I remember the first time I used Satellite Navigation (Satnav), it involved a copy of Auto-route on a pentium powered laptop, a serial cable, a Garmin GPS45 receiver and a lot gaffer (duct) tape – but it worked !!
In many ways today’s portable satnavs have not really changed the way they work much beyond what was available nearly ten years ago.. you enter a destination, the system uses a stored roads database to calculate the route to the destination and this is then iterated as you travel along the route. OK so today’s system may also use a online service or TMC receiver to update traffic data but in terms of the basic operation not a great deal has changed.
In the past I have often noted that in terms of LBS, the industry has ignored the point, that the most important part of “where” is not the absolute location in terms of a lat/long co-ordinate, but the fact that it provides context to other information. In terms of Satnav the same is also true.. are the designers of satnavs really making the most of the fact that they have locational context information always available ?
Garmin UK have been kind enough over the past couple of months to let me try out one of their Nuvi 360 satnav systems (thanks Claire) and I have been very impressed, that in a number of ways, Garmin is making use of locational context in the overall way the system works.
Firstly the Nuvi has a very neat security device, in addition to a 4-digit PIN code, the “security location” is a specific location that you must take you device to unlock it, if you forget the PIN code. e.g. you can only reset the PIN code if you take your device to this location – very smart.
The second use of locational context, is a safety feature which prevents the user from making system changes while the nuvi and the vehicle it is in – is moving!
There is still some way to go to increase the possible integration however, why not automatically change the zoom level with speed, decreasing scale as speed increases – if you are travelling on a motorway you don’t need to see all streets, likewise when travelling at less than 30mph, you are likely to be in a residential area and will need more detail.
There are other simple ways of making the system appear more intelligent to its user – list potential destinations ordered based on distance from the current location, default to home as the default destination if you are not at your home location, during the morning rush hour make “work” your default destination etc..
In terms of Satnav we are I would suggest just entering the mainstream market … there will be a whole bunch of potential customers out there for whom the current generation of systems is still to complex, even without the gaffer tape!
Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.