TomTom Mapshare now open to all TomTom owners

TomTom just announced that they’re enabling all of its 60 million GPS navigation systems to receive daily map changes via the TomTom Map Share community. If you haven’t heard of Map Share before; it is a crowd sourced system that allows drivers to update TomTom map on their own device, but also receive changes from other TomTom users.

With Map Share drivers can quickly share frequent road changes. Some longer term changes such as new roads or roundabouts are validated via TomTom and made available quarterly.

Duke and Google improve indoor positioning

GPS works really well outdoors. Achieving same accuracy indoors however is not as easy.

Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, funded by Google is working on a system where users can rely on their smartphones to locate their position in a covered environment. It is dubbed UnLoc. The idea behind it is analogous to how people use landmarks in outdoor environments. But they take advantage of invisible landmarks in indoor environments that your phone can sense. These could be distinct motion signatures created by elevators or stairwells, because the phone can detect motion, or certain dead spots where WiFi or 3G signals are absent.

Once such an invisible landmark is sensed, the phone can infer its current location, and then track its path from that point forward using motion sensors (such as accelerometers, compasses and gyroscopes). The tracking may become inaccurate over time, but as the phone hits other landmarks, it continuously corrects its location.

The application does not need any previous knowledge of the environment which is known as wardriving. It is a recursive application that gets better and better as it is used. It also requires less energy since it doesn’t rely on GPS signals to figure out your location. It’s been tested in a mall and it can achieve 1.6 meter accuracy.

The development of the UnLoc technique was supported by the National Science Foundation and Google.

Bia GPS watch now on Kickstarter

Bia is a GPS enabled sports watch made by women for women. They’re on Kickstarter now looking for some funding. So far they have about 25% of their requested $400K.

The Bia GPS sports watch is multisport device with ANT+ connection option which claims that it is like no other. Here are the features:

  • Safety alert for peace of mind on solo workouts
  • Quick-connect GPS; no more time wasted “finding satellites”
  • Data to your online training log; no more time wasted “sync’ing”
  • iPod-like ease of use; just one button and a touchscreen
  • Water resistance to 100M; full GPS tracking when you swim

Bia is ergonomically designed for the left wrist but it flip so you can also wear it on your right wrist.

If you think this product will be a hit you should go to Kickstarter and back them up.

new Cobra 8000 GPS navigation for truck drivers

Cobra has a brand new GPS navigation system for truckers. It is called 8000 PRO HD, 7″ GPS Navigation for Professional Drivers with Lifetime Maps and Live Traffic. As you may already guessed this GPS navigation system has a 7″ high definition screen.

With the 8000 PRO HD a truck driver can enter truck’s height, weight, length, width, and be safely and legally routed to their destination on time. Some other features of the Cobra 8000 Pro HD include free live traffic updates, free map updates, junction view to assist at big highway intersections, mileage log capability for IFTA reporting, on-duty off-duty time tracking and the AURA Speed & Red Light Camera Database that warns for speed & red light cameras, caution areas, and known speed traps.

Garmin Swim (no GPS here)

Garmin just recently announced Garmin Swim, a sports watch targeting swimmers that can also be used as an everyday watch. Garmin Swim will be ready to use as soon as you enter the length of the pool you’re in and then it will keep track of stroke type, stroke count, distance, pace, lengths and more. You’re probably expecting this Garmin Swim to be GPS enabled but you’re wrong. There’s no GPS receiver in this time piece and the battery will last you about a year.

Some of the features of Garmin swim include the ability to figure out the stroke you are using, log drills or start timed sets without constantly monitoring the pool clock. If you’re seriously training for something Garmin Swim will even display your weekly accumulated distance to keep you motivated.

Garmin Swim is already available for $150.

drones prone to GPS spoofing

Researchers in Austin Radionavigation Lab successfully showed that an unmanned drone with an unencrypted GPS system can be hijacked with GPS spoofing device.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wanted to see if anyone had the capability to pull this off and invited scientists to show their skills. What the scientists did was to matched-GPS-signal-structure of the transmission and interfere in an attempt to control the receiver. This spoofer can transmit its counterfeit signals from a stand-off distance of several hundred meters or it can be co-located with its victim.

The UT researchers took equipment costing about $1000 to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico last week and showed observers from both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and DHS how control of a test drone could be taken away from its original overseers.

Considering that hundreds of drones will be flying in the USA within the next decade, the ability to easily spoof them is a bit disconcerting. Of course since similar technology can be used on other vehicles that deploy unencrypted GPS navigation such as planes, ships, etc..

JetBlue Airlines will use navigation system to save on fuel

JetBlue got its approval from FAA to use their new navigation system to save fuel and time when landing in New York. We reported on Southwest Airlines doing something similar about 2 years ago but it looks like this will be a first for JFK airport.

Using the new navigation system will allow the pilot use a shorter path during landing which will save time and about 18 gallons of jet fuel (~$50?) for each flight. At the same time it should help the congestion at the airport to some degree. Another advantage in using the new navigation system will be the ability make landings in weather conditions that previously didn’t allow pilots to attempt.

some thoughts on Garmin, TomTom, and Apple

A short and sweet article on InvestorPlace about Garmin, TomTom, and Apple.

Prior to the advent of smartphones in 2007 with the debut of the first iPhone, Garmin was the name in portable global positioning systems (you know, GPS) and satellite-guided driving directions. However, once consumers started to realize smartphones could do the same — as well as play music, be a flashlight and even test the ripeness of a watermelon — the choice became something of a no-brainer: Smartphones win, and Garmin devices lose. The sales numbers and Garmin’s stock price since then have somewhat — though not radically — reflected that opinion.

Apple licences maps with TomTom, Garmin stock lower

Apple just unveiled iOS6 couple of days ago. One of the things we were looking forward to was the new Maps feature in iOS6. The new feature in iOS will stop using Google Maps and will apparently use maps data from TomTom along with map related data. We’re not sure what Apple will be using to generate turn by turn directions when the OS will be released in fall though.

TomTom shares rose 25% within the last 5 days where as Garmin shares lost 5%.

new GPS watch from Nike and Tomtom

Nike just unveiled their new site and at the same time -with TomTom- announced a new models for the Nike+ SportWatch series.

The new thing Nike came up with is Nikefuel which is pretty much your mileage turned into a universal units that also apply to other sports. This way you can have a swimmer compete with a runner somehow.

They have new colors out for the Nike+ Sportwatch which now include black/anthracite, anthracite/blue glow and volt green. The starting price for the entry level one is $150. This does not come with a shoe sensor but it supports it if you decide to buy it after the fact. If you want to get both the shoe sensor and the watch then you’re going to have to pay $169.