Tag Archives: GPS

MotionX-GPS – The latest and greatest GPS App for the iPhone

MotionX-GPSI came across Navigadget’s MotionX-GPS App review a few days ago and decided to spend the $2.99 for the download.  It is a user friendly App that boasts six main screens: MotionX-GPS, MotionX-Stopwatch, MotionX-Navigation (compass), and MotionX-Track (map), MotionX-Waypoints and MotionX-Logbook.  While most GPS units have either too many or not enough navigation features MotionX-GPS seems to provide the right amount.  At $2.99 who is going to complain?

Here’s their YouTube spot:

Download HERE

Website HERE

‘GPS receiver in every SIM card’

This could be a game changer.  A German company has developed a SIM card with an integrated A-GPS receiver.  Navigadget has the story:

German smartcard maker Sagem Orga just announced a partnership with BlueSky Positioning to integrate A-GPS receiver on regular SIM cards.

The proprietary new approach incorporates a highly accurate GPS receiver and an antenna into the SIM card, enabling network providers to deploy both legally-mandated and commercial applications for all mobile phones, with no need for software or hardware changes. To make positioning even more accurate and user friendly, the A-GPS SIM uses assisted GPS data.

Read on…

Suunto X10

I have been trying to avoid writing about this uber-watch until you could actually go out and buy one but the big, glossy photos over at Navigadget gave me blog envy so I have given up and have decided to post about this because today I simply want to run with the herd.  The Suunto X10 looks like an extremely cool piece of gear that some of you might want to check out.  How cool is it?  It has GPS and you can export your tracks to Google Earth.  Ok, enough said?  If not, read the entire press release.  Here’s a teaser:

The Suunto X10 is compatible with several digital mapping services across the world, including National Geographic TOPO!, Google Earth” and Fugawi. With Suunto Track Exporter PC software, route planning and waypoint programming is fast, accurate and simple. Users can plan their routes on a digital map and download routes directly onto the Suunto X10 or print out their own customized maps. The Suunto Track Exporter PC software also allows users to export “tracks” from their GPS units to Google Earth”, where they can view their adventures anywhere on the globe with real satellite imagery.

After converting your Suunto X10 logs with Suunto Track Exporter, you can share your adventures with anyone who uses Google Earth,” explains Suunto Outdoor Product Manager Petteri Hernelahti. “You can save your tracks in Google Earth, and then email them to friends or family, or post them on a website or blog for downloading.

More eye candy at Navigadget…

InSTEDD’s Eduardo Jezierski on SPOT

Eduardo’s comment is already in the wild but I thought I’d post it for all to see.  Eduardo Jezierski is Director of Engineering over at InSTEDD, a Google.org funded initiative.   He’s got some great lessons learned for those of you that are on your way to pick up a SPOT unit.  He also praises the integration with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle that Evan told us about.  Eduardo writes:

Just before Where 2.0 I had a substantive rant blog post against SPOT, mostly for locking in the information (unless you are into parsing emails which is where hoped not to go), and a plea to go the fireeagle route…then Myanmar happened and blogging about other things screeched to a halt.

I am very glad that SPOT is doing this! We have POC code integrating FireEagle with geochat -so we benefit the more providers FE has.

Some warnings wrt the SPOT tracker however:
1) Make sure you take it to places within the coverage region. Zimbabwe, for example, isn’t. I found while I was there (my bad). So are chunks of South East Asia where I spend a lot of time. I’d like to see SPOT devices on other sat systems too!
2) Make sure you understand the ‘user interface’ which is minimal (not minimalistic) Do you know what blink-double-blink-blink means?
3) If you sign up for their evac insurance make sure it’s set up correctly. You only get one shot at it during tracker setup, if you fall outside that and want to do it after activation you are stuck with a much larger (but still reasonable) fee. I got the device very early and their support informed me I fell of the bandwagon and would have to deal with the insurance company directly.

All in all, I think the SPOT is a ‘very V1’ product with a lot of promise showing connectedness and location in the same device. Improved hardware design, and more openess in the management of the data seem to be on track!

If you want to read more about what Eduardo and his team are up to please be sure to check out his blog.  And, don’t forget that SPOT is giving out Fire Eagle invites for those of you that need them!

OpenMoko FreeRunner – a good thing waiting to happen

Not long ago I attended O’Reilly’s FooCamp and had the opportunity to fiddle with OpenMoko’s FreeRunner.  A dozen of these nifty little gems littered a table in the MAKE workspace.  I was rushing between events but I managed to squeeze in a few minutes of playtime.

While the FreeRunner has taken some hits for various shortcomings I have to say I was fairly impressed after only a few minutes of messing with it.  It has good weight and feel and I had no problem navigating through the screens.  While I did not have time to make a call I noticed that a number of participants had managed to do so.

I would love to see the FreeRunner develop into a viable smartphone alternative, much the same way Ubuntu has as an OS, but for right now I think it is pretty much a geek only tool.  For more info on this device check out Sam Churchill’s write up over at dailywireless.org.  Today Gizmodo announced that OpenMoko is releasing the chip schematics so that you can build your own.

SPOT – plays well with Fire Eagle

Remember SPOT from a few posts back?  Well, the corporate blog posted our post so we are going to return the favor and let y’all know that SPOT now boasts Fire Eagle support.  “To enable SPOT GPS data sharing with Fire Eagle in the SPOT web service, select the Share tab and click on Fire Eagle.”

And, if you find yourself out of Fire Eagle invites, head on over to their write-up, post a comment, and they’ll send you an invite!  Once you are up and running be sure to drop us a line and let us know how it is going.

If you have not purchased one of these units you can buy them online over at REI for $149.99 or through the SPOT company store.

SPOT + Fire Eagle + Twitter = no problem

Evan Henshaw-Plath, a.ka. Rabble, wrote to let me know that he has linked his SPOT to Twitter via Yahoo’s Fire Eagle.  (You catch him on Twitter under his alias.)  Check out this Twitter post:

rabble “Fire Eagle last spotted you 14 minutes ago at xxx NW Gxxxxx St, Portland, OR using SPOT Satellite Messenger. ” So cool. It Works

SPOT is a personal locator tool which uses GPS to find you and then uses a satellite network to send your location to folks that are following you.  The data is a available in a variety of formats (GPX, GeoRSS and KML) and can easily be sent out via email, SMS or RSS.

Yahoo’s Fire Eagle is “the secure and stylish way to share your location with sites and services online while giving you unprecedented control over your data and privacy.” If you haven’t signed up for a Beta invite yet please do so here.  Evan had a hand in creating Fire Eagle as well as Twitter.  You can watch him here talking about Fire Eagle at eComm 2008:

By directing Fire Eagle to route his SPOT tracks to Twitter Evan can keep his followers informed of his whereabouts at all times.  Evan also said that SPOT works just fine in a backpack so there should be no line-of-sight issues.

It makes me wonder if all the climbers on K2 (that I wrote about yesterday here) were carrying SPOT’s and had them set-up so that their teammates could follow them would more of them have survived?  There are so many factors to consider that there cannot be one simple answer.  We do know that one person survived thanks to the fact that they could identify and send their location via their Thuraya satellite phone.

This is the type of resourcefulness that I love to hear about.  While the SPOT isn’t cheap at $169.99 it is unique in it’s abilities and if you are running off to the bush, and you are in a permissive environment, you might consider throwing one in your bag.  Fire Eagle and Twitter are both free to use so once you’ve paid the upfront costs you can enable your entire network of friends and associates to follow your every move.

How a Thuraya’s GPS unit just saved a climber’s life

As a follow-up to the last post here is a news update on the climbers in Pakistan.  Apparently, one climber was saved thanks to his ability to access GPS coordinates on his Thuraya.  I am not certain how the coordinates were used but it seems as if he may have been sending his coordinates to his fellow climbers via SMS.

11:32 pm CDT Aug 02, 2008
(K2Climb.net) Norit expedition leader Dutch Wilco Van Rooijen has incredibly survived 3 nights exposure on the high slopes of K2.

He is currently in Camp 3, together with Cas and Pemba Sherpa. Yesterday, Wilco was located between camp 4 and 3 on the Cesen route thanks to GPS coordinates on his Thuraya sat phone, and later people in BC spotted him coming down very slowly under his own power.

It is for this very reason that I blogged about Twittering from Thuraya some months ago.  The more easily people in the field can relay there location back to their support team the better.

Why Apple’s worldwide iPhone roll out is so important

Last week I was speaking to a friend in Croatia and he was thrilled that he could soon wander down to the local Hrvatski Telekom store and pick up an iPhone 3G.  Until now most iPhones in eastern Europe sold for ridiculous sums a Russian friend was quoting me astronomical prices for unlocked phones in St. Petersburg.  While they are still not cheap by most folks’ standards they are now available to a much wider market.  You will soon be able to pick-up a unit in Kenya, Croatia, Jordan, etc.  What most people don’t understand, and why this roll out is so important, is because it now makes an A-GPS enabled GSM phone available to markets from which most international aid organizations pull their staff.

As an American aid worker I was almost always a minority when I was in the field.  I was fortunate enough to be able to work with some of the most talented professionals that Eastern Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia, and Africa had to offer.  Now that these professionals have access to the same tools that someone on their lunch break in the Embarcadero has, and they are taking them to places where they are truly needed, the benefit that this type of technology has to offer will quickly become apparent.

Now, I may be pumping the numbers on Croatians, Kenyans and Iraqi’s that are going to be running out and throwing down a chunk of change on an iPhone 3G, and I am certainly ignoring the fact that most already own well equipped Nokia Nseries phones that have long had these capabilities, but my guess is that you’ll soon see a video clip of an aid worker speaking frantically into an iPhone 3G during the next major international event.

What do you think?

The GeoChat solution

I just wanted to let you all know that we are working hard on building out InSTEDD’s GeoChat platform to bring you a viable Twitter-like solution for sat phone users. I was introduced to Eduardo Jezierski and Daniel Cazzulino of InSTEDD through Evan, Mikel, Schuyler and Jesse (Many thanks to you all!) on Wednesday and since that time we have been working steadily to create a tool that will allow any Thuraya user to send their GPS coordinates via SMS and have it arrive as attachment in a designated recipient’s inbox. Daniel and Eduardo have been doing an amazing job and within 24hrs they had the server end up and running. As soon as we have something viable I will be sure to let you all know.

In the mean time check out http://www.teddster.org/ to get a taste of things to come.