uLocate launches GPS widget platform with metroPCS

Ulocate communications today announced that its GPS widget platform “Where” is now available with the U.S. wireless operator metroPCS. Where costs $2.99 per month and is currently compatible with five metroPCS phones. MetroPCS has over 3.6 million subscribers in the United States.

This is the fourth U.S. wireless operator signed by Ulocate after Sprint, Alltel and Boost Mobile.

Buddy Beacon

In a separate news last week, uLocate announced their acquisition of the Buddy Beacon name from U.S wireless operator Helio. Introduced by Helio in partnership with uLocate in 2006, Buddy Beacon is a friend finder application. With this acquisition ulocate will be able to extend its Buddy Beacon service to other wireless operators. Buddy Beacon will be available on the Where platform and as BREW and Java applications.

Via Michelin to stop its PND business

According to news published earlier today in France, Viamichelin will stop to produce its own portable navigation systems.

In the inner circles of European PND manufacturers it was well known that the brand, subsidiary of the tire maker, was losing money due to the lack of real market share and high marketing spendings. In 2007 its European market share was below five percents everywhere except in France, its historical market, where the company had a market share of more than ten percents. Additionally Viamichelin started to sell its products in 2007 in the United States, but its distribution remained limited. The announcement made today is the logical conclusion of this situation.

According to our information, the company would refocus its activities on providing services (real time traffic data, points of interests from the digital edition of the famous Michelin guide, etc…) to other PND manufacturers. However, Viamichelin is today looking for a manufacturing partner to keep its brand alive on the market. Navigon could become this partner according to news from CNET France.

The consolidation is therefore moving forward on the PND market, following on the acquisition of Navman by Mitac (in March 2007) and its final merger with Mio announced this week.

GARMIN nominates Eric Bernard as General Manager Garmin France

Garmin has announced the appointment of Eric Bernard as General Manager for its French office. This nomination follows the purchase by Garmin,in January 2007, of its French distributor EME TecSat.

Prior to joining Garmin, Eric Bernard (43 years old) worked as Southern Europe sales Director for Handspring. He also managed European Sales Development for Navigon.

Dan Bartel, Garmin Vice President Global Sales, states: « Eric Bernard solid worldwide management experience coupled with his knowledge of the consumer GPS market will accelerate Garmin sales growth in the French market.”

Q&A; with Egil Juliussen Telematics Research Group

GPS Business News met with Egil Juliussen, Principal Analyst at Telematics Research Group at the Navigation and Location conference in San Jose early December. In this open discussion Mr. Juliussen gave us his thoughts about the GPS and location-based market, on topics such as real time traffic information, pedestrian navigation , two-ways connected PNDs and mobile LBS applications beyond navigation.

Dr. Egil Juliussen is the co-founder of TRG. He has more than 25 years experience in the computer, communications, and telematics industries and has published over 400 industry reports, conference papers, and publications.

Pioneer goes high-end with new AVIC-F500BT PND

Unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Pioneer AVIC-F500BT mixes navigation features and entertainment capabilities as well as offers consumer an “hybrid solution” to be used as a portable solution on a cradle or integrated into the dashboard.

“It aggregates compatible portable personal devices — whether it’s an iPod, an MP3 player or Bluetooth cell phone — and links them all together without having to completely change out the car’s entire factory audio system”, said Larry Rougas, vice president of marketing and product planning at Pioneer Electronics USA. “And with VoiceBox technology, which goes beyond fixed voice commands, the use of these devices in the car is more convenient,” he added.



Multimedia


The AVIC-F500BT can operate as both a navigation device and as a media center for entertainment. Through an auxiliary audio input in a factory audio system or using the available Pioneer installation module, the system becomes an aggregator and “gateway” for personal audio and communication devices. Built-in speakers and a rechargeable battery are also provided for use of the system while on the go.

It accepts portable devices with a USB connection and music-filled SD memory cards through two slots available in the body of the unit. When a device is plugged in, the AVIC-F500BT recognizes it as a source and controls it through its touch panel display and/or by voice control.

