Oregon 550t and Garmin’s older Dakota handheld GPS series, both the Oregon 450 and 450t have a 3-inch, glove-friendly, color touchscreen, a 3-axis compass, user-selected dashboards enabling owners to customize screen appearance, enhanced track navigation for hikers and cyclists, a barometric altimeter, paperless geocaching, and wireless data transfer with other Oregon, Fortrex, Dakota and Colorado GPS devices from Garmin.

Furthermore, both handhelds are compatible with Garmin Connect, the company’s online social community for sharing data, which in turn is exportable to Google Earth, Facebook and Twitter.

One of my favorite new features is Custom Maps. It lets Oregon, Colorado or Dakota owners transfer the details of both electronic and paper maps to their handhelds.

The Oregon 450 and 450t each weigh 6.8 ounces, have 850 MB of internal memory, a microSD slot for expandable space, and a high-speed USB port.

The Oregon 450t also includes preloaded 100K topographic maps of the United States complete with 3D elevation perspective, and coverage of highways, interstates, urban and rural roads, river, lakes and more.

Both the Oregon 450 and Oregon 450t appear to only be available directly from Garmin currently for $399.99 and $499.99, respectively.

Garmin Oregon 450

Garmin Oregon 450

10 geospatial industry trends to watch in 2010

Posted in Apps, GPS Manufacturers, GPS Software, Geospatial Technology, Industry, Mapping, Mobile, Netbooks, Venture Capital on December 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

2009 was definitely the year that the geospatial industry took off from a mainstream consumer perspective. Sure location-based applications and services have been around for years, but not for the average Joe/Jane like you and I. This year will be the first year that I actually put together a prediction post, my thoughts regarding what will trend in the industry in 2010. It’s part of my goal to focus on content quality this year which I’ll talk about in a future post. So here goes. These are a few of the areas I think will be important to watch in 2010 and I hope you add your thoughts and opinions in the comments after the post.

1. Augmented reality explodes-and by explodes I’m not referring to the marker-based applications and browsers on the market now. While some industry insiders like to badmouth the augmented reality stuff available now, every successful industry needs to start somewhere. I think 2010 will bring a proliferation of location-based augmented reality apps running the gamut from marketing/advertising to social networking, and even filtering back up to military uses.

2. Game mechanics proliferate-right now Foursquare and Gowalla are the two biggest GPS-using mobile applications that have successfully incorporated game mechanics. Both have been quite successful acquiring users that use the respective apps repeatedly, though neither have the user base (and probably never will) that Facebook and Twitter have. I think we’ll see something from Twitter in this area in 2010 with the launch of its Geolocation API though I think it’ll be in the form of an acquisition (like its recent GeoAPI buy). Once Facebook incorporates location into its platform (which I think will be in 2010), I think we’ll see some interesting uses of game mechanics here as well.

3. Virtual goods and mobile coupons will be huge-I’ve talked about virtual goods before as a fitting business model for location-based applications. Geographical locations, especially those with some sort of historical significance, lend themselves to having a monetizable virtual good attached. Plus the next-to-nothing cost of a virtual good isn’t threatening to the average consumer, even young ones. Eventually though, and I think 2010 will be the year, mobile coupons will a massive industry. Especially once they can be tied to location-not only outdoor location, but in-store location as well. This year I was impressed with the “mobile deal” app usage by people looking for holiday buying deals. Next year the mobile deal apps will be much more complex, contextualized with geolocation, and even more popular!

4. Google-need I say more. Google’s movement in the geospatial industry in the past year has been something like a rocket taking off into space. It seemed like every week the company had a new geo-announcement pertaining to its Maps and Earth platforms, for both end users and developers. With innovations like Google SketchUp making it so easy to create 3D building models, the Google Earth platform will move increasingly toward a 3D interface in 2010 and count on many more information layers becoming available. Possibly most significantly, Google Maps Navigation, free and open source GPS navigation software that is only available legally in the United States will become globally (or at least moving in that direction) available. What that means for Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, Mio and other dedicated PND and GPS handheld manufacturers remains to be seen. Free GPS software that can be used by Garmin and others will also have a direct effect on the viability of companies such as NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas. Right now, on a global scale, both companies have better overall mapping data than Google. But remember that Google cut Tele Atlas as its mapping data supplier in the US recently and that trend will continue.

5. Android LBS apps surpass iPhone LBS apps-okay, maybe not in quantity. Right now the iPhone app platform is the place to be, but with the sheer amount of apps in the App Store it’s becoming tougher for developers to stand out. That goes for LBS apps as well as other types. In 2010 though, we’ll see a ton of Android phones hit the market and they’ll be better than the Droid (imagine that). With more Android phones available, and more Android APIs to work with for developers, I think we’ll see many LBS developers creating innovative applications for the Android Market. I don’t really consider the Blackberry App World, Palm App Catalog, and Nokia Ovi Store as major players at the moment.

