Navizon on Blackberry: GPS Not Required

Thanks to Navizon software, owners of Blackberries can now:

  • See where they are on a map and find their next
  • See the whereabouts of their friends or coworkers.
  • Search for businesses such as bars or restaurants near where they are.

A GPS device is not required. Navizon’s Virtual-GPS is able to triangulate your location on a map using WiFi and cell towers. It enables a myriad of Location Based services.

The new version of Navizon is also bundled with MGMaps, a powerful mobile mapping system working on any Java enabled phones. In addition to Blackberry, Navizon is also compatible with Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.

“The release of Navizon for Blackberry devices is a very important development for our community of users,” said Cyril Houri, Founder and CEO of Mexens Technology. “By supporting this new platform, Navizon is now accessible to a vast majority of smartphone and PDA owners, making Location-Based services on wireless handhelds a reality even for users who don’t have a GPS- enabled phone.”

Navizon is freely available for download from your wireless device. Navizon’s Virtual GPS is available for a free 15 day evaluation period and can be licensed for $24.99 after the trial’s expiration.

RFID Live 2007

RFID Journal LIVE! 2007, produced by RFID Journal, runs April 30 to May 2, 2007 in Orlando.

You can hear from the top industry leaders in a comprehensive RFID agenda.

Learn the benefits of RFID in Retail/CPG, Health Care/Pharma, Aerospace/Defense, Manufacturing and Transportation/ Logistics.

Industry solutions and demos will be featured from RFID vendors along with the latest news about applications, track and trace, asset tracking, anticounterfeiting and more.

Here’s the latest RFID news from Google.

Statewide/Nationwide Wireless Broadband

A statewide wireless broadband network is planned for South Carolina. The goal is for schools, homes, public safety workers, municipalities, hospitals and health care workers, businesses and visitors to have Internet access anytime and anywhere, in rural or urban areas, says Rep. Dwight Loftis, a Greenville Republican who co-authored the bill to fund the project.

Loftis has told The Greenville News that he hopes South Carolina can provide free basic wireless broadband service in exchange for letting providers use the towers, some excess state licensed frequencies, and charge for faster services. The state’s network of educational television towers provides an initial infrastructure to make this futuristic sounding venture a reality, said state

But Rep. Greg Delleney, opposes the bill because he said the network would compete with private businesses already offering Internet access.

Meanwhile, Vermont’s e-state initiative is gathering bi-partisan support. Passage of Vermont’s broadband and telecommunications bill, which calls for border-to-border broadband and cellular coverage, is expected soon.

The $20 million wireless network would allow collaboration between industry, and the public and private sectors. Users would include government agencies, businesses, and education institutions. It is not planned to provide network access for individual consumer usage.

The Bill is now before the state Senate. It is the centerpiece of Gov. Jim Douglas’s e-state initiative to provide ubiquitous broadband coverage across his state by 2010.

Vermont is proposing a state-wide network. Governor Jim Douglas proposes a Vermont Telecommunications Authority that will partner with private enterprise to build the infrastructure to support universal broadband and cellular coverage.

By 2010, the Governor wants Vermont be the nation’s first true “e-state” – the first state to provide universal cellular and broadband coverage everywhere and anywhere within its borders. The state will back $40 million of bonding by the Authority, which will leverage more than $200 million in private investment.

Big phone and cable companies are reluctant to upgrade and expand their networks in sparsely populated places where there are not enough customers to justify the investment, explains the NY Times. Instead, they are funneling billions of dollars into projects in cities and suburbs where the prospects for a decent return are higher.

AREA: 9,249 square miles

POPULATION: 1,076,189
AREA: 1,044 square miles

POPULATION: 4,321,249
AREA: 30,109 square miles

POPULATION: 3,641,056
AREA: 97,073 square miles

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005

Unwire Oregon, May 1st in Corvallis (on the campus of Oregon State), brings national and international leaders together to discuss how broadband wireless will change our communities. This conference is not about how technology works but how technology changes how we work and learn.

Unwire Oregon features lots of great speakers including Ron Resnick, Chairman of WiMAX Forum, Chris Sacca, Head of Special Initiatives for Google, One Economy’s Rey Ramsey, M2Z Networks’s Jon Muleta, Tropos Network’s Ron Sege, and many others.

The economics of municipal WiFi is still a question for EarthLink, which said Thursday it will study the performance of its municipal wireless Internet networks in four cities — Philadelphia, New Orleans and California’s Anaheim and Milpitas — before deciding how to move forward with similar Wi-Fi networks elsewhere.

