Posts Tagged ‘gps’

Online Maps: Everyman Offers New Directions (NY Times)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

zooatlantabeforeatlantazooopenstreetmap[Editor's note: As my music prof was want to remind, the only difference between amateur and professional is one gets paid and the other doesn't. My hope is Google Maps starts offering user-generated geodata back to the community, like OpenStreetMap.org now does. Left image is before community edits, right is after. Thanks Nora!]

Republished from the New York Times.

SAN FRANCISCO — They don’t know it, but people who use Google’s online maps may be getting directions from Richard Hintz.

Mr. Hintz, a 62-year-old engineer who lives in Berkeley, Calif., has tweaked the locations of more than 200 business listings and points of interest in cities across the state, sliding an on-screen place marker down the block here, moving another one across the street there. Farther afield, he has mapped parts of Cambodia and Laos, where he likes to go on motorcycle trips.

Mr. Hintz said these acts of geo-volunteerism were motivated in part by self-interest: he wants to know where he’s going. But “it has this added attraction that it helps others,” he said.

Mr. Hintz is a foot soldier in an army of volunteer cartographers who are logging every detail of neighborhoods near and far into online atlases. From Petaluma to Peshawar, these amateurs are arming themselves with GPS devices and easy-to-use software to create digital maps where none were available before, or fixing mistakes and adding information to existing ones.

Like contributors to Wikipedia before them, they are democratizing a field that used to be the exclusive domain of professionals and specialists. And the information they gather is becoming increasingly valuable commercially.

Google, for example, sees maps playing a growing strategic role in its business, especially as people use cellphones to find places to visit, shop and eat. It needs reliable data about the locations of businesses and other destinations.

“The way you get that data is having users precisely locate things,” said John Hanke, a vice president of product management who oversees Google’s mapping efforts.

People have been contributing information to digital maps for some time, building displays of crime statistics or apartment rentals. Now they are creating and editing the underlying maps of streets, highways, rivers and coastlines.

“It is a huge shift,” said Michael F. Goodchild, a professor of geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “This is putting mapping where it should be, which is the hands of local people who know an area well.”

That is changing the dynamics of an industry that has been dominated by a handful of digital mapping companies like Tele Atlas and Navteq.

Google is increasingly bypassing those traditional map providers. It has relied on volunteers to create digital maps of 140 countries, including India, Pakistan and the Philippines, that are more complete than many maps created professionally.

Last month Google dropped Tele Atlas data from its United States maps, choosing to rely instead on government data and other sources, including updates from users.

“They have coverage in areas that the big mapping guys don’t have,” said Mike Dobson, a mapping industry consultant who once worked at Rand McNally. “It has the opportunity to cause a lot of disruption in these industries.”

Continue reading at New York Times . . .

Google details Maps Navigation for Android, iPhone (Electronista)

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: As this YouTube video shows, Google's self-branded map navigation app for their Android series of phones includes some first-for-free features like natural voice search, turn-by-turn using a street view overlay, and instant rerouting. First for the 'droids, next for the iPhones.]

Republished from electronista.

Google today provided added details of the turn-by-turn mapping service found on the Motorola Droid. Google Maps Navigation adds many of the features that would normally exist in a dedicated GPS unit, such as a bird’s-eye view and spoken directions, but takes advantage of Google’s existing Maps features. Traffic is free in those areas where Google provides service, and Street View can show directions overlaid on top of in-location photos.

Search is naturally rolled into Navigation and lets drivers use voice or typed commands to navigate to a location by search criteria rather than a specific address. Long-distance travelers can launch a search in mid-drive and find just the points of interest close to the already planned route.

Google Maps Navigation ships first on the Droid as a beta but will be available for all Android 2.0 devices. The company also says it’s cooperating with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone through its built-in Maps tool but hasn’t given a timetable for when it expects the feature to be ready.

The unveiling is a potential coup for Google. Although RIM’s BlackBerry line and most GPS-aware Nokia phones include company-made turn-by-turn apps, these either have limited functionality or require a paid subscription to work properly. Google Maps requires an active Internet connection to download map data but is otherwise free to use where most stand-alone apps, including for the iPhone, often carry a significant initial fee and often charge extra for future map updates.

read-write mapping: NACIS Conference Keynote by Michal Migurski of Stamen Design

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

[Editor's note: I'm just getting back from the annual NACIS conference and decompressing from backpacking, family and friends in the Golden State. Our great keynote speaker this year was Michal Migurski of Stamen Design who talked up the OpenStreetMap project. Mike has also been kind enough to help out with the Natural Earth Data site which will go live in another couple weeks once Tom and I have polished the data. Without further ado, the keynote...]

