GeoCarta Has Moved

Oct 27, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: Satski

Wondering how your handheld GPS navigation device is going to hold up on the ski slopes this winter? Never fear. A company called Satski has developed a GPS navigation system specifically for skiers.

The Satski gives you an interactive map of the mountain that will guide, assist and record your movements throughout the day while you are on the slopes. The Satski constantly updates your current position on the map, gives you some statistics, and record your coordinates, altitude, speed, and distance to be analyzed later on.

The device also comes with an MP3 Player, a few games, a list of emergency contacts for your area such as mountain rescue, and some photos and information on restaurants in the vicinity, if you happen to be skiing in the Alps. While the company's web site only displays European ski resorts, it says the device will work in North America as well, though maybe you'll have to find good place to eat on your own.

Via NaviGadget.


Oct 20, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: Pyxis GPS Watch

The latest entry in the, "this really cool GPS device does everything you can imagine and five things you haven't thought of yet" market is the Pyxis GPS Watch from Westech Korea.

The device comes with databases of various exercise courses for running a marathon, hiking and walking. Not just for keeping time, you can also set an exercise schedule in advance. While you are working out, this GPS watch displays information like elapsed time, speed, distance and consumed calories. You can save details of up to 2,000 workout sessions.

For less energetic activities, the Pyxis also serves as your golf guide, displaying the distance to the green as well as your driving distance with information in the holes including hazards details like bunkers and waters.

Via Aving USA

Last week's GPS Gadget of the Week here.


Oct 18, 2007

Hitler's Globe to be Auctioned

A globe that belonged to Adolf Hitler could bring as much as $22,000 at auction the Daily Telegraph reported today. The globe was found by American soldier John Barsamian in the remains of the "Eagle's Nest" Hitler's mountain stronghold in the Bavarian Alps.

On entering the bunker, Mr. Barsamian, who is now 91, found the place devastated by Allied bombing and looting. However, he found the globe still in intact. He boxed it up with other keepsakes, and shipped them home.

One thing that should increase the value of this globe is the meticulous records Mr. Barsamian kept that authenticate his find. Not only does he still have the military paperwork that allowed him to bring it back to the U.S., but he also has a picture of himself in front of the bunker, holding the globe.


Oct 17, 2007

Germany Says No to Galileo Funding

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would continue to oppose the way the European Union is managing proposals for the Galileo satellite navigation system Digital Journal reported today:

Speaking at a Berlin conference on transport, the chancellor said Berlin would "cheerfully" stand up for German national interests on the issue.

Berlin has criticized EU proposals to finance an investment budget shortfall of 2.4 billion euros (3.4 billion dollars) for the global-positioning system mainly from its own budget.

The German Chancellor reportedly said that since her country was "a major financial contributor" to the planned navigation system that it had to have preference in the awarding of contracts for the project. The EU plan calls for open tendering for the contracts.

See also: Galileo's Future Uncertain
Galileo to be Grounded?

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Do Microsoft and Google Have Their Sights on TomTom?

Since the NAVTEQ purchase by Nokia was announced, speculation has been rampant that Microsoft would seek to acquire GPS Personal Navigation Device (PND) maker Garmin. However, iSuppli, a market intelligence firm, says the combined TomTom/Tele Atlas group is a more attractive target for Microsoft, and for Google as well.

Speaking of a suggested Microsoft buyout of Garmin, Richard Robinson, principal analyst, for iSuppli said, “iSuppli considers this to be less likely than Microsoft buying TomTom/Tele Atlas. This is because the key item in the supply chain is the map IP [intellectual property], rather than the navigation devices themselves.” The firm says the combined TomTom/Tele Atlas group is even more attractive to Google, citing the search engine company's strong desire to offer mobile location-based services.

With prices of GPS equipped PNDs falling, it seems that many people have realized that the true value is the map itself. "Holders of map Intellectual Property (IP) now occupy the most important position in the global GPS navigation supply chain." the report said, citing the $8 billion purchase of Navteq Corp. by Nokia as evidence. Tele Atlas, the other world-wide mapping firm agreed to be acquired by GPS maker TomTom earlier this year.

The entrance of these huge companies into the mapping field illustrates that the competitive structure of the navigation market has changed dramatically. The stakes are huge, iSuppli estimates that global shipments of GPS-enabled mobile handsets will reach 250 million units by 2010.

