Where do they get all those toys?

Ok, so this is probably pretty pedestrian for most real geospatial users out there. There’s a little write-up in Digital Trends about how mapping companies like Tele Atlas get their navigation information. However it’s nice to see some inside photos of the toys with a bit of discussion of how they all work. The article says “GPS”, but I think they’re speaking more specifically about navigation systems. Of note for Sue, they use her beloved IBM Thinkpad for their data collection!

Interestingly enough was the miles these guys travel to collect data – 50-300 miles per day, depending on the area they’re collecting. In a van that gets what I’m betting is in the neighborhood of 15-17mpg and gas around $3.00 per gallon…. now you know why the data is so expensive πŸ™‚

Geospatial Augmented Reality

ARCheck out this article about how Simon Frasier University is taking advantage of virtual environments and augmented reality in the classroom (and beyond). These technologies are flourishing in some areas, but they are slow to find wide adoption. This probably has a lot to do with the cost of most of the hardware associated. Either way, if you aren’t too familiar with some of the uses of AR, I would point you to the proceedings of the VSMM over the last few years, where examples have been getting ever more exciting. BTW, VSMM is going to be in China in October if you have the time and cash πŸ™‚

Graphics, Culture, and Bad Grammar.: Geospatial Virtual Environments – Dr. Nick Hedley, Spatial Interface Research Lab, Simon Fraser University, Augmented Reality

New Mac Pro and MacOS 10.5 announced

While we have been at the ESRI Plenary, Steve Jobs took stage up north and introduced a couple of little things. I am pretty excited about the new Mac Pro which is based on the new Core 2 Duo chips including the high-end dual chip (4 cores total) option. Check out Engadget’s cover for details on MacOS 10.5…it looks pretty good.

Update: My bad, there is only a dual-chip option…no single processors for the Mac Pro

ArcPad Today Powertoy

ArcPadThis morning on the new ArcPad dev team blog, they released a small powertoy for the PocketPC. The ArcPad Today Powertoy is a free today screen plug-in that allows you to access ArcPad directly and keep an eye on your battery and memory. I spent good money on a similar program for my PocketPC before I jumped over to a tablet πŸ™‚ . If you are an ArcPad and PocketPC user, be sure to check it out.

ArcPad Team Blog

Real time traffic tracking

This isn’t your father’s real time traffic tracking. This is personal. Technology has been out for awhile now that can read a license plate in traffic from a distance. So what’s the news? Apparently G2 Tactics in Virginia invisions a day when its cheap enough for anyone to buy. We could all track each other’s driving patterns. Groups could buy or lease the equipment and re-sell data to information brokers, who in turn can sell that information to nearly anyone with a check. I find the technology itself fascinating, but the privacy implications(or lack there of) frightening.

LAPD Get their Spidey Tracer!

If you read the blog regularly, you’ll know my facination with the “Spidey Tracer”. (in truth, I’m facinated with all super gadgets… Batman is my hero!) Now the LAPD will jump on the spidey tracer fun bandwagon with Virginia-based company StarChase’s new laser homing dart GPS. The dart can be launched by chase vehicles onto a suspects car. Rather than chase through LA’s busy streets and breakneck speeds, the police can catch the alleged criminal in a safer manner. Apparently this is a huge issue because the article linked above states that police chase, on average, kill on Californian every week! Hopefully this new device will help lower that scary statistic.

TomTom not SueSue

I know it is just a commercial, and I have never actually used a TomTom, but I agree that it is better to go with a TomTom than SueSue…she doesn’t always give the clearest directions πŸ™‚

Opera 9 and widgets

As you all may know I am a fan of the widget. Konfabulator was wonderful, Yahoo Widgets made them more ubiquitous, and of course Apple stole widgets from Konfabulator πŸ™‚ (and Widgets in Vista…have I mentioned Vista is very pretty).

Now, Opera has officially released version 9 complete with…you guessed it, widgets. These are similar to other widgets taking advantage of XML and JS to develop widgets, but they suggest they also support SVG natively. So far there aren’t any map widgets, but I am guessing that isn’t going to last very long. If you make an Opera based map widget (or any other map widget) let us know and we will share with the community. Hopefully, I will be able to get an intern to work on one tomorrow to go with our previous WMS Yahoo Widget.

Use tablet instead of table to control GE

Inspired by the Smackbook demo and the tabletop Google Earth at the Where Fair, I am trying to use my Toshiba M200 tablet to control Google Earth (and others). Unlike the MacBook and ThinkPad (SmackPad), the Toshiba comes with a utility to take advantage of the accelerometer out of the box (though I haven’t used it in the 2 years I’ve had the tablet). The downside is the lack of an API for the Toshiba accelerometer to allow you to move beyond the very simple functions in the utility.

An example video of how a ThinkPad has been used to control Google Maps is available here.

I will try to get a video of it working with Google Earth or ArcGlobe up as soon as I get a video camera πŸ™‚