6. Search engine results incorporating location-you could argue that there is already Google Local Search and other search engine niches that return search results that are local to the person searching. But I think that geolocation in real-time will play a part in search results, not only on the mobile phone but on the desktop as well. Google and Microsoft already incorporate real-time Twitter results in their search results. Indirectly that means Tweets appended with location information appear in search results almost immediately. Eventually location, whether it be indirectly or directly through mobile search, etc., will play a huge part in search engine results. Especially as search algorithms move to real-time rankings. Look for movement here in 2010.

7. Venture capital cash flowing again-in the first half of 2009, venture capital investments were fairly slow given the recessionary economic environment. In the second half of the year though, investments picked up, and quite a few were in the LBS industry. I think VC cash will flow in 2010 into the LBS industry with a focus on monetization platforms (mobile advertising, etc.) and back-end infrastructure (think SCVNGR-it’s a company that has my antennae pointing skyward). The first half of 2010 will probably include quite a few VC investments into consumer application-focused companies as well. I don’t really expect anything in the way of IPOs, though I’ve heard rumors that Loopt may be heading in the is directions. In terms of acquisition behaviour, look for Google and Twitter to gobble up quite a few smaller LBS companies. Facebook may acquire a few LBS companies of its own as I expect its engineers are working on the geolocation aspect of the social networking platform behind the scenes.

8. Location-based mobile video-the ubiquity of GPS-aware mobile phones and even digital cameras has made geotagging photos easy. Just browse through Flickr and Picasa and you’ll seee millions of personal pictures with latitude and longitude coordinates attached. I think 2010 will be the year of location-based mobile video. Mobile video platforms like Qik are incredibly useful and growing quickly in popularity as more and more people have smartphones with generous data plans. 2010 will bring new mobile video platforms that focus on contextualizing videos with location information. Whether this will be from established platforms or from new names I’m not entirely sure. Microsoft Research has a project called Mobicast which stitches mobile video from multiple mobile phones together, kind of like Photosynth does for pictures. In the future Mobicast may be able to figure out how to stitch together multiple video streams from a single location into a single stream using GPS metadata. This is the future of mobile video and we’ll see it begin this year.

9. Every gadget to include a GPS chip-I admit this might not happen in 2010, but things will move in this direction. Dedicated PNDs used to be the sole domain of the GPS chip, but in the next few years every mobile phone will have one, not just smartphones. In 2009 digital camera and netbook makers began to incorporate GPS chips into their respective gadgets, albeit only occasionally. In 2010 I think most netbooks will have GPS chips and they make great little navigation gadgets with apps like Google Maps. In fact, Google’s own Chrome OS-based netbook will supposedly include a GPS chip and one-click Google Maps access. From a cost perspective, the addition of a GPS chip isn’t much to a company with good distribution, but has a high value for the end user. Most digital cameras and possibly video cameras this year will also include an embedded GPS chip. Geotagging pictures is popular among the average electronics user now and this trend will extend to video I’m assuming. Next will come the incorporation of GPS into every gadget imaginable. Just imagine the Amazon Kindle  10 geospatial industry trends to watch in 2010with a GPS chip. Can’t find an ebook? Just launch Google Maps and access an application that routes you to the nearest bookstore stocking your book!

10. PND prices continue to plummet-now that pretty well every GPS manufacturer pumps out hardware and software with the same features, with different names, they can only compete on price. That drives price down and that’s why it isn’t uncommon to net a decent GPS navigator online for south of $100. Even in the middle of summer. This year it won’t be uncommon to net a Garmin or TomTom GPS, an entry-level one, for $50. ‘Nuff said.

Brutus the wolf gets a GPS collar, travels the Arctic

Posted in Apps, GPS Manufacturers, Geospatial Technology on December 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

brutus gps Brutus the wolf gets a GPS collar, travels the Arctic

Living in Canada, I’m quite familiar with the site of Canada Geese making the rounds from North to South and back again every year. I’m not quite far enough north to be acquainted with the wolves though.

Researchers from the US Geological Survey have managed to attach a GPS collar to one wolf, Brutus, and the incoming data has revealed some fascinating things about the travails and travels wolf packs endure every winter.

One trip, an 80 mile jaunt from Ellesmere Island to Axel Heiberg Island, was completed in just 84 hours. And that’s with GPS coordinates being taken every 12 hours meaning distance is measured from point to point in a straight line. As you can probably imagine, wolves probably travel much more distance in the intervening, untracked time. You can follow the adventures of Brutus and his pack complete with pictures and maps on the the Wolves of the High Arctic blog.


Magellan iPhone car kit pre-order available, RoadMate for iPhone version 1.1 launches

Posted in Apps, Magellan on December 24th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

roadmate for iphone Magellan iPhone car kit pre order available, RoadMate for iPhone version 1.1 launchesMagellan’s premium car kit for the iPhone is up for pre-order and its RoadMate for iPhone application has been updated to version 1.10.

The car kit works with the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second-generation iPod Touch. It works with the latter because it has a built-in GPS receiver. It also features an adjustable mount so it can fit skins and most hard cases, rotates for portrait and landscape use, has Bluetooth, in-car charging, an amplified speaker and a noise-canceling speakerphone. Its compatibility with skins seems to be the only major difference between this car kit and TomTom’s. In common with TomTom is its ridiculous price-$129.99 in its pre-order phase. It’s expected to ship January 7, 2010. My advice is to wait awhile on this as the price will undoubtedly drop after Magellan realizes that no one will pay such a high price!

The RoadMate for iPhone application includes a number of new features in version 1.10. Most significant among them is compatibility with the second-generation iPod Touch. Also new is customizable speed warnings and multi-destination routing, Find My Car in the OneTouch menu, a variety of UI enhancements, and more. You can download RoadMate for the iPhone from the App Store for $60 until January 3, 2010 after which it’ll return to its full $100 price tag.

magellancarkit Magellan iPhone car kit pre order available, RoadMate for iPhone version 1.1 launches

Navigon iPhone app gets a holiday price cut, feature updates

Posted in Apps, Navigon on December 18th, 2009 by Justin – Comments
navigon iphone 199x300 Navigon iPhone app gets a holiday price cut, feature updatesNavigon is looking to compete with TomTom’s $50 iPhone app with a deal of its own that looks better than TomTom’s offering.
Not only is Navigon slashing the price of its MobileNavigator iPhone app from $90 to $60, but the company has also released a version 1.4 update with a whole bunch of new features. The new features include:
  • Google Local Search and enhanced pedestrian mode
  • turn-by-turn route list that provides a detailed list of directions that automatically updates during navigation
  • favorites are displayed as flagged icons on the map
  • Traffic Live messages can be browsed with finger swipes
  • contacts can be set as interim destinations with one-tap (this can also be accessed directly from the phone book)
  • MobileNavigator augments a weak iPhone GPS signal with its own positioning estimations and active route guidance is automatically switched off until a stronger signal is again available
  • iPhone fingertip control now allows 3D zooming in addition to 2D
  • drivers are given important country information such as speed limits when a border crossing is detected
  • Audiobook Mode rewinds a second of an audiobook being played when interrupted by voice directions
  • Direct Help provides easy access to local emergency organizations
  • the Coordinates feature allows users to use exact latitude and longitude coordinates as a destination, allows for them to be emailed, and even launched in Google Maps outside of Mobile Navigator
That’s a ton of great new features to accompany a substantial price cut. There is a catch, however. The price reduction is only in effect until January 11, 2010 after which it’ll presumably return to its regular $90 price.

TomTom cuts North American iPhone app price by $30

Posted in Apps, TomTom on December 14th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

tomtom car kit TomTom cuts North American iPhone app price by $30TomTom has followed up its decision to offer a US-only TomTom app for the iPhone for only $50 with a $30 price cut for the full North American version. The previously $100 app now costs $70 which should help make Canadians like me happy in addition to my American friends.


TomTom USA-only iPhone app costs $49.99

Posted in Apps, TomTom on December 12th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

tomtom iphone TomTom USA only iPhone app costs $49.99

Desperately want the TomTom iPhone app but don’t need maps of Canada, nor do you particularly want to pay $100. Good news. TomTom has launched TomTom USA, a US-only iPhone app that only costs $49.99 until December 28. Unfortunately for Canadians like myself, there isn’t a corresponding Canada-only app.


Magellan iPhone GPS app released; built-in GPS dash mount coming soon

Posted in Apps, Magellan on November 16th, 2009 by Justin – Comments
Magellan iPhone GPS app

Magellan iPhone GPS app

Nipping at the heels of Google’s evil plan to decimate the navigation industry, Magellan has joined the iPhone app party with a new GPS app today. The application basically replicates the functionality of a typical Magellan PND, right down to the interface. In fact, rather than give the Magellan iPhone app an ‘Apple-y’ look, Magellan chose to stick to its own look, right down to replacing the iPhone keyboard.

Features include turn-by-turn directions with spoken street names, 3D landmarks, lane guidance, a “Find My Car” GPS function, address book integration, in-app music controls, a pedestrian mode, and Magellan’s OneTouch feature that places oft-used features within one tap of the touchscreen.

One downside of the Magellan iPhone GPS app is its size. At 1.3 GB, it takes up a fair amount of space, but at least in areas with poor carrier coverage you’ll still be able to navigate. Magellan will aim at TomTom in the iPhone dash mount space as well, with a dedicated dash mount, coming in the near future. The dash mount will have its own built-in GPS receiver, in-car charging, Bluetooth hands-free calling, a speaker, and iPod Touch compatibility as long as you’ve purchased the GPS app. No word on iPhone GPS dash mount price, but the Magellan iPhone app is available now for $80, though that price could increase in the future.