Telematics comes to the Tour de France, while skobbler’s new iPhone navigation app gobbles up the UK market

Telematics comes to the Tour de France, while skobbler’s new iPhone navigation app gobbles up the UK market

The world’s premier cycling race, the Tour de France, got under way for the 97th time. This year’s race marks a first, as fans can follow riders’s progress online with near real-time tracking updates and animated replay videos.

EMS Global Tracking partnered with Participant Sports to offer the service. EMS Global Tracking’s SAT-202 terminals allow fans to follow the race using real-time map rendering, which graphically depicts the course and tracks the riders’ movements on it. Participant Sports has released an official Tour de France iPhone app to complement the service.

“Cycling fans around the world [can] enjoy continuous updates on the race using our tracking technology,” says John McQueen, senior director, global sales, EMS Global Tracking. “Not only do fans have the ability to track current progress of the race at any time, but with this new iPhone app, they’re able to have access to this data regardless of where they are.”

General Electric ramps up clean tech investments

General Electric announced plans to invest $10 billion in its Ecomagination brand over the next five years. Ecomagination represents energy efficient products—like wind turbines and solar modules—that curb emissions and reduce spending. Such products have generated $70 billion in revenue for GE in the past five years, $18 billion last year alone. The $10 billion in investment is twice GE’s current R&D budget.

Teletrac 20/20 partners with dealers

Teletrac Inc. unveiled a Dealer Partnership Program for one of its flagship products, Teletrac 20/20, a vehicle location and tracking solution for small- to mid-sized fleets. Participating dealers will benefit from minimal investment requirements, heightened revenue incentives, access to a dealer portal, and around-the-clock telephone support. The Dealer Partnership Program comes on the heels of Fleet Director 8, Teletrac’s newest integrated telematics solution, which uses Microsoft Silverlight and Bing mapping technologies to deliver advanced satellite maps and live traffic information in real time.

Zonar Systems takes gold

Zonar Systems won Connected World Magazine’s Gold M2M Value Chain Award for its fleet management solutions, as implemented by civil construction company Goodfellow Bros. Zonar Systems provided Goodfellow Bros. with next generation GPS capabilities in conjunction with Web-based data management applications and pre- and post-trip inspection compliance. Maintenance and repairs were automatically scheduled by the system when predefined limits were reached. By reducing idle time alone, the system saved Goodfellow Bros. $56,000 in its first year of service.

Traffic information use to surge

Traffic information will continue to be the most important element of navigation services for the next five years, according to the latest market data from ABI Research. The firm estimates that the global number of traffic information users will surge from 57 million in 2010 to more than 370 million in 2015. Being able to calculate fastest routes and accurate times of arrival are extremely valuable, and the emergence of historic speed profiles and predictive traffic information will only extend this value in the years to come, the firm said.

iPhone ushers in new era of LBS

Apple launched the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS4, which, among other new functionalities, supports background processes for third-party applications. Previous versions of iPhone operating systems used cell and WiFi data and assisted GPS to provide location capabilities. With the new platform, these capabilities have been extended to the background, which allows developers to create a new breed of apps, like location-based couponing and automated status updates for social networks.

Fleet Services enhances Online Vehicle Ordering

GE Capital, Fleet Services announced a new set of features for its Online Vehicle Ordering product designed to further automate and streamline the ordering process and enable fleet managers and drivers to work more efficiently. The new version of Online Vehicle Ordering offers automated notification of manufacturer data changes, as well as on-screen imaging enhancements. The new layout and expanded data will itemize changes in price and vehicle options and packages.

Skobbler iPhone navigation app takes off in the UK

Skobbler, the firm behind the free sat nav app for the iPhone, announced that its navigation app has been downloaded more than 72,000 times since its launch in the UK less than a month ago. The app is based on the community-driven collaborative OpenStreetMap project, which means users don’t need GPS hardware, map updates are more frequent and free for life, and there's no need to carry around additional devices. Major updates are already on the way; the app will soon offer full compatibility with Apple's new iOS4 firmware and a new user interface will be part of a new Google Android version of skobbler for the UK. “We are only just getting started in the UK,” says Marcus Thielking, co-founder of skobbler. The popularity of the skobbler app “demonstrates again just how popular mobile phone navigation is becoming.”

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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