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Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS camera

This is a very well designed GPS camera from Pentax. It’s their 13th generation model with super rugged features. It has a backlit 16MP CMOS sensor, can resist depths of 40 feet under water, shock proof to 5 feet, can operate in temperatures as low as 14F (-10C), and is dustproof. It has a wide angle internal zoom, 3″ LCD, and the ability to shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second.

Optio WG-2 has 6 macro LEDs which is used digital microscope mode that is accompanied with a macro focus ring so you can get as close as 1cm to your subject.

The GPS feature lets you record positional data with images for geo-tagging applications, as well as position logging and flexible time sync when traveling.

Garmin zumo 350LM

Garmin announced the zūmo 350LM GPS navigator for motorcyclists. It mounts on the handle bars and is waterproof. Garmin zumo 350LM is going to be available in the 3rd quarter of 2012 and will cost $700. Here are some of the features and facts for Garmin zumo 350LM:

  • Highly visible, sunlight-readable 4.3″ glove-friendly touchscreen display
  • Waterproof to IPX7; built tough with fuel-resistant plastics
  • turn-by-turn spoken directions with a Bluetooth-enabled helmet or headset
  • Speed limit indicator
  • Preview services at highway exits
  • Lane assist with junction view

zūmo 350LM comes with lifetime map updates for North America and/or Europe.

Magellan RoadMate Commercial 9270T-LM: GPS navigation for trucks

Magellan recently announced Magellan RoadMate Commercial 9270T-LM GPS device which is designed for truckers supporting a large 7″ display, customizable truck-specific routing, hands-free communication and trip logging. With the 9270-LM from Magellan drivers can enter the height, weight, width and length of their vehicle, in addition to potential hazmat restrictions. Also another important feature for this GPS navigation system is the multi-destination routing so drivers can plan their stops and optimize routes.

Other features of the Magellan RoadMate Commercial 9270T-LM include bluetooth connectivity which when paired with a compatible phone, enables drivers to talk hands-free.

The device also gets some tedious work done too. It helps prepare required compliance reports including hours and state mileage for IFTA fuel records.

There are currently two GPS navigation systems in this family: The 7-inch Magellan RoadMate Commercial 9270T-LM for $400 and the 5-inch Magellan RoadMate Commercial 5190T for $380.

new Garmins for India: nuvi40LM and nuvi50LM

Garmin is looking to grow its market share in India with two new GPS navigation systems: nuvi40LM and nuvi50LM. They are priced at Rs 8,450 and Rs 9,990 respectively. Users will get 4 free map updates every year.

Some features of Garmin nuvi40LM and nuvi50LM:

  • 4.3″ widescreen LCD display for nuvi40LM and 5″ for nuvi50LM
  • Junction view
  • Lane info
  • House search to help find unevenly distributed house numbers
  • Highway mode
  • text-to-speech feature
  • voice guidance in English and Hindi

new 6″ GPS navigation systems from TomTom

TomTom has some new GPS navigation systems out. What’s common among these units is that they boast a big 6″ screen - biggest ever for TomTom so far.

These big screen GPS navigation systems from TomTom will be part of the TomTom Start lineup in Europe and TomTom Via in the U.S.

In Europe TomTom Start 60 will offer new dual mounting system which gives you the option to go with either the windshield or the dash. TomTom Start 60 will have lifetime free daily map updates and will cost about EUR 200 or GBP 170.

Some other features of the TomTom Start 60 include advanced lane guidance to help with difficult junctions, IQ routes that keep you informed on traffic updates, spoken street names, and more.

In the US of A the story is about the same only with a different name: TomTom VIA 160. This one is already available on Amazon for $230.

DR+GPS (dead reckoning + global positioning system)

Trimble introduced the new Aardvark DR+GPS module that brings together Dead Reckoning (DR) and Global Positioning System (GPS) on a single unit. The DR part becomes very important when GPS signals are weak, such as in tunnels or in big cities where skyscrapers block the sky. Aardvark DR+GPS module is geared towards system integrators or OEMs that need dead reckoning capabilities to vehicle navigation, fleet management and asset tracking systems.

Dead reckoning is the method used to guess one’s position based on direction and distance traveled since the last known position. If you have an accurate reading of the speed, time and heading, then dead reckoning will be accurate - or at least give you an idea until GPS signal available again.

The 19mm x 19mm surface mount module has an on-board gyro and collects speed and forward/reverse data from the vehicle’s sensors. Its sophisticated DR+GPS algorithm automatically calibrates the gyro and external sensors’ inputs and optimally blends this information with GPS measurements to produce accurate position and velocity outputs in hostile GPS environments such as urban canyons.

Seven new GPS navigation systems from Magellan

Magellan today announced its new Magellan RoadMate portable automobile navigation family. As of this moment we don’t have product images but we’ll update as soon as we get our hands on them.

The new models are the following:

  • RoadMate 2210 – 4.3 inch
  • RoadMate 2210T – 4.3 inch with Lifetime Traffic Alerts
  • RoadMate 2220-LM – 4.3 inch with Lifetime Map Updates (up to four times a year)
  • RoadMate 2230T-LM – 4.3 inch with Lifetime Map Updates and Lifetime Traffic Alerts
  • RoadMate 5220-LM – 5 inch with Lifetime Map Updates
  • RoadMate 5230T-LM – 5 inch with Lifetime Map Updates and Lifetime Traffic Alerts
  • RoadMate 5235T-LM – 5 inch with Lifetime Map Updates, Lifetime Traffic Alerts and Protective Sleeve

The prices range from $100 to $170 and all new Magellan RoadMate’s are preloaded with maps of the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

What’s interesting with the new Magellan series is that it’s going to use - in addition to traditional street names - landmarks as guidance. Such as “turn left at the gas station” or any other easily visible landmark such as banks, etc.

The new models also feature traffic camera alerts which you get for free in the first year. You also have the junction view feature which lets you look at busy intersections in a way so you don’t panic and drive off to the side of the road.

Another new feature is the integration of which can help you easily find a parking spot. You also get speed limit assist and AAA TourBook content.

NASA’s READI GPS earthquake detection system

Nasa is testing a GPS monitoring for earthquakes in the western U.S. The goal of the system is to quickly find location and magnitude of earthquakes across the western United States. The system is called READI Mitigation Network which stands for Real-time Earthquake Analysis for Disaster. If it works correctly it could also help with early tsunami warnings.

There will be about 500 stations in California, Oregon, and Washington which can detect the characteristics of a quake which includes things like location, magnitude, and the fault rupture.

READI is designed for earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or larger. Current technology to detect the size and location of a earthquake to predict tsunamis is not very accurate and only relies on measuring ground shaking. The new technology will be high precision and detect ground displacement via GPS. Ground deformation will be looked at by this system which will reduce the time needed to find out about the damage from a quake.

Suunto Ambit vs Suunto X10

Years ago we reviewed the Suunto X10. Earlier this year Suunto announced a new GPS watch called Suunto Ambit. We will be getting a Suunto Ambit to do a in-depth review but before that let’s do a side by side specs comparison. See this image below:

As you can see from this image there are some major differences between X10 and Ambit. Ambit does a much better job at keeping track of altitude changes. Ambit has automatic alti/baro switch and real-time vertical cumulative value and can report on your total ascent descent. As far as direction - Ambit wins again since it has the 3D digital compass.

In the heart rate tracking department Suunto Ambit boast ANT support where as Suunto X10 doesn’t. You can also use heart rate belts with Ambit. Both of these GPS watches are water resistant to 100 meters and weigh about the same weight.

In reporting weather Ambit and X10 do about the same. However Ambit has a barometer resolution of 1hPa/0.03 inHg.

IPS: next generation of GPS for smartphones

IPS is indoor (internal) positioning system. Since weak signals from GPS and GLONASS can not penetrate buildings here on Earth you end up with really crappy positioning if you’re indoors. IPS can change that and give you a much faster position fix and resolution. It mostly relies on WiFi signals to figure out where you are but there’s really no standard. It can also use Bluetooth or even near field communication signals provided there’s a database that knows where these signals are generated from.

Google for example just released an app that attempts to crowd source this effort. Users can download an app on their Android phone called Google Maps Floor Plan Marker. With this app users are asked (usually the venue owner) to move around the space after uploading a blueprint. The app uses map matching to calibrate the RF, and WiFi signals against the existing map uploaded by the venue owner to Google servers.

To help all this effort Broadcom has a brand new receiver called BCM4752 that supports surveying of all these signals on smartphones.

The Broadcom chip supports IPS through WiFi, Bluetooth, and even NFC. More importantly, though, the chip also ties in with other sensors, such as a phone’s gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and altimeter. Acting like a glorified pedometer, this Broadcom chip could almost track your movements without wireless network triangulation. It simply has to take note of your entry point (via GPS), and then count your steps (accelerometer), direction (gyroscope), and altitude (altimeter).