Thursday, January 11, 2007

CES 2007: Location Based Services
Every mobile carrier is looking to provide location based services. It seems that most phones have already been provisioned with GPS capability to fulfill the E911 (Enhanced 911) requirements. Carriers are now beginning to deliver services leveraging this capability: Sprint, Disney and Verizon are offering services to allow parents to locate their kids. MVNOs (Helio, Boost, Amp'd, Disney) are very focused on location based services.

A few interesting applications we saw at the show:

  • loopt (being first released on Boost Mobile) allows friends to locate each other via their mobile devices
  • Wireless Chaperone (from Protection One) is selling a device that parents can install in cars. The device transmits location and speed information to a central service for parents to see. The claim that speeding is significantly down when kids are in a car with the device. Another advantage is that stolen cars can be easily located.
  • from uLocate is offering partners to quickly launch location-based mobile services without needing to port the service on to multiple devices. They also eliminate the need for new service providers to establish relationship with the carriers.

A very large number of portable navigation devices were being demonstrated at the show. Additional services are being added at a furious pace in an effort to differentiate from the crowd:

  • Dash (I have covered this before)
  • Garmin Nuvi (traveler’s reference, and digital entertainment system)
  • HP iPAQ (MP3 Player, Photos, Games for windows)
  • TomTom One (camera alerts)

Unfortunately, the quality of maps were not always good. If you have been resisting (like me) getting a GPS navigation system, the vendors are hoping that one of these features will break your resolve (I am still waiting).

Mapping guts NAVTEQ and TeleAtlas were also there. It was interesting to see the TeleAtlas van that goes millions of miles taking street level photographs with several cameras on the roof. You will soon be able to see street views before you travel to a new town.

Microsoft launched software that allows you to drive a virtual street to familiarize yourself with landmarks and buildings before you make the actual trip. Satellite views are so 2006!

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