Republished from tecznotes.

[clip] I used the opportunity to talk about the fascinating OpenStreetMap project, specifically the ways in which it’s useful to a cartography audience and how that audience could benefit the project. This last thing in particular is what I closed with: I think the online face of OSM’s rendered tiles could use serious input from the NACIS community, particularly at the kinds of medium scales where the highly-detailed data blurs into “features”. Much of this happens by-hand in tools like Adobe Illustrator from what I can tell, a very different workflow from the industrial automation offered by my favorite stand-by, Mapnik.

This is a talk about a new awareness of maps and geography, and a change in attitudes toward maps.

I’m going start with a small detour here to tell you about an online phenomenon that’s going on four or so years now, called Unboxing. Unboxing is a kind of geek striptease, described in one site’s tagline as a “vicarious thrill from opening new gear”.

Unboxing is a response to the meticulous packaging of modern electronics gear, most notably Apple’s range of iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers – careful design is invested in the packaging, and careful appreciation is invested in its removal.

Why unboxing? Two aspects of the trend seem relevant here.

First, it’s a new kind of visibility into the fan club culture around popular electronics, allowing users to elevate their own appreciation of a mass-market good into a social experience. I remember bicycling past the Apple Store and the Cingular store on San Francisco’s Market St. on the day the iPhone was released. There were enormous lines in front of each, and as customers picked up their new iPhones they’d walk out the door, break into a jog, and high-five the remainder of the line. The division between fan and star here evaporates.

Second, the delivery mechanism for this fan-produced culture tends to be online sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the “Read Write Web”, the now-familiar pattern of web-based communities formed around the creation and sharing of social objects like photos and videos.

One effect of these online communities is a new and durable awareness of the process behind creative production. Pages on Flickr or YouTube follow a pattern you’re probably familiar with: title in the upper-left, main “thing” just below that, and to the right at the same level of importance, the person who made it for you. Responsibility and provenance along with all the messiness and point-of-view are built-in assumptions.

In the world of text, we see this same pattern on Wikipedia.

This is the History Flow project from Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas at IBM, which shows edits to a single Wikipedia article over time as threads and contributions from a group of editors.

Like this one, each article has been beaten into shape over time by a group of people following loose rules of cooperation, so each page has an associated “Talk” page where you can peek into the arguments and negotiations connected to the particular set of facts represented there. You can see the sausage being made. You can also cause the sausage to be made, as we saw with Stephen Colbert’s parody of consensual reality he called “wikiality” and used to make occasional, abusive, hilarious forays into Wikipedia.

This is where we segue into geography.

Around 2004 or so, UK developer Steve Coast started a project called OpenStreetMap, the Wiki world map. Steve was connecting a few emerging threads: the falling cost of GPS hardware since it was made available for civilian use in 1996, the dismal copyright layer wrapped around Ordnance Survey maps, and the lack of a viable crappy-but-free alternative in the UK. It’s hard to overstate how crazy this idea was at the time; everyone knows that collecting worldwide geographic data at the street level is a massive undertaking, out of reach of an enthusiast community like the OSM of the time.

What was the state of online mapping at the time? Not terrible, but not great.

Continue reading at tecznotes  . . .

First Augmented Reality App Reaches App Store (MacNN)

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: The future is here. Not quite immersive, but at least augmented by overlaying points-of-interest icons over a live video feed from your iPhone's camera (YouTube video above). Makes use of iPhone 3.0 OS features to push route disruption notices and in-app purchases of bus routes and additional points of interest.]

Republished from MacNN.
Wednesday, August 26th

Beating out acrossair’s Nearest Tube, French company Presselite has released the first augmented reality app for the iPhone, Metro Paris Subway 3.0. Previous versions have relied on 2D maps as users navigate the Paris subway system, identifying routes and points of interest. Version 3.0 allows users to find POIs using a live video mode, on top of which the app overlays icons and distance markers.

As a user walks through Paris, icons shift relative to a phone’s position, judged according to compass and GPS data. Because of the function’s dependence on compass headings, augmented reality can only be used with an iPhone 3GS. The app costs $1; other changes in v3.0 include Google Maps integration, push notifications for route disruptions, and in-app purchase options for bus routes and different POI categories.