EarthLink is “not yet able to establish that comfort level” that the investments are really profitable, said Kevin Dotts, EarthLink’s chief financial officer.

That doesn’t mean EarthLink is pulling the plug on cities under contract, like Houston, which would eventually be the nation’s largest network at about 600 square miles, Dotts said. EarthLink is also pitching a muni plan for Chicago.

Taipei’s Wi-Fi system, the world’s largest, with more than 4,200 antennas and counting, has fallen far short of expectations, reports the SF Chronicle. But that hasn’t detered the city, which plans to expand their network using WiMAX.

Ian Haight (above), COO of Freewire, is using (among other options), Airspan WiMAX gear to provide low cost backhaul using fixed WiMAX in the unlicensed 5.8 GHz band. Stephouse Networks also delivers 5.8GHz WiMAX in the Portland area, using Proxim gear. They are also unwiring the college town of Corvallis, Oregon.

Clearwire is using licensed frequencies with Motorola basestations while Sprint WiMAX will be using Nokia basestations (in Portland). Tim Sweeney, Director of WiMAX Mobile Applications Lab for Intel, told DailyWireless editor Sam Churchill last week that Clearwire should have 40-50 WiMAX basestations operating in the Portland Metro area by the end of this year. Sweeney says interoperability and roaming is planned between the competing Mobile WiMAX providers.

Clearwire ended 2006 with around 206,000 wireless broadband users and had about 258,000 users at the end of the first quarter of this year. According to Wireless Week, Clearwire has licenses for 2.5 GHz spectrum covering 210 million people in the United States covering all or parts of 72 of the top 100 markets.

Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff will deliver the keynote address at the Wireless Communications Association International annual convention, June 13, in Washington, D.C.

Sprint’s Mobile WiMAX network will cover Chicago, Washington and Baltimore by the end of this year. Sprint expects the $3 billion project to reach more than 100 million Americans in 16 other cities by the end of 2008. Sprint and Clearwire are going head-to-head in Michigan. Clearwire’s business rates for broadband wireless will range from $40 to $50 per month, with $30 to $40 for households.

In the largest deployment of WiMAX anywhere in the world, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will soon float a tender to offer wireless broadband service in 1,000 cities across India.

All citizens of India may receive free 2Mbps internet by 2009, according to IndiaTimes. The government is proposing that the service would be provided by the state-owned BSNL and MTNL. Officials backing the plan are hoping that giving all residents access to high-speed internet would “boost economic activity”.

Globally, WiMAX, termed a disruptive technology by Business Week, is undergoing over 200 trials and deployed at some 40 locations commercially.

The Chinese WiMAX market will reach 8.39 million users in 2011, says the Yankee Group. Of the 8.39 mln users in 2011, nomadic and portable broadband access users will lead the Chinese market, accounting for 46% of the market in 2011. Mobile broadband and low-cost fixed wireless access services will come in second and third, accounting for 43% and 11% of the market, respectively, according to the Yankee Group.

Wireless Singapore utilizes three local wireless operators to deploy a free wireless broadband network. Using Firetide mesh products in the first phase, it supplies access speeds of up to 512kbps in public areas. The Wireless@SG project, targets people on-the-go who require wireless broadband access.

Large-scale wireless deployments are complex and governments should spend time upfront to develop a plan that will fit the needs of the community, says Firetide. They found the following areas to be key project elements that can be replicated for U.S. municipalities:

  • Select a Model That Works for Your Community – Singapore instituted for a government sponsored initiative Wireless@SG to ensure Wi-Fi access would be available to all its citizens. To cover the entire country of Singapore, multiple operators were utilized for regional zones to make the deployment more manageable.
  • Consider Future Applications – The government decided that it would include Wi-Fi access throughout all regions. It also called for future applications for voice and mobility so that wireless connectivity could be tapped while on the go.
  • Test and Correct Installation at Every Step – During the deployment, the service provider learned that the best location for an access point was not necessarily the best location for a wireless mesh node. Based on “test and correct method,” iCELL and Firetide engineers learned that placing wireless nodes up high, for best backhaul performance and place access points closer to the user communities allowed for the best network coverage.
  • Set Clear Expectations About Coverage: The free Wi-Fi service is slated to be available island-wide in major indoors and outdoors public places, but not in residential areas, where broadband connections are readily available. Setting expectations upfront, and planning for reliable performance in indoor public venues (cafes, malls, government buildings) prevented issues commonly seen in some of the U.S. Wi-Fi deployments.