Voice recognition

The AVIC-F500BT includes the “Conversational Voice Search Platform” from voice recognition company VoiceBox. The conversational element is its ability to analyze normal and varying phrases such as “I want to hear the artist U2” or “play U2” and play back the songs accordingly. Another element of “conversational” is in situations where the user command is not crystal clear, such as, “Play, um, um let’s see the album Joshua Tree.” The unit has the capacity to recognize the command from the phrase, eliminating the extra words.

Additionally, with “intent recognition”, the user does not have to perform special commands for voice call. It can simply say, “Call John Doe” and the unit will prompt the user for additional information by responding, “I have two numbers for John Doe, Home and Mobile. Which would you like to call?”

Pure navigation functions are not left apart

But the AVIC-F500BT is also a powerful navigation device powered by Tele Atlas maps. Its 5.8 inches WVGA screen let ever the most short-sighted driver see the directions. The text to speech engine gives names of the streets. In addition, the AVIC-F500BT displays traffic information, weather forecasts, gas prices and movie times for up to 100 cities across the United States and Canada thanks to MSN Direct. The first three months of this service are offered for free, the cost of a further subscription has not been made public yet. The system also lets users update and add POI information via the SD card slot using a PC application provided by Pioneer.

Furthermore, for safety, the AVIC-F500BT is equipped with a camera input and back-up trigger. The system automatically displays images from an optional camera, when the vehicle is shifted into reverse.

One disappointment however comes to mind looking at the data sheet of this device: the voice recognition does not extend to the navigation. This is clearly a missing feature on such high end device that will compete with Magellan, Garmin, TomTom products that offer it. Next year at the CES?

Gizmondo, back from ashes?

In an interview with Swedish online newspaper Realtid.se, Carl Freer, former CEO of bankrupt mobile gaming company Gizmondo, said he will relaunch the portable gaming console in 2008.

The Gizmondo would be produced by a Chinese company in Shenzen that would get rights to sell the product in China. Carl Freer claims to have 35 games for the console including 6 new titles. The price of the gaming console could be US$99 and might be free with some wireless operators, he said.

Launched in 2005, the initial Gizmondo was the first portable gaming console to feature a GPRS connection, a GPS and a camera. Two versions of the device were distributed, one of them at a lower price thanks to an advertising-based business model.

But the device sold poorly while the company burned cash at a frenetic pace, and by February of 2006 the company discontinued the Gizmondo and was forced into bankruptcy.

Thanks to its GS and GPRS connection the Gizmondo was supposed to offer multiplayer location-based gaming. The game “Colorsâ€? was intended to be the first of this kind, but due to Gizmondo’s bankruptcy, it was never officially released.

The company made the headlines when it was revealed that executives were spending the money of the company in luxury cars and one of them, Stefan Eriksson, was a Swedish mobster. The video below highlights the whole story behind the bankruptcy of the company.



if the video does not start please click here

Jasper Wireless brings connectivity to Dash Express

Jasper Wireless, a licensed global machine-to-machine (M2M) mobile operator announced that Dash Navigation will rely on its service to provide the wireless connection to the Dash Express PND.

The automated provisioning process offered by Jasper Wireless enables Dash to cost-effectively support its retail business model and unparalleled end-user experience. Scott Barkley, vice president, products at Jasper Wireless said “what is unique with Jasper Wireless is the out of the box experience we can provide to Dash Navigation. Basically consumers will open the box and the SIM card we provide will be ready to turn on the connection without any need of a particular activation process”.

Dash has also fully integrated Jasper Wireless M2M Control Center capabilities, via its standards-based API, into its own supply chain management, order management, provisioning, and billing infrastructure. This deep integration simplifies operations and gives Dash one central location for all device and customer information, including communications.

Jasper Wireless offers local service in over 35 countries, and growing every month, giving Dash the option to seamlessly expand into new international markets.

When asked about the possible reluctance of the average consumer to pay a monthly bill for navigation, Barkley added: “My personal belief is Dash will make its subscription cheaper than what they have announced so far. Location-based advertising is a natural fit for their platform”.

TomTom emphasizes Map Share in new European Advertising Campaign

TomTom today announced the European launch of the new TomTom GO Advertising Campaign. The campaign will be multi-channel and launched in 16 countries throughout Europe via TV, radio, print, outdoor and online. The campaign will start in almost all countries as of today and will run until the end of the year.

