LightSquared to Impact 75% of GPS Receivers…. maybe

Here’s some bad news for LightSquared – looks like their system will negatively impact the overwhelming majority of GPS receivers currently in operation, based upon a leak of a test report. A series of tests were conducted by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration between Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 confirming this concern. LightSquared fired back suggesting they plan on operating at a lower power point than the tests and that ‘interfered’ isn’t properly defined by the study. They estimate their new systems will only negatively interact with 10% of existing GPS units. LightSquared says in a letter, “The report presents a completely slanted and selective review of the test results. Clearly the leak was intended to prejudge the issue and prejudice public opinion against LightSquared.”

To be honest, in my opinion, even 10% seems a bit high. Regulators were withholding approval for the new system in anticipation of this study. Looks like to me LightSquared better commission a new study PDQ or risk loosing approval for their new systems.

Galileo taking the stage

While this week’s launch of two of the satellites for the Galileo constellation there has been quite a bit of information ramping up for the yet unusable system. BUT with the EU having worked so hard to make Galileo a reality it is good to see that there they are trying to make sure that it will capture the attention of industry and consumers alike. With GLONASS‘s aging and yet incomplete constellation and the GPS constellation also seeing an aging infrastructure and unclear upgrade path thanks to reduced budgets over recent years (not to mention continuing uncertainty on the Lightsquared front), it is great to see the EU making visible progress (as well as China) in deploying new positioning systems. Below is a video about Galileo and this link takes you to a BBC look at a satellite during construction.

Adjusting the Nut Holding the Wheel

I really like that quote. The good folks at the Center for Environmental Research Technology (CERT) at the University of California have been engaged in researching new fuel efficiency technology. Their conclusions – fix the driver, not the car. The way we drive has a huge impact on the efficiency of our vehicles. The researchers at CERT estimate you can realize a much as a 30% increase in fuel efficiency with some changes to your driving habits. Unfortunately, we don’t like to change how we drive. The team is trying to develop ways which give the driver feedback on ‘good’ habits that increase fuel efficiency as well as ‘bad’ habits. The trick is doing so without being obnoxious (a trick I’ve never personally learned, as I’m sure Sue and Jesse will attest). They’ve used a variety of techniques, from visual chances on the dashboard to audio clues to force feedback on your gas pedal. The hard part is walking the line between good information and not distracting information. As the research notes, better use of navigation tied to smart traffic networks will reduce start/stop traffic and needless idling, which helps even more.
As a bit of a ‘hypermiler’ from an early age, I can tell you these tricks can really impact your fuel efficiency in a positive way.

Team Garmin-Cervelo

I get to make a cheesy statement here about how Garmin-Cervelo race team has found their way to the top in August with Garmin, but I think the picture on their home page explains it better. You can follow the official Garmin Team on Garmin Connect or sign up to support them via Facebook or Twitter. They have some really cool team apparel including some national champion bike jerseys. Jean-François Phillips has a blog called Tour de France or Bust where he is going to us a Garmin GPS to track the route of the 2011 Tour de France on a day-by-day basis starting August 27, 2011. He is doing it to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes. You can also visit the official Le Tour de France site to find out more about the route or its famous history.

NYC BigApps Winner

Laurie Segall’s article for CNN Money, “Bloomberg opens NYC data to entrepreneurs” announces the winner of this years NYC Bigapps using NYC public data sets. This year’s winner out of 50 apps was Roadify, a real-time app that sends alerts about subway, bus, and driving conditions. New York City, like many government agencies in recent years, wanted an innovative way to use many the unused or unexplored data sets that they don’t have the capacity to use. It is a great way to create jobs, create usable data, and involve the public.

Apple serious about location privacy

In my infinite Apple fanboyishness I am going through the iPhone OS 4.0 keynote video from earlier today. A couple of nice things that will be rolling to your iPhone/iPod Touch later this summer and iPad in the fall when the new OS ships will be background location and multitasking (need to let your location app run in the background). With background locations you get two important things:

1) If you are running a turn-by-turn app, then switch over to another app, your turn-by-turn app will keep tracking your GPS location and continue giving you voice directions.
2) If you are running a social networking app like Loopt or Google Latitude (maybe?) then there will be a low power mode that will use your cell location (which tower your are connected to) as a proxy for your location. When you move to a new tower your social networking app will be pinged so that it knows to grab a more accurate location using GPS.

This is huge and something that other services such as Veriplace (as you will hear in this week’s podcast) are rolling out for multiple platforms.

Perhaps the most important note is that now, with multiple apps running, it may not be as easy to keep up with when you are sharing your location or not. Apple has a solution (or 2) for that. When an app is pulling your location via wifi, cell, or GPS it will display a new icon on the top bar next to the battery. It won’t tell you which app is pulling location, but at least you will know when you are sharing. The other thing that they are doing is letting you know in the new Location Services control panel whether or not you have shared your location with an app in the last 24 hours. The Location Services control panel will also be where you dictate which apps have access to your location, doing away with the “are you sure” screen that pop-ups each time you open an app.

I have to say that I am pretty impressed by the steps they have taken to secure privacy…now I am just waiting to see if they blow it by using your location to push location ads (haven’t watch that part yet).

Leica Zeno

There was a press release back in late February that I just came across from the folks at Leica Geosystems which caught my attention, partially due to the product, partially for the picture. The product is their new Zeno handheld GPS/GLONASS device. It is a Windows CE device, as has become the norm, and they have rolled out their new Zeno Office that includes an OEM version of ArcPad 8 for the device and a desktop client extension for ArcGIS to get your data in and out of the device.

The hardware has most of the features you expect now-a-days: 2 MP camera, 640×480 3.5 inch screen, and SD and CF card slots for expansion. The Zeno 10 includes a numeric pad while the Zeno 15 adds a QWERTY keypad, which brings us to the picture of a GPS unit that immediately made me think ‘green fish’. My mental image aside, the new Zeno line looks like a great option for those in the market for a professional grade handheld GPS unit. If you get a chance to play with one, let us know what you think.

Ashtech GPS solutions

You remember that not too long ago Magellan split itself up between Magellan and Magellan Professional selling off its consumer name and division to GPS powerhouse MiTAC (makers of the Mio GPS line and others). With the recent explosion of in-car nav and LBS it may have seemed like a questionable move, but Magellan’s pro products have always stood out to me.

Today Magellan Professional moves forward again with a rebranding and name change to Ashtech. The rebranding press release comes with the promise of new products and initiatives in 2010. On the heals of the December release of updates to the well reviewed (and personally liked) Mobile Mapper device, it is interesting to see what Ashtech will do with their new branding. In a professional market that may have pro-sumer potential there is a lot of room to grow.