Currently, there are about 40 companies offering GPS navigation capabilities in various products. However, consider how many companies made PCs at one time. If past experience is a guide, and I believe it is, this number will likely be reduced to 3 or 4 major players over the next few years.

See also: Nokia to Purchase NAVTEQ
Nokia + NAVTEQ = Trouble for Garmin?
Lower Cost to Drive Demand for Auto Navigation Systems

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Oct 15, 2007

Modernized GPS Satellite Ready for Launch

The newest Block IIR GPS satellite is ready for launch October 17th, Lockheed Martin announced today. The satellite will be launched on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems, is the prime contractor for the United States' GPS Block IIR program.

This satellite is the fourth in a series of eight satellites designated Block IIR-M, that were modernized to enhance operations. They feature the L2C signal, the second civilian signal on the L2 carrier. While GPS receivers have been manufactured to receive the L2C signal, with only three satellites in orbit, this feature has been limited. Improvements for the military reportedly include a more jam-resistant signal and features that enable better targeting of GPS-guided weapons in hostile environments.

The firm is locked in multi-billion dollar competition with Boeing to develop and build the next generation GPS satellites for the U.S. military.

See also: GPS III Decision Delayed Until December
Lockheed Martin Delivers Last GPS Satellite


Oct 14, 2007

Map Exhibition Asks Viewers to Question Everthing

Artists' use of maps to make a political or social statement have been highlighted here before. An exhibit at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts takes a comprehensive look at art work which incorporates cartography.

"Lines in the Earth: Maps, Power and the Imagination" explores the way mapping is used to explore social, cultural and political geographies. Some of the featured artists use maps to rearrange the world; others use them to explore the way that maps reinforce political power; while others use maps to create their own imaginary worlds.

The exhibit runs through December 7th at the center in Ketchum, Idaho.


Oct 13, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: GPS Mouse

If you're like me, you prefer to use a real mouse rather than the touchpad on your laptop. So perhaps you've been on the road with your computer and asked yourself, "Why can't this mouse double as a GPS receiver?" Now it can.

The Deluo GPSMouse works just like a regular USB-powered optical mouse, with one difference. By flipping a switch on the bottom, it transforms into a GPS receiver connected to your computer through the same USB cable. This provides you with GPS positions without carrying around a separate portable navigation device.

The GPSMouse sells for about $70 on Amazon. For about $130, you can get it along with Microsoft Streets & Trips.

Via SlipperyBrick

Last weeks GPS Gadget of the Week Here.


Oct 12, 2007

Three GLONASS Satellites to Launch October 25th

Three GLONASS satellites are scheduled for launch October 25, from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Russian News and Information Agency reported today. The news service said the information came from the system's manufacturer.

The Russian navigation satellites are to be launched on a Proton-M rocket. This is the same type of rocket that crashed on September 6th, with a Japanese satellite onboard. In the last launch, the rocket's engine malfunctioned about two minutes into flight and crashed near the town of Zhezkazgan.

GLONASS is intended as an alternative to the U.S.-operated Global Positioning System (GPS). The program was originally begun by the Soviet Union. With the breakup of the U.S.S.R., the project floundered, but was restarted when Russian President Putin took an interest. Russia has budgeted 9.88 billion rubles ($380 million) for the program this year.

See also: GLONASS to Top U.S.'s GPS, Putin Says
Report: GLONASS Could Be Operating By 2009


Geocachers Invited to Celebrate Earth Science This Sunday

Earth Science Week begins this Sunday and to observe the occasion geocachers around the world are invited to participate in International EarthCache Day. EarthCache is a twist on the regular GPS game of Geocaching. Instead of searching for buried trinkets, GPS enthusiasts are encouraged to set their coordinates for EarthCaches and discover Earth's natural treasures.

In EarthCaching, participants register and select a site to visit from those listed at Players then make their way to the site using their GPS navigation device. Once there the EarthCachers are asked to perform a specific task listed on the website such such as measuring the size of fossils, or height of a waterfall. Many players like to take photos at the site and log their experience and photos on the geocaching web site.

Gary Lewis, Director of Education and Outreach for the Geological Society of America explains, "With EarthCaching, they're field geologists for a day. They have a great time exploring some of Earth's most beautiful features without disturbing the land."

The EarthCache program was begun by the Geological Society of America in 2004 with four EarthCaches in Colorado and Australia. Since then, participants have developed an additional 1,600 sites in 47 countries. More than 97,000 people have participated.

