Treo GPS: Future Connected Services
Among the companies that I met at Innovate! Europe last week was a French startup called NAVX that develops Value-Added GPS Services. NAVX greatly spiked my curiousity because I believe that it helps to illustrate the possibilities that ‘Connected Devices’ such as our Treo have to offer.
As most Treonauts will know well by now I have been a very strong advocate (see Treo GPS: My Favourite Accessory of the Year) of GPS solutions for the Treo – a service which doesn’t cease to amaze me every time I use it and that has saved me from getting utterly lost in the middle of nowhere on numerous occasions (see Ahead of Time With My Treo 650 GPS).
Having said this however there is always room for improvement. The installation could be easier (TomTom and Palm are working on this as we speak), the actual GPS units could be even lighter and smaller (shrinking by the year) or even better directly built-in our Treo (soon?…) and finally TomTom’s application could do more to use the wireless data connectivity found on the Treo to provide additional value-added services.
This last enhancement is where a company such as NAVX comes in and which the existing TomTom PLUS Personal Navigation Services has also begun to address.
Both services start by providing you with the option to add additional ‘voices’ for your navigation software – TomTom’s for example offers the hilarious voice of John Cleese that can quickly help to “turn a boring journey into something a bit more interesting”. Apparently the male or female voices that come preinstalled with GPS solutions are the single largest source of discontent for people – even though I am personally rather happy with the ‘British Lady’ on my TomTom Navigator 5 GPS Bundle.
Next is a Safety/Speed Camera service (not yet available in the US) which will alert you ahead of time of their location on your current route. However, considering that ‘fixed’ speed cameras/radars often account for only 10% of the total NAVX is already preparing to dynamically add the location of ‘mobile’ radars with data provided wirelessly by their clients via an on-screen button creating a sort of ‘live tracking community’ from which everyone can benefit.
A slightly more complex endeavour is related to Traffic – particularly when it comes to so-called ‘dynamic routing’. Typically most live traffic data covers only a small proportion – some 10% – of a geographic area. NAVX is therefore planning to add live data for the remaining 90% from what they term ‘Trackers’ – people who are willing to share all their traffic data in return for free or highly subsidized access to their service. The aggregate traffic data provided by all of these Trackers combined with the data from Mobile Base Stations (giving a live cell reading of the number of drivers concentrated in a particular area) can be used to deliver a truly efficient dynamic real-time routing in the future.
TomTom PLUS currently offers other value-added services such as: the free TomTom HOME software for Windows and Mac to among others plan routes on your PC before departure; adding more Maps of cities around the world; adding Points of Interest; Audiobooks which offers Audible content (not yet for Treo); the free Buddies service which combines GPS navigation with instant messaging; the Routes service (available soon) optimized for ‘scenic’ biker routes but also for car and even bicycle; Weather; additional Color Schemes and finally the QuickGPSfix helps you to fix your position and get navigating much faster (similar to the SiRFInstantFix technology which I wrote about previously).
NAVX for its part envisages its future services developing further around, on the one hand, their community with personal user-generated content (such as photos, videos and text ‘geotagged’ on a Google Earth map displaying route data from your car trips) to document car journeys (see a company called MotionBased to get an idea). On the other hand, ‘professional’ content such as restaurants and hotels listings can also be added. The aggregated content generated by all users can then become a ‘destination’ of its own and of interest to all in the community.
Some people may disagree but I personally believe that the future of GPS navigation is inextricably linked to the mobile phone – particularly large screen and high resolution devices such as our Treo – which benefit from wireless data connectivity that can be utilized to provide value-added GPS services such as those offered by NAVX and TomTom. Without a doubt there will certainly be a lot of very exciting developments in the Treo GPS space in the times ahead…
If you don’t already own a Treo GPS Navigation solution I cannot more highly recommend that you take it for a spin – I guarantee that once you get started this is one accessory that you will definitely want to keep.
Treonauts always want services from the future…