GPS Starts Failing in 2010?

Switched online is reporting an article in the UK’s The Guardian that GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as 2010.  They note that the Air Force maintains the satellite network and was supposed to launch the first replacement in 2007… which it promtly didn’t do.  The satellites have been up there for up to 20 years, so they’re about due for a replacement.  The Guardian is certainly targeted at a more general audience so it’s not suprising they’re missing some details.  For instance, there are a LOT of GPS satellites up there, so the loss of a few isn’t the end of the technology.  Also, the LANDSAT program proves that satellites are often built “like they use to” as the euphamism goes.  Still, it’s a good reminder that a lot of the basic technology infrastructure on which we all rely needs to be maintained every bit as much as roads and bridges.

Using location technology to study asthma triggers

If you suffer from any kind of allergy or serious respiratory problem like asthma, you know that there are many environmental factors that can trigger these conditions, and they vary from place to place. David Sickle, from the Department of Population Health Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is looking to utilize GPS technology to help him study the spatial distribution of asthma triggers. He is working with biomedical engineering students to develop an asthma inhaler with built-in GPS capabilities. The idea is that when the inhaler is used, the location and time can be recorded and that information can be used along with other data to try to both understand the conditions that may have caused the attack, and to identify locations that may be danger zones for asthma sufferers.

Although the project is still in its early stages, it is a really innovative idea for using location-based technologies to try to understand a complex problem, and hopefully the project team will provide updates on how the study progresses.

via CNET

Location on your phone?

Sue and Frank gave e gruff on this week’s episode about the volume of location apps I have (or at least had) on my phone, so i decided to share the current list and ask others what location apps they are running. I have reduced the number of apps substantially. At one time I had all 8 pages (the max you can have on the iPhone) filled with location apps, free and otherwise, but I am down to only seven location apps:

Maps, GPS Tracker, BrightKite, EarthScape, Google Earth, OSM Track, TrackMe, and a number of apps that can pull location for various tasks.

I can’t even say that I use all of these that often. The question for you though, is what apps to you have installed on your mobile device and how often do you use them?

Apple continues down the location road

As you are hearing everywhere today (glad I could add to the noise 🙂 ) Apple, Inc has announced some interesting location features to their iLife ’09 applications. iPhoto adds geotag support (along with direct connection to flickr and Facebook) which can be used to create maps (in iPhoto) of picture locations and to create maps that you can include in the photobooks that you can create with iPhoto. This is a great application of fairly straightforward technologies. The picture locations interface really looks like it took a que from Magrathea (or whatever is it called now) and is a fairly GISy interface.


photos from gizmodo

In iMovie they added a great little effect for folks making travel videos. You can drag and drop a map with locations chosen and iMovie will apparently create and pan and zoom effect movie clip between the locations. I promise to use this sparingly when I get hold of the software 🙂

Core Location, geotagging and maps in iLife. These are great steps by a big company. I hope they are just the tip of the location iceberg for Apple.

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

Mobile Millennium Project – cell phone-based traffic monitoring network

UC Berkeley, partnering with Nokia and Navteq, have been working on a project to use GPS data from cell phones to create a traffic monitoring network that will allow users to get real-time traffic conditions, as well as relay their own information to the network. Dubbed the Mobile Millennium Project, a public beta will be launching on Monday in the San Francisco Bay area and, if you live in the area, you can participate by signing up at the project’s website. If not, they’ll be streaming live video of the launch starting at 8:30am PST on Monday, so you won’t missing a single exciting minute!

Via Gizmodo

Geode starts the conversation

I have to say that Mozilla Labs Geode has kicked up some good questions over on the Geowanking listserv. The most important, I think, is the discussion on the W3C geolocation standard and the fact that it is meant to be an API for grabbing device location information, not for storing. This means that the W3C standard is not meant to compete with existing data standards such as KML, GeoRSS, etc. Geode then is a tool that allows you to use wifi (aka Skyhook Wireless) location technologies to capture your location on sites that are location (Geode) enabled. I have only used Geode on the Mozilla Labs site and Fire Eagle, but it seems quite functionable with these sites. The short coming is that it only compatible with Firefox, but what LBS aficionado doesn’t at least have Firefox installed for occasional use.

I am curious to see how folks compare this to Skyhook’s own Loki toolbar.

Mozilla Labs » Geode: Welcome

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.

Location-based Gaming overview

Katharine over at ChannelFlip games does a great job of giving a run down of Location-based Gaming for the general gaming public. She talks about the history of LBG’s (apologies if I just made that up) and location technologies, as well as a few examples of LBG’s. I have to say this was a great treat from one of the non-Geo podcasts I follow.

Sprint and Geobrowsing Launch Next Month

Sprint is rolling out its WiMAX XOHM 4G network next month, starting in Baltimore. Why would our readers care? Because a prime function they’re heralding is what they call “geobrowsing” (which is a HECK of a lot easier to say than ‘WiMAX XOHM 4G’). The basic concepts are nothing new to anyone familiar with LBS in the general. A GPS signal will feedback constantly to back end applications and the network can return traffic, news, local business information, weather… you know, the standards. The really interesting part is that Sprint is rolling in a sort of revenue sharing model for third party developers for this new network. That means that not only do you have an API you can tap into, you have a mechanism to get a rolling revenue stream. That’s gotta be pretty exciting to anyone looking to do a LBS app. The down side to end users is that, like everything else on Sprint, it means more money 🙁 However, they do plan on having day/week passes in case you’re going on vacation and want to use the service. Next time I’m in Baltimore, I might have to look it up!