Pictured: Great Lakes-Lake Iroquois EarthCache Canada. Courtesy the Geological Society of America.

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Oct 10, 2007

High School Students Learn to see Things Differently in GIS Course

Two California high schools are using GIS to educate students about their community as well as the technology systems used by decision-makers in a new program.

The North County Times has more:

After spending two months analyzing maps, studying topography and cataloging information by locations, Valley Center High School sophomore Abraham Chambers said he sees his city in a whole new light -- from above.

Abraham, 16, is one of 60 students enrolled in a new Geographic Information Systems course at Valley Center and Fallbrook high schools that brings high-tech computer hardware and software used for environmental research and urban planning into the classroom. The class aims to educate students about the community and the technology systems used by decision-makers. It was introduced to the campuses this year after the districts secured a two-year, $450,000 career-technical education grant from the state in 2005.

"This has opened my eyes to a whole different realm of what (computerized maps) can be used for," Abraham said Monday, as he built a map of Valley Center with recently released San Diego Land Use and Management Data.

With the help of Global Positioning System software and the computerized mapping database, provided by a Redlands-based Geographic Information Systems software company -- Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. -- students learn how to take satellite images of an area and turn them into their own maps that chart trends and store information on everything from crime data to water sources.

Some of the projects the students have worked on include locating all the possible helicopter pads for pilots making emergency landings, mapping popular surfing beaches against known shark attacks and identifying all area water sources. Students who pass the course with an A or B earn course credits for the introductory Geographic Information Systems course at Palomar Community College.

See also: Using GPS to Turn Kids on to Geography

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Oct 7, 2007

Pioneer Looking Past GPS Navigation to the Future

Japanese electronics maker Pioneer is working on a new navigation system that combines a GPS system with a video camera and software that analyzes the scene ahead. Not only does the system provide better directions, it even warns the driver about potential hazards.

Called the Image Recognition Car Navigation System, the system was shown at the recently completed CEATEC Japan 2007 electronics show where it was named one of the 12 most innovative products at the show.

Instead of displaying a digital map, Pioneer’s prototype provides the driver live video of the road ahead with information superimposed. For example an arrow will appear to show the location of an upcoming turn is. It also warns the driver if he gets too close to the car ahead and even monitors the road lines to make sure the driver doesn't drift out of his lane.

Pioneer has not announced a release date for the system.

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Oct 6, 2007

GIS Big in World's Largest Country

China's self-developed Geographic Information System (GIS) industry hired more than 300,000 people and produced 400 billion yuan (about $53 billion U.S.) in aggregate output last year, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The news service attributed the numbers to Zhong Ershun, deputy president of the China Association for Geographic Information System, which also stated that there 20,000 Chinese enterprises engaged in GIS.

The country's growing economy, and government spending, were cited as the main factors driving growth in China's GIS industry. Between 2001 and 2005, more than 20 million yuan has been earmarked by the Ministry of Information Industry as a special fund to fund the development and application of domestic software for GIS.

See also: China to Crack Down on Foreign Surveyors & Mappers


GPS Gadget of the Week: GPS Counter Track

We've all had that nagging feeling that someone is watching us, following our every move. These days, with the proliferation of GPS tracking devices, that feeling is closer to reality than ever. If you're bothered by the thought that someone may be secretly tracking you with a stealth GPS device, the GPS Counter Track by MicroVideoX may be for you.

The company says that the device, which plugs in a cigarette lighter, will render any GPS tracking device useless within minutes. Though the firm's website is short on specifics, the device appears to work by interfering with the L1/L2 signal broadcast by GPS satellites. Of course peace of mind doesn't come for free. In this case, the cost is $219.00 plus shipping.

Last week's GPS Gadget of the Week here.



Oct 5, 2007

Galileo's Future Uncertain

The European Union is divided on how to pay for Galileo, Europe's global navigation satellite system the BBC reported:

At a meeting in Luxembourg, ministers from Britain, the Netherlands and Germany led opposition to a proposed rescue bid for the Galileo project.

They opposed a European Commission (EC) proposal to use 2.4bn euros from EU funds to get the system back on track.

Original plans called for Galileo to be operational by 2013. Thus far, orders for only four of the planned 30-satellites have placed with only one test satellite in orbit.

The program had counted on financial support from private industry. However, the consortium of aerospace and telecom companies that is to build much of Galileo's infrastructure is doubtful about how much revenue can actually be generated from the service, since the Global Positioning System already in place by the United States is available world-wide, for free. To fill the funding gap, the EC recommended using the 2.4bn euros in unused agricultural and administrative funds.

That proposal is opposed by several members including Germany which has suggested that the funding shortfall be made up by European Space Agency members.

See also: Galileo to be Grounded?
Europe's First GPS Satellite Launch A Success
World Prepares To Challenge U.S. Dominance In GPS


Oct 3, 2007

Researchers "Rebirth" Rome Using Virtual Map

A three-dimensional, virtual map, called Rome Reborn, is the result of a ten-year effort to better understand the Eternal City. The effort is led by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, and has brought together a team of international researchers hope to create a three-dimensional map of Rome as it is believed to have appeared in about 320 AD. The map contains details of 7,000 buildings and allows users to "fly" over much of the ancient city.

Researchers have been studying Rome for centuries, and have discovered quite a bit about life in ancient times. The researchers hope the digital map will help fill in the gaps of knowledge that remain. Fourth century Rome covered 35 square kilometers and is believed to have had a population of about a million people.

At the present, the virtual map is too big (800 megabytes) for people to truly "stroll" through the city. But The Times reports that the creators are in discussions with Linden Labs and other online “multiverse” pioneers to bring Rome Reborn to the masses.

See also: Old & New Combine To Map "Eternal City"

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Nokia + NAVTEQ = Trouble for Garmin?

Analysts digesting the recently announced purchase of mapmaker NAVTEQ by Nokia see trouble ahead for Garmin. Forbes argues that as the world's largest maker of navigation devices, Garmin enjoys quite a bit of influence over Navteq’s product development; influence it is not likely to enjoy over a behemoth like Nokia. Forbes also wonders if a rise in map prices is in the future.

Analyst Richard Valera says Garmin's influence over NAVTEQ is overratted. However he suggests says of the combined Nokia-NAVTEQ operation, “They could be formidable competitor with Garmin in a space that is clearly Garmin’s main growth area.”

Garmin's stock price fell more than 10% on the announcement of the deal. There was wide speculation that Garmin would buy NAVTEQ itself, since the firm is its main map supplier. That speculation has not totally gone away. Reuters reports that NAVTEQ's call options, allowing investors to buy its shares at $80 by mid-January, were active on Monday. One analyst told Reuters that investors were not ruling out a rival offer by Garmin.


Oct 1, 2007

Charting the Unknown: Mapping Bangladesh's Capital

In an age where digital maps are available on your cellphone, it's hard to imagine a place where digital maps simply don't exist. Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, is such a place. However, University of Alabama at Birmingham Associate Professor Akhlaque Haque, has set out to change that.

Dr. Haque has begun a four-month project to create the first comprehensive digital maps of Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka. A native of Bangladesh, Dr. Haque is teaching graduate students at BRAC University in Dhaka to map the capital city. He and the students will travel around the city by car and rickshaw collecting location-specific data on major roadways, railway stations, hospitals and other public service facilities using GPS units.

The team will then import the data into GIS software to create the digital map of the city. The maps will be made available online and presented to local government officials. The team intends to map alternative routes for entering and exiting the city during times of crises, including natural disasters such as the recent floods.

See also: GIS for the Third World

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Nokia to Purchase NAVTEQ

Cellphone maker Nokia will purchase digital mapmaker NAVTEQ for $78 per share in cash, the firms announced today. The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008 and is valued at approximately $7.7 billion, and has already been approved by the board of directors of each company. The deal values NAVTEQ shares at a 34% premium compared to one month ago.

Nokia is seeking to capitalize on the fast growing location-based services (LBS) market. With cell phone ownership reaching the saturation point in the U.S. and many industrialized countries, cell phone makers and service providers see LBS as a key way to continue growth and add additional income-producing services. “Location based services are one of the cornerstones of Nokia’s Internet services strategy. The acquisition of NAVTEQ is another step toward Nokia becoming a leading player in this space,” said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia's President and CEO.

Nokia is the world’s largest mobile device manufacturer with more than 900 million people using a Nokia mobile device around the world. NAVTEQ is a provider of digital map information for automotive navigation systems, mobile navigation devices, and other uses. NAVTEQ’s current map data business will continue operationally independent, but organizationally a Nokia Group company.

See also: Free Maps for Your Cellphone
Author Touts Navteq Stock

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