Check it out on iTunes . . .

iPhone 3.0′s Magnetometer and A-GPS

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

iphonetomtom

Looks like the iPhone 3.0 firmware plus the new 3Gs hardware will give the dedicated GPS market a run for it’s money. The new hardware includes a magnetometer, otherwise known as a digital compass. Combine that with the A-GPS, which supplements the slow satellite signal with fast WiFi and cell phone tower triangulation, and accurate and timely turn-by-turn navigation is possible. Both TomTomNavigon, , and TeleNav have jumped into the fray, joining X-Roads which was briefly available in a crippled form on the App store. Garmin might be shooting itself in the foot by staying out, but they have their own GPS + phone plans already. Besides the added precision of the new hardware, it’ll be easier for developers to incorporate maps directly into their apps. We should see a whole new class of apps available. Imagine walking along a street and pointing your phone at a building, statue, mountain, road, etc and have reams of helpful information come up about that particular feature. A great wayfinding device in the making!

NAVIGON exits N. America, may make iPhone app (MacNN)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

navigon7300t

[Editor's note: Looks like the iPhone and cell phones in general will continue to exert pressure on the low cost GPS market. Seperately, TomTom looks to be developing their own iPhone app.]

Republished from Mac News Network.

NAVIGON today said it would quit its GPS device business in North America but may offer its software on the iPhone and other platforms in return. The company doesn’t tell GPS Business News how quickly it expects to leave but says the decision stems from too-stiff competition at the low end of the GPS business. Where its business had been comfortable as long as large rivals like Garmin and TomTom kept their navigator prices higher, the push down to as low as $99 (for a TomTom ONE) has left NAVIGON with little way to differentiate itself.

In exchange, the company plans to expand by making its software available on other GPS-capable devices, particularly smartphones. Company chief Egon Minar specifically says an iPhone version through the App Store is a possibility courtesy of OS X iPhone 3.0′s support for turn-by-turn navigation but that it depends on price competitiveness, as other rivals are likely to introduce their own dedicated iPhone GPS apps.

Besides cost, NAVIGON has primarily sold its devices on offering features at a lower overall price, such as free lifetime traffic updates, lane assist and multi-route selection.

Magnetometer confirmed for iPhone 3.0? (MacNN)

Monday, May 18th, 2009

iphone_magnetometer_screenshot

[Editor's note: Including a compass in the new iPhone will make the assisted GPS unit more useful for turn-by-turn navigation.]

Republished from Mac News Network.

Rumors of a magnetometer in the next iPhone may have been confirmed, following leaked screenshots of the new iPhone debugging menus. Posted images show a new compass option, which can be turned on and off within General Location settings. Indications of a digital compass were first reported in April, when configuration files were observed to have references such as “auto-focus camera,” “Voice Control” and “magnetometer.”

Apple is expected to release the final version of the iPhone 3.0 firmware this summer, and one or more matching devices shortly after June’s WWDC event. An apparently accelerating schedule for beta firmware may indicate that Apple intends to release iPhone 3.0 on or around WWDC, possibly as a means of circumventing the problems experienced during the iPhone 3G launch last July. In attempting to release new hardware, firmware and the MobileMe online service simulataneously, Apple overburdened networks and left many code problems unresolved.

Cartographica 1.0 – “GIS” for the Mac

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

c11a-overview

[Editor's note: At $500 a seat ($395 limited time offer) this Macintosh-compatible GIS solution is cheaper than Avenza's MaPublisher but lacks some advanced features like customizable projections. Requires 10.5.3.  They have a survey asking which new features they should add. Thanks Tom!]

Republished from MacGIS.com (ClueTrust).

Flexible File Import

File Import

Cartographica has a wide range of data import capabilities, nearly assuring that you can turn your data into maps. Bring in your georeferenced raster data (like orthophotos and satellite imagery), your vector data from almost any source, or even CSV text files. A more complete list of imported and exported formats is available.

Rapid Filtering
Rapid Filtering

This is a Macintosh, and you’d expect fast filtering of data. With Cartographica, you get just what you’d expect. Using the search box, you can filter on any field. If you like, you can use expressions like > and < to filter numeric data arithmetically.

