Vibrating GPS rings – stylish and functional

Yes, that is right. A British designer, Gail Knight, has invented rings with embedded GPS that vibrates to help its wearer find their way in unfamiliar places. While stylish, they come in a pair, and you have to wear one on each hand, as well as a device controller (either around your neck or clipped on). The left or right rings buzz for turns, with a separate buzz for forward or back. When you’re going the wrong way, they both buzz to let you know.

No word on whether Gail has any plans to create a consumer version, so for now I guess we will all have to stick with our less-stylish paper maps, GPS receivers, smart phones, etc.

Via BBC News

Galileo-GPS agreement in the works

The US and EU are working out an agreement (that may be signed as early as this week) to allow both US GPS and EU Galileo satellites to send data on the same frequency, meaning that receivers would be able to get signals from both systems. In theory, this would potentially double the number of visible satellites for a receiver equipped to handle both GPS and Galileo data streams. Although the Galileo system won’t be operational until at least 2012, the agreement will likely be an impetus for manufacturers of receivers to begin to look at the production of devices that could utilize data from both systems.

Via Yahoo! News

Will TomTom’s Map Share herald the end of professional mapping?

In an article yesterday, PC Pro’s (a UK-based tech news site) Darien Graham-Smith comments on the upcoming release of TomTom’s “MapShare” technology (here’s my previous post), and predicts that its impact will be much more far-reaching than the fairly quiet launch announcement. He argues that this will break consumer SatNav systems’ reliance on commercial map updates, and allow “peer-to-peer cartography” to eventually lead to the end of professional cartographers – he goes so far as to say that Map Share is a “disaster for the cartographers.”

This is a debate that’s not just going on among professionals in geospatial technologies, but in many other fields as well, as Graham-Smith points out. We all know how the Internet has played a huge role in changing the way we interact with and access information of all kinds, including geographic information, and I don’t think anyone is crazy enough to try to predict with any certainty how this will all play out over the next decade. While I don’t necessarily agree with Graham-Smith when he predicts that this is the beginning of the end for professional cartographers, I do think that the next generation of geospatial professionals will work and interact in a very different world, and their experience and much higher comfort level with generating and consuming user-based content will also likely contribute to a changing definition of what it means to be an expert or professional, in terms of expert knowledge, content creation and the value of that knowledge or content.

TomTom’s new Map Share functionality – update your own maps

The new TomTom GO 520 and 720 models will feature a new functionality called “Map Share” will allow users to update their maps to reflect changes in the road network and use them for route planning and directions immediately, instead of waiting for updates from the company. In addition, the new system will allow users to sync their unit with their PC and upload changes to the Internet via TomTom’s HOME application. TomTom will certify users’ changes before adding them to their database or sharing them with other users, and the Map Share feature won’t replace the company’s own commercial updating system.

The new models are scheduled for release in the fall in the UK and Ireland, but no word on when or if they will make it to the US, and they are not yet featured on TomTom‘s website, but I’m curious to see how well the sharing aspect of the new functionality will work in practice.

Via PCPro

PlaceEngine – Sony’s non-GPS location technology

Back at the beginning of June, Sony released its PlaceEngine technology for use on its portable handheld device, the PSP, in Japan. PlaceEngine uses Wi-Fi signals to determine locations, but adds a twist by relying on the help of its users to add to and refine the accuracy of the Wi-Fi locations. PlaceEngine isn’t the first time we’ve seen this technology (Skyhook Wireless comes to mind), but with the outlet to the gaming users via Sony’s PSP, it is taking a different route to the consumer market.

The PlaceEngine website is in Japanese, but Digital World Tokyo has a good summary of the technology in its post about the Sony Computer Science Lab’s annual Open House in Tokyo and a nice image of the PlaceEngine display.

I’m posting about PlaceEngine today because the technology is generating a lot of buzz outside Sony gaming circles, and Digital World Tokyo also reports that Japanese mapping company Edia, which provides navigation software for many devices in the Japanese market, will be releasing a new software product, Pro Atlas Travel Guide, that will incorporate Sony’s technology and make use of the collaborative mapping functionality of PlaceEngine. It will first be available on UMD disk for the PSP in Japan, but expectations are that Edia may also incorporate PlaceEngine functionality into future release of its navigation software for other Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as smartphones.

Also via Product Reviews Net and I4U News

Mio GPS reviewed on InDigital

enterprise eOK, it is fun to see a review of the Mio Digiwalker on InDigital video podcast Episode 15 (around 11:00 minutes), but really, it is the fact that Wil Wheaton (yes, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: TNG) pronounces TeleAtlas as the

“…very best commercial mapping company in the universe…”

I would have to say that Wil is one of the few people who can make this distinction…especially if they used TeleAtlas data for navigating the USS Enterprise.

In Digital