Related DailyWireless articles include; Portland Gets MobileWiMAX?, State-wide Wireless Broadband Access, Mobile TV: Six Flavors, Grand Rapids + Clearwire, Clearwire Launches in Seattle, Clearwire’s $900M Payday, WiMAX World 2006, WiMAX Interop: Good So Far, Maravedis WiMAX Report, Intel Inside Clearwire, Moto in MobileWiMAX Chips, Sprint: It’s WiMAX! and Mobile WiMAX: It Begins

Virtual Earth Adds Cities

Seven new and updated 3D cities were published yesterday – Calgary, Redmond, Buffalo, Beaverton, Portland, Swindon and Brighton on Microsoft’s Virtual Earth.

Lots of aerial and Birds Eye imagery was published as well. Here’s Portland, Intel in Beaverton/Hillsdale, Calgary and Brighton.

Converting flat images into 3-D virtual-reality models that can be manipulated on-screen is the essense of Fotowoosh, which frees the person viewing a photograph from the photographer’s point of view so that he or she can explore perspectives other than the one the camera actually captured.

Freewebs, a Silver Spring, MD, company that hosts 14 million personal websites, is about to launch a consumer version of Derek Hoiem’s software on the Web. He hopes Web users will upload thousands of photographs to Fotowoosh and share the 3-D versions with other visitors, making the service into what he calls “a 3-D Flickr.” A test version of the Fotowoosh system will be launched in May. The system works best on outdoor images. Converted photos look a bit like the illustrations in children’s pop-up books: there’s an obvious “ground” corresponding to the flat page in a pop-up book, and vertical surfaces stand at right angles to the ground, representing objects such as walls, trees, and vehicles.

Microsoft’s Photosynth has a similar capability, but without the 3D model manipulation. Gigapixel imaging may be the next big thing.

Imagine video tours of your city from one hundred years ago, re-created from archived photographs. More fun than a Global Incident Map.

Whitacre Retires on $158M Package

AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre is getting a $158 million retirement package when the 65-year-old Texan retires this June, reports the Wall Street Journal. He’ll also make more than $1 million per year for three years as a consultant for the company, according to Business Week.

Other perks, include country club fees ($25,000) and automobile benefits ($24,000 a year).

AT&T argues that the pay is deserved because the company has “outperformed its peers in delivering value to stockholders” during Whitacre’s tenure. Whitacre took the top job at the company, then known as SBC Communications, in 1990. It morphed into the new AT&T and is now valued at just under 2.5 times its worth back then. Meanwhile the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index has risen more than four fold.

Randall Stephenson, the 47-year old chief operating officer of AT&T, was named on Friday to succeed Edward Whitacre as chairman and chief executive of the largest US telecommunications group.

One Laptop Per Child Morphs

The One Laptop Per Child program, promoting a $100 laptop has apparently morphed into a $176 laptop that can run Windows, reports Engadget.

Furthermore, 19 state governors have reportedly shown interest in grabbing a few of the inexpensive machines for their own schoolkids, and while the creator initially stated that the XOs were “designed for a totally different situation,” Nicholas Negroponte was also quoted as saying that business in the US “couldn’t be ignored.”

Two students’ work with OLPC led to a corporate gift of $500,000 by RealNetworks to the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University. RealNetworks was interested in seeing its open source Helix multimedia player modified for use in the children’s laptop.

Meanwhile, Intel’s World Ahead Program is developing the ClassMate PC, a similar project.

The Classmate PC was initially expected to sell for $200 per unit, but the price has steadily climbed and could reach between $250 and $400 at the official launch. Laptop Magazine has a side by side comparison of the OLPC and ClassMate laptops. OLPC News has the latest news.

OLPC’s XO laptop includes:

  • Processor: 433 Mhz AMD Geode processor
  • RAM: 256 MB dynamic RAM
  • FLASH: 1024 MiB SLC NAND flash
  • Batteries: nickel-metal hydride battery that allows anywhere between 6 and 20 hours depending on what features are in use. When power sockets aren’t available, users can recharge the battery with a built-in pull-string charger.
  • Screen: 7-1/2 inch dual-mode LCD supports a resolution of 1200×900 in monochrome mode and 800×600 in color mode.
  • Networking: wireless mesh network technology
  • MultiMedia: built-in microphone and an integrated camera can capture