What geotagging means for telematics

What geotagging means for telematics

Five years ago, the Internet was nowhere—information and the users who accessed that information were not linked by location. No more. Current photo applications like Flickr and Picasa enable you to see where photographs were taken (down to the millimetre), while applications for iPhones and other mobile devices notify you of nearby restaurants and points of interest. Geotagging also has big implications for the telematics industry. The way we receive directions, access in-car infotainment, manage fleets, and track parcels all could—and almost certainly will—change as the Internet becomes ever more location-aware. “Every vehicle and mobile device will know its precise location within three years,” promises Ted Morgan, founder and CEO of Skyhook Wireless, which provides the global positioning data for the Apple iPhone. “There’s so much effort going into it, there’s no doubt that every Internet user will be geographically specified. Once you have that location, that’s when the fun stuff starts.

”For one thing, directions will be catered to your precise location. Traffic incidents will be geotagged on a map, as will police cars prowling in a speed trap (see the iPhone app Trapster) and attractions worth pulling off the road to see. Already with the new TomTom HD Traffic from TomTom, users can find the cheapest gas nearest their present location with one click; with another click, they can get directions to the gas station of their choice. Once there, they can receive nearby traffic and weather updates.

In the old days, GPS gadgets were outdated the moment they trundled off the factory line. Sure, they had information about restaurants, gas stations, and attractions loaded in, but it was impossible to keep that information current. With geotagging and a steady connection to the Internet, that’s no longer an issue. Dash Navigation in Sunnyvale, California, has introduced the Dash Express, which provides a similar spectrum of options to TomTom but does so with the help of Yahoo!'s new Fire Eagle service.

“As a platform, Fire Eagle lets developers easily create location-enhanced applications—maps, driving directions, local weather, traffic, nearby friends, exchange rates, time zones, local radio, public holidays—that consume the user’s location from a variety of sources,” Tyler Bell, leader of the Yahoo! Geo Technologies product team, told Telematics Update in March. “The benefit for users is that they can update their location just once—say, using a mobile device—and this single update perpetuates to other user-authorised applications.” Read the full interview with Tyler Bell here. [http://social.telematicsupdate.com/content/interview-dr-tyler-bell-yahoo-geo-technologies]

Regarding delivery companies, one such application would enable both controllers and drivers to see how individual trucks, packages, and mobile assets were moving in real time in relation to each other. Companies like Webtech Wireless and Qualcomm, which currently offer wireless fleet management solutions via GPS, bin sensors, and bar codes, could overhaul the way they operate, though neither company would divulge what products they have in the pipeline.

The Swiss Company u-blox, which is best known for a Capture & Process technology that enables instantaneous geotagging in cameras, already has developed a program called YUMA that allows parcel delivery companies to track devices with unparalleled specificity. The technology employs reverse geocoding to capture latitude and longitude, as well as street name, town, and country information that anyone can easily search.

But to date neither u-blox nor any other company in the telematics industry has created a geotagging technology that’s compatible with all GPS mapping applications. Once one company emerges, as Skyhook Wireless has for the iPhone, geotagging will be a regular part of everyone’s automotive experience.

Andrew Tolve is a writer for Telematics Update.Have a comment or a question? Email us at info@telematicsupdate.com to let us know what you think.

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