Sophisticated Layout
Sophisticated Layout
Cartographica now provides sophisticated print layouts, including the ability to put multiple maps on the same page, overlay scale and legends, or keep them aside, and add text notations. Even have multiple copies of the same map on a page with different zoom levels and extents.
Flexible Styles
Flexible Styles
Styles define what layers should look like in a map. Easily put together a simple style based on fill and stroke colors, or create a sophisticated style set for a layer allowing easy identification of features with different attributes.
Direct Editing
Direct Editing
Need to define geometry for your map without exact coordinates? Cartographica lets you create a new feature, or edit an existing one with ease. Just double-click and move the control points. Styles and related information follow right along.
Undo Support
Undo Support
We believe that exploring geospatial data should be risk-free. Why should you have to live with every change you make? Cartographica’s ubiquitous undo capabilities means whatever changes you’ve just made… you can undo them… and then put them back.
Layer Transparency
Layer Transparency
Take advantage of the sophisticated graphics you love on the Macintosh by using transparency to see through one level of data to the next. It is, of course, adjustable on a per-layer (or per-feature basis when you are using complex styles). You can even make a raster layer transparent (or any part of it), in order to enhance visibility of your crucial data.
Simultaneous Data/Map Browsing
Map And Data
Look at your data and map at the same time. Zoom in and filter the map and the data view follows. Scroll around and select features in the data set and they are hilighted on the map. Visualize your data your way. Don’t want to give up screen space for the data view? That’s fine, just drag it shut, and then open it when you need it again.
Geocoding
Geocoding

Got addresses? Load up a reference file (such as those available free in the US from the US Census Bureau) and you’ll be mapping the addresses of your data in minutes. Cartographica will take addresses from lists in text files, tables in databases, or even your Macintosh Address Book.

GPS Support
GPS Support
If you need to load up field data from a variety of GPS devices, go no further than the File menu. Using the GPS import modules tested over the last three years in our free LoadMyTracks software, we can import waypoints, routes, and tracks directly from hundreds of devices, including those from: Garmin®, Magellan®, Lowrance®, Sony®, and others. And, if your device isn’t directly supported, it can import the data using GPX files (the standard for GPS information).
Direct Database Access
Direct Database Access
Is your source data stored in a database? Cartographica can load data directly using ODBC (the standard for database exchange) and geocode it, join it to existing table data based on keys, or just import it as points with X and Y or latitude and longitude. No more multi-step processes and complex multi-program importing.
Web Map Server Support
Web Map Server
There’s lots of good data available on the Internet. Getting data from a Web Map Server into your map document is a snap. Just load up the area you’re looking to cover and select the Map Server. Cartographica will do the rest, from matching the coordinate system to testing the boundaries, to warping the graphics if necessary to meet your current CRS.
Intelligent Projection Management
Intelligent Projection Management
There’s a lot of data available out there, but often each layer is coded with a coordinate reference system that is specific to its producer’s own needs. Cartographica understands that, but doesn’t let that get in the way of making the data easy to use. Although you can change coordinate systems in existing layers, we’ll be just as happy to do the conversions behind the scenes (for raster as well as vector data) in order to make sure your layers match up.

 Read more at MacGIS.com . . .

iPhone SDK 3.0 – Playing with Map Kit (ObjectGraph)

Friday, May 8th, 2009

mapkit3_logo

[Editor's note: Three part series on the new iPhone 3.0 map APIs for aspiring map application developers from the ObjectGraph.blog.]

Republished from the ObjectGraph.blog.

I started looking at the Map Kit API for developing a quick and dirty – Find where you parked your car – application.

There is no programming guide for Map Kit yet on the developer pages for Apple, So I decided to share some some of it here.

UPDATE: Follow the second part here
http://blog.objectgraph.com/index.php/2009/04/03/iphone-sdk-30-playing-with-map-kit-part-2/

I started looking at the Map Kit API for developing a quick and dirty – Find where you parked your car – application.

There is no programming guide for Map Kit yet on the developer pages for Apple, So I decided to share some some of it here.

The main class that supports a Map is called

MKMapView

You need to include the header

MapKit/MapKit.h

Also dont forget to add a reference to the Framework MapKit.Framework

The code is relatively simple. Here are the steps

  • Create a simple project – I chose utility application – Name it whatever you want
  • Go to MainViewController.h
  • Include the header MapKit/MapKit.h

Continue reading at ObjectGraph.blog . . .