OnStar vehicle tracking for owners

If you’re using the OnStar service, starting mid April this year you’ll be able to test the new feature which lets you track your own car.

The service will be available to OEM installations in vehicle as opposed to after market OnStar products.
The GPS tracking service from OnStar will be part of the Family Link service. For $4/month you’ll be able to log in to OnStar’s website and see the position of your vehicle online, and also setup text and email notifications regarding your vehicle’s position.

SimpleLink GPS CC4000

Texas Instruments just announced SimpleLink GPS CC4000 which brings GPS functionality to microcontroller based applications. Uses for the SimpleLink GPS CC4000 is pretty much countless. Think asset tracking, fitness, precision timing, etc. This is a self-contained module that operates with any microcontroller or a microprocessor.while sporting an aggressive, sub-100mm2 form factor. As a result, a wide range of customers gain the ultimate flexibility when designing GPS-based applications such as asset tracking, industrial M2M, sports and fitness, and precision timing.

SimpleLink GPS CC4000 can alone deliver better than 2.5 meter accuracy and can update position each second and promises an ultra-fast time to first fix (TTFF) while consuming little power.

GPS driving directions via haptic feedback steering wheel

AT&T Labs is working on a vibrating steering wheel that is supposed to be safer than looking at distracting on screen instructions when it comes to following GPS driving directions.

The idea is simple. The steering wheel is embedded with 20 actuators and a clockwise pattern means turn right, and a counter clockwise vibrating pattern means turn left. There are other planned features such as letting the driver know if there are any vehicles in their blind spot.

According to a study drivers of cars equipped with haptic feedback steering wheel were distracted less and their eyes were on the road for longer.

MOTOACTV Golf Edition

Motorola just introduced the MOTOACTV Golf Edition, a GPS Golf tracker and a virtual caddy all on your wrist. MOTOACTV Golf Edition knows about 20,000 courses worldwide where you can get the front, center and back distances to green and to hazards. The virtual caddy keeps track of scorecards, clubs and key statistics. Other useful stats include the ability to track data like total steps taken, distance covered and calories burned while on the green.

Not only that this GPS enabled golfers GPS knows about PAR information and acts as a virtual clubhouse, syncing wirelessly at MOTOACTV.com where you get a simulation of your round using a satellite view of the course.

MOTOACTV Golf Edition is already available for pre-order for $300 and they’ll be shipping on April 1st.

Pirate Bay to move their service to GPS controlled drones

File sharing torrent site Pirate Bay has been a victim of strict censorship over the last few months. They were raided very recently and their servers were shutdown. Now they are planning on having their servers hover in the air with GPS aided drones. This way the only way to shut them down would be to shoot them in the air!

They say they can use really cheap radio equipment and computers like Raspberry Pi and to build these Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) which can get them over 100Mbps per node up to 50km distance.

Here is a video taken from a similar drone for some entertainment:

Garmin rules GPS & Navigation Equipment category on Amazon

We just checked out the best sellers for GPS & Navigation Equipment category on Amazon and saw that Garmin has 18 spots in the top 20. Number one spot belongs to Garmin nüvi 1450LMT which is going for about $130 currently.

Not much changes when you look at top 40. Garmin has 34 products in the best selling GPS & Navigation category.

This really proves Garmin is the best name in U.S. when it comes to GPS navigation. This field has taken a big hit from smartphones these days but Garmin is really on top of their games since they also rule when it comes to GPS products in sports including running, swimming, cycling, golfing, and more, aviation products such as the aera line up or their flightdecks, marine GPS category with their GPSMAP lineup, and of course hiking, and outdoors with the eTrex and many more models.

We would love to call them a successful “U.S.” enterprise but their place of incorporation is Switzerland since 2010. Before that they were incorporated in Cayman Islands.

Seiko Astron – has GPS, knows your timezone

Seiko just announced the Seiko Astron a GPS-enabled wristwatch that supports up to 39 time zones in the world. The watch will be available this year in September.

Now the Seiko Astron does not really keep track of your location and send your location to a web service. It just uses the GPS to figure your time zone. It will come out in the US too for a price of approximately $1900.

When the Seiko Astron looks up your longitude and altitude by listening to the satellites in space it puts you in one of a million imaginary blocks. And since each of these blocks belong to a time zone it can automatically adjust itself.

In addition to GPS capabilities Seiko Astron also uses solar cells to charge its battery so in theory you never have to replace them. Astron uses a special GPS receiver which consumes about 80% less battery with its specially designed antenna.

TomTom to keep track of traffic in China

TomTom just landed a 7 year deal to deliver HD Traffic – which provides real time traffic updates – with its Chinese partner AutoNavi. They will start having vehicles on the roads starting in 2013. First of their customers is Qoros which is a joint venture between Chery Automobile and Israel Corp.

TomTom’s stock surged after the news which has been focusing on making deals, such as this, with car makers to provide in dash solutions and live traffic updates network.

Telit announces dual GPS Glonass module

Telit of Italy just announced a new dual mode module that listens to both GPS and GLONASS satellites. As you may know GLONASS is Russia’s alternative to US’s GPS constellation. The new module is called Jupiter SL869 and it can track up to 22 satellites as opposed to six or eight which is the norm for standard GPS. Some features SL869:

  • reduces the delay from several minutes to seconds for a navigation
  • reduces the incidence of lost satellite coverage by enabling additional satellite fixes that reduces blind spots
  • features “automatic jamming immunity,” automatically blocking up to eight radio frequency interferers

Garmin’s Navigon adding Google Street View to their app

Garmin (which now owns Navigon) just announced some new features for the NAVIGON app on iPhone and Android. For iPhone, starting later this spring, Navigon will provide street-level photo of users’ destination which they pull from Google Street View. We’re not sure if this is such a big deal since this street level photos of your destination were already available on your Android device if you used Google Maps or just your computer and this Street View photo some times does not help at all to get to your destination.

As far as improving the Navigon app on the Android side you’ll soon get the active lane assistant which provides animated views of complex intersections so you won’t miss a turn. Other improvements are the NAVIGON widget on your home screens to search for POIs, bluetooth integration for voice announcements, and a traffic check function.