Field Assets for the iPhone

IMG_0349With the large number of location apps on the iPhone and other mobile devices out there, it surprises me that there are so few (handful by my account) professional quality apps. Tonight’s round of press release emails included an intriguing mobile solution. The iPhone/iPod Touch application is called Field Assets and was developed by LBS Wireless which is another of those Aussie/US companies that seem to be popping up lately.

The app’s name (Field Assets) captures its utility, it is for capturing and assessing assets. The demo video used poweline/telephone poles, but I can see a wide area of applications for it. The app utilizes location, image, and audio capture to assist in recording information about assets. While for the iPhone the app is moderately expensive, the ginormous price of $12.99 means you have to eat lunch in one day.

I hope to see more mobile apps that support professionals niches on WinMo, Blackberry, Palm, Android or iPhone. Give us a shout if you have a professional mobile app that you use out in the field.

Cops Can’t Track Car with GPS Without Warrent

The Electronic Frontier Foundation had an interesting piece about two weeks ago that I just ran across.  The Supreme Court of Massachusetts recently ruled that it is against their state constitution for the police to track a vehicle using GPS without court approval.  The interesting thing here is that the crux of their rationale is that the scale of GPS is too great that it interferes with the owner’s “possessory interest”.  To be honest, my understanding of the law is weak enough that I’m not sure what “possessory interest” means and why GPS violates it.  However, older US Supreme Court cases from the ’70’s ruled that beepers were permissible by the police without owner permission.  Basically because GPS is more powerful and more exactly, it is a bigger threat.  New York has similarly ruled that as well.

All in all, the case only has jurisdiction in Massachusetts, but it might set a precedent that Federal courts could follow.

EGNOS Goes Active

The precursor to the EU’s Galileo satellite positioning, EGNOS is now live for 27 EU states!  The basic idea behind the system is to take the US’s GPS system and make it more accurate – from 60 feet to 6 feet.  This will be a big boon to navigation system in the EU since they’re already EGNOS capable (at least most of them).

Turn-by-turn on your (i)Phone

Electronista posted suggesting that TomTom might be hiring an iPhone dev to create a turn-by-turn app for the upcoming iPhone 3.0 OS/firmware/whatever. While I am pretty sure that if TomTom was building an iPhone app (and they probably are) they wouldn’t need to hire outside devs, the real issue is whether or not turn-by-turn on your cell phone is the best option. We have had the “all-in-one vs many devices” conversation a couple of times on the podcast with no real lead on either side, but I still lean toward one device to always have with you (the ever growing ‘swiss army’ phone approach) and a device that does the job well. My iPhone is great at being a phone and a pocket computer, but is mediocre at GPS, pictures, recording audio…and still can’t do many things like video. But I don’t need it to do everything well since I have a camera, an audio recorder, a video camera, etc that I take with me when I need them.
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Trendwatching predicts Mapmania for 2009

Yes, I am finally back online after a week with limited internet and then a brief bout of cold/flu. I was going over this year’s predictions on all sorts of tech sights, and the list at Trendwatching.com had “Mapmania” as their number 5 consumer trend for the new year. Big surprise for most of us, I know, but I just had to post this quote from their entry-

Will 2009 be the year in which all things ‘contextual’, ‘app’, ‘local’, ‘urban’, ‘tags’, ‘lidar’, ‘smartphone’, ‘convenience’, ‘Cell ID’, ‘spontaneity’, ‘infolust’, and ‘GPS’ come together in one orgasmic celebration of map-based tracking, finding, knowing and connecting?

And I say Yes!, let the Mapmania begin!

Via Poynter Online

OSMTrack – OSM data collection on the iPhone

While looking through the new apps feed for the iPhone this morning I came across the OSMTrack app. OSMTrack is an application that allows you to use the iPhone 3G’s GPS to capture tracks and waypoints and upload them directly from the iPhone to the OpenStreetMap servers. Other than heading over and registering for an OpenStreetMap account if you do not have one, and entering the information under Settings on the iPhone, you are ready to go once you have downloaded the app. The interface appears straightforward though I haven’t had a chance to take it out for a trip yet to test it. If it is as simple as it appears I will definitely be submitting WV data to OSM in the near future.

Visit iTunes to download OSMTrack

GPS Signals Can Be Spoofed

Researchers are Cornell have discovered that GPS signals can be spoofed! By placing a signal near the receiving device, gradually the navigation device would accept the spoofed signal as real. The article doesn’t say exactly how near “near” is, but I’d bet that it would have to be at least a couple dozen yards or more for this to be effective. Apparently the researchers are confident they could get around any protections suggested by the DOD back in 2003!

Does anyone start thinking of the bad guys in Die Hard 2 when they think about this? It’s kinda scary to think about from a safety point of view. However, I’m equally confident that someone industrious will use it to muck up location based services so that all queries for “Joe’s Pizza” in such and such area get diverted to “Bob’s Pizza” instead.

A New GPS System…. On the Moon?

Engadget is reporting an interesting new system that’s being created. Researchers over at Ohio State University (a hop, skip, and 4 hour drive from here) are attempting to make a GPS like system for navigation on the moon. The system is supposed to be ready by 2020, and the linked article from Engadget’s site says the team is working on making lunar navigation less frustrating than its terrestrial counterpart. The quotes state they’re hoping “to avoid the stress of getting lost, or getting frustrated with the equipment” with their research. As one who’s dealt with technology gadgets pretty much his whole life, I wish the researchers luck, but I have to say that’s one big charge to take on. Here’s hoping some of their research makes it back to the consumer side before 2020!