The campaign communicates three messages about the TomTom GO range: best maps, safety and ease of use. The campaign especially highlights the Map Share technology that allows user to update maps and share among them the latest changes. Billboards and TV commercials outline this feature (watch the commercials below).

TomTom is using a new animation style in this advertising campaign. TomTom worked with the Dutch agency TBWA/Neboko on the project. TBWA/Neboko commissioned the Dutch company PostPanic to produce two new television commercials for TomTom. The main characters are rotoscoped and then illustrated with sketch style lines. “This resulted in a unique visual experience combining live action, rotoscoping, 3D animation and motion graphics” said TomTom. “The animation allows the users to dive into another world — a “TomTom world”. The fresh lime green background enhances the branding in a creative and effective way”.

Navteq signed with Teletrac: GPS probe data from over 65,000 US vehicles

NAVTEQ announced yesterday an agreement with Teletrac, Inc., a leading supplier of fleet management, navigation and vehicle diagnostic solutions. In addition to utilizing NAVTEQ map data in their navigation products, Teletrac will be a contributing supplier of GPS probe data for NAVTEQ’s exclusive use as a map data and traffic services supplier. The Teletrac real- time probe data feed extends NAVTEQ Traffic probe coverage in the United States. Navteq now claims “the highest frequency of updating in the industry today”.

According to the 2006 annual report of Trafficmaster, the parent company of Teletrac, Teletrac was monitoring 65,000 vehicles in the United States at the end of 2006. Therefore this agreement will offer Navteq’s subsidiary Traffic.com a robust set of additional floating data to further improve its real-time traffic information. Nevertheless, key competitor INRIX is already gathering “real time GPS probe data from more than 650,000 commercial vehicles across the U.S” said the company early September.

GPS probe data, a must have for real-time traffic information

The “Real-Time Traffic Flow Ground Truth Testing Methodology Validation and Accuracy Measurement” study, published one year ago by Frost & Sullivan, was positioning INRIX as a leader in this field thanks to its GPS probe data. “Inrix’s Smart Dust Network provides a major advantage,” said Veerender Kaul, Program Manager at Frost & Sullivan. “Instead of primarily relying on static DOT and radar sensor networks, Inrix is uniquely aggregating real-time data from over 625,000 GPS-enabled commercial vehicles and combining it with data from multiple private and public sources. Inrix’s approach provides a scalable model enabling wide-spread road segment coverage of real-time speeds across the U.S.”.

WaveMarket Launches Location Based Services With Aliant

WaveMarket, a leader in mobile location-based search and services, announced that the company’s Family Finder and Asset Tracker has officially launched with Aliant, Atlantic Canada’s leading information and communications technology provider.

WaveMarket’s Family Finder technology, branded Seek & Find, offers parents the peace of mind to locate their children from any Internet connection. The WaveMarket Asset Tracker, branded GoTrax(tm) on the Aliant network, enables employers to manage their fleet more efficiently and identify the location of employees.

"WaveMarket is pleased to partner with Aliant to offer its customers our Family Finder and Asset Tracker services," said Tasso Roumeliotis, CEO of WaveMarket. "Aliant is a leader in wireless and Internet technologies. WaveMarket is excited to partner with them in providing innovative family location and asset tracking technologies for the first time in Atlantic Canada."

The Seek & Find service marks WaveMarket’s fourth commercial deployment of its industry-leading family location solution, having previously launched with Bell Mobility, Sprint Nextel, and Vivo, Latin America’s largest mobile carrier. Using the WaveMarket service, Aliant customers are able to locate their children on-demand and set up regular location checks, so parents may be notified that a child has arrived to school safely or is home by curfew.

WaveMarket’s Asset Tracker, which powers GoTrax(tm), gives employers the ability to locate their employees. The tool makes dispatching employees to appropriate customer locations more efficient, saving both time and money. Additionally, employers can set up ‘zones’ on a map so that they will receive notifications whenever an asset enters or leaves the zone.

"Demand for our Family Location service continues to grow globally at a rapid pace. Parents are becoming more aware and excited about the value of GPS technology which is already integrated into a huge number of mobile handsets," said Roumeliotis. "We believe that this market has enormous potential and are thrilled to continue to work with carrier partners, like Aliant, to deliver this valuable service to their customers."