Highlights from the Where 2.0 Conference and the New York Auto Show

Highlights from the Where 2.0 Conference and the New York Auto Show

The LBS and Web-2.0-mapping communities arrived en masse in Santa Clara, California, for the seventh annual Where 2.0 Conference. The conference highlighted leading-edge developers and location-aware technologies and focused on the emerging regulations that are defining the location ecosystem. Presenters in the exhibition hall included NAVTEQ, MapQuest, Google, Nokia, OpenStreetMap, and OnStar. Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development, delivered a keynote address in which he hinted that OnStar’s Mobile App will soon offer navigation services. He also looked forward to the not-so-distant future when social media, energy management, and destination management are neatly bound in the vehicle. “We’re clearly on the cusp of something big here,” Pudar said. “There are a lot of issues, such as balancing privacy concerns, driver distraction, and information overload, and we certainly don’t have all the answers, but I am convinced that we’re on the right path and there’s no doubt about the potential.”

At the conference, EveryScape debuted UScapeit, a free iOS mobile app that lets people capture 360-degree panorama 3D videos—or “scapes”—and share them via email or Facebook. Anyone viewing the scape can explore the 3D image as if they were there in person. UScapeit works with all video-enabled iOS devices including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, the new iPod Touch, and iPad 2. In related news, Microsoft unveiled Photosynth, which lets consumers stitch photos together into 3D panoramas on their smartphones.

Nokia, meanwhile, introduced photorealistic 3D models of metropolitan areas for the Web version of Ovi Maps. Starting with a bird’s-eye view, people can scale up and down and move around objects like buildings and trees from their desktop, experiencing a virtual but super-realistic perspective of new places. The beta service features 20 metropolitan areas, including Barcelona, London, Copenhagen, Florence, Helsinki, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Prague, San Francisco, Venice, and Vienna.

Also at the conference, TomTom announced a major expansion of its map database, MultiNet, to nearly 34 million kilometers across 103 countries, extending coverage to 3.3 billion people worldwide. The new release ramps up street maps in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, and expands coverage in other markets like India, Russia, Zambia, and French Guiana. TomTom also introduced new advanced features in its enhancement products, like speed profiles, 3D landmarks, and voice maps.

Across the continent, the New York Auto Show got under way in Manhattan. The show runs from April 22 to May 1 and will feature the latest vehicles and concept cars from all the top vehicle manufacturers. Nissan Leaf made an early and bold statement at the show by posting a massive billboard outside the conference hall that spews acrid smoke out of a giant exhaust pipe (the smoke is mist, not real pollution, of course). “The auto show has over 1,000 of these,” the sign reads, “But only one 100% electric, zero-tailpipe Nissan LEAF.”

Inside the hall, Nissan’s chairman of the Americas, Carlos Tavares, announced in a keynote address that Nissan will soon release a cold weather package for the LEAF. The package will include a temperature management system for the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack, thereby reducing the output of the power-robbing electric heater and increasing the car’s range in cold weather. Tavares did not announce when exactly the winter package would arrive but presumably before winter 2011 blows through.

While electric vehicles enjoy the spotlight, the number of electric motorcycles and electric scooters on the road will quietly increase from 17 million in 2011 to 138 million by 2017, according to a new report from Pike Research. Scooters will likely outsell bikes by around six to one worldwide, the report says, though in North America electric motorcycles may represent up to 60 percent of all electric two-wheel vehicle sales. The growth of the industry will increase demand for lithium ion and lead acid batteries, nourishing growth in both markets.

Building on its recent announcement with Volkswagen in the Asian market, Harman announced additional deals with Chinese carmakers at the Shanghai Auto Show. Harman will sell its premium branded audio solutions into 2012 and 2013 vehicles manufactured by Geely Motors, BYD Motors, and a joint venture electric car company formed by BYD and Daimler. Harman will provide premium audio for vehicles sold domestically in China, as well as for export to international markets including North America.

Telenor Connexion announced that Ericsson will acquire its advanced M2M platform. The move will allow for larger economies of scale and will help Telenor Connexion free up resources so the company can focus on fulfilling customers’ needs rather than concentrating on the day-to-day operations of an M2M platform. Telenor says that moving forward, less emphasis will be placed on the base systems and more resources will become engaged in developing new value-added services, improving and customizing products, and utilizing partnerships to complement the M2M development. “We believe that our increased focus on value-added services will address the multiple demands of our customers and allow us to retain our competitive edge,” says Per Simonsen, CEO of Telenor Connexion. “With this strategic development, we will further strengthen our position as the leading provider of premium M2M solutions. It is also a way to continue to differentiate ourselves in the market.”

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, join the sector’s thought leaders at Telematics Detroit 2011 in Novi, MI on June 8 and 9.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *