Spring is here, time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather! Pixeostar has released a new location based GPS mapping app, called Blipp, that is great for the outdoors! This free app allows you to mark your memorable moments on a map and share them with Facebook friends. Imagine you are hiking up a mountain and you get a notification that 3 years ago your best friend was engaged there – how cool! From big events like weddings to smaller ones like catching your first fish, if it’s important to you, you can share it with Blipp. Sharing life’s events with friends is important, and sharing them on an interactive map makes it even more special - it’s a great way to stay connected.
To help promote Blipp we decided to run a contest. Check out official rules here: http://www.blippapp.com/contest/
At the end of the contest (April 30th) we will randomly select 1 entry and that winner will receive a Garmin Handheld GPS .
Please download the app here:
Slashdot discusses a story named OpenWLANMap: Free WLAN-Based GPS Replacement. I don't think we mentioned OpenWLANMap.org before, but we did mention MAC address mapping. Here's the OpenWLANMap.org website.
The Slashdot summary: "There are a couple of commercial products which can tell you where you are by the MAC addresses of access points in your neighbourhood. E.g. the iphone uses a system like this. There's now an open offering for this: OpenWLANMap. With this website, you can enter your access point mac address with your GPS location and then others can use that to navigate. There is also an app for your mobile which automatically enters this data, and you can upload data from e.g. Airomap and other wardriving applications."
This is important if you consider the immense popularity of Wikipedia, its engine Mediawiki, and the related Wikimedia Foundation projects, including the new Wikidata and Wikivoyage. Here's the blog entry named GeoData: a new age of geotagging on Wikipedia.
From the entry: "Today, we present the GeoData extension for MediaWiki, which now provides a structured way to store geo-coordinates for articles, as well as an API to make queries around this information. [...] Coordinates added to articles are now stored separately in the database, as opposed to being stored arbitrarily in wiki markup. This makes it easy to query the coordinates of a particular page or a list of pages around a given set of coordinates. The Solr search engine is used for spatial queries, making the searches extremely fast. All the functionality is also available via the API, allowing developers to create tools that use this data."
Nothing we did not know or suspect, but a nice article named Websites Vary Prices, Deals Based on Users' Information (via OR).
From the article: "A Wall Street Journal investigation found that the Staples Inc. website displays different prices to people after estimating their locations. More than that, Staples appeared to consider the person's distance from a rival brick-and-mortar store, either OfficeMax Inc. or Office Depot Inc. If rival stores were within 20 miles or so, Staples.com usually showed a discounted price."
While this is nothing particularly surprising and local location solutions have been using RFID for years, I don't think we mentioned before such a simple solution using Bluetooth. In a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding launch, here's the StickNFind- Bluetooth Powered ultra small Location Stickers.
From CNET: "StickNFind stickers are equipped with Bluetooth low-energy technology. The stickers are about the size of a quarter and weigh well under an ounce. Slap a sticker on anything (or anyone) and then use the accompanying app to figure out where you put them last. Each little tag also has sound and light that can be triggered separately. The StickNFind app can be set to work kind of like a radar or it can send you an alert when an item comes into range. You can also get a warning when an item (like Sir Fluffypants) goes out of range."
Before you ask, from the officlal FAQ: "Range: Approximate 100 Feet with line of sight. Battery: Lasts up-to 1 year based on 30 minutes per day average use."
A story discussed recently over Slashdot is named NAVSOP Navigation System Rivals GPS.
Their summary: "BAE Systems has developed a positioning solution that it claims will work even when GPS is unavailable. Its strategy is to use the collection of radio frequency signals from TV, radio and cellphone masts, even WiFi routers, to deduce a position. BAE's answer is dubbed Navigation via Signals of Opportunity (NAVSOP). It interrogates the airwaves for the ID and signal strength of local digital TV and radio signals, plus air traffic control radars, with finer grained adjustments coming from cellphone masts and WiFi routers. In any given area, the TV, radio, cellphone and radar signals tend to be at constant frequencies and power levels as they are are heavily regulated — so positions could be calculated from them. "The real beauty of NAVSOP is that the infrastructure required to make it work is already in place," says a BAE spokesman — and "software defined radio" microchips that run NAVSOP routines can easily be integrated into existing satnavs. The firm believes the technology could also work in urban concrete canyons where GPS signals cannot currently reach."
I remembered 4 years ago we mentioned eLORAN as a possible backup system for the current satellite GNSS systems.
I was away last week, I have a lot of geonews to catch up... I'll try to share them in the coming days.
This story was discussed over Slashdot during the last weekend, Cops' Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Now Better Than GPS.
Their summary: "On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss a proposed bill to limit location tracking of electronic devices without a warrant — what it's calling the Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act, or the GPS Act. Ahead of that hearing, University of Pennsylvania computer science professor Matt Blaze submitted written testimony (PDF) telling Congress that phone carriers, as well as the law enforcement agencies with which they share data, can now use phones' proximity to cell towers and other sources of cellular data to track their location as precisely or even more precisely than they can with global positioning satellites. Thanks to the growing density of cell towers and the proliferation of devices like picocells and femtocells that transmit cell signals indoors, even GPS-less phones can be tracked with a high degree of precision and can offer data that GPS can't, like the location of someone inside a building or what floor they're on. With the GPS Act, Congress is considering expanding the ban on warrantless tracking of cars with GPS devices that the Supreme Court decided on in January. Blaze's testimony suggests they need to include non-GPS tracking of cell phones in that ban, a measure law enforcement agencies are strongly resisting."
Their summary: "A new patent for Amazon just put the company squarely in the location tracking controversy. It covers a system to not only track, through mobile devices, where individuals or aggregated users have been, but to determine where they're likely to go next to better target ads, coupons, or other messages that could appear on a mobile phone or on displays that individuals are likely to see in their travels. The system could also use someone's identity to further tailor the marketing according to demographic information."
Two days ago (yes, I was busy) Slashdot discussed a story named Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google Chase 'Got Milk?' Patents.
Their summary: "Among the new iOS 5 features is Reminders, which Apple explains this way: 'Say you need to remember to pick up milk during your next grocery trip. Since Reminders can be location based, you'll get an alert as soon as you pull into the supermarket parking lot.' But does Reminders infringe on a newly-granted patent to Amazon for Location Aware Reminders, which covers the use of location based reminders to remind a user 'to purchase certain items such as, for example, as milk, bread, and eggs'? Or could Reminders run afoul of Google's new patent for Geocoding Personal Information, which covers triggering a voice reminder or making a computing device vibrate when a user approaches a location if 'one of the user's events is a task to pick up milk and bread'? Not to be left out of the 'Got Milk?' patent race, Apple also has a patent pending for Computer Systems and Methods for Collecting, Associating, and/or Retrieving Data, which covers providing a reminder to a user whose 'to do' list includes 'get milk' when the user's location matches 'a store that sells the item "milk."'
That should not be confused with Microsoft's pending patent for Geographic Reminders, which allows users to specify reminders such as 'pick up milk if I am within a ten minutes drive of any grocery store.' That all four tech giants chose to pursue remember-the-milk patents — and the USPTO is considering and granting them — is all the more remarkable considering that Microsoft suggested location-based reminders were obvious in a 2005 patent filing, which informed the USPTO that 'a conventional reminder application may give the user relevant information at a given location, such as 'You're near a grocery store, and you need milk at home.' So much for that immediate patent quality improvement promised by the America Invents Act!"
You bet the patent system needs to be overhauled!
Here's the recent Google-related geonews.
From official sources:
From other sources: