GPS Thoughts

Nuvi integrates ‘where’

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.

4 replies on “Nuvi integrates ‘where’”

How accurate is the security location? Will I have to create a treasure map of my back garden in order to work out where I can reset the PIN on my Nuvi? Or maybe use a second GPS? 😉

Sounds like a very neat idea though. =)

Even that most basic of Sat Navs, the TomTom One has an auto zoom capability based on speed & proximity to a junction, as well as filtering what network is shown depending on the route chosen and the surrounding detail’s relevance. e.g. Motorway service station networks only display when you get into the station. The ‘Navigate to POI’ function is effectively a ‘find nearest’ service, as is a well populated set of favorites. Most of it’s already there. The interesting stuff is the temporal/contextural info. Routing that takes into concideration expected road conditions (you don’t need a real-time link to know the M4 is busy at 5:30 on a Friday!)would be good. Improved ‘avoidance’ facilities, so I can re-plan my route avoiding a section of motorway, not the whole thing, and the ability to drag the map image to take in context, whilst viewing the route would be helpful.

To quote the Spice Girls, What I really really want is a Route finder capability. I want to dump a load of way points into the machine, and have it come up with the optimum route – and I want to dump that list from my mobile/lap-top/pda, so connectivity and file standrads need sorting.

Sat Nav is starting to progress beyond being a toy, although that is where most of the market will remain. As a result, affordable options will never quite deliver everything.

As someone who set up his TomTom in a traffic jam on the M25, getting back to the same spot to re-initiate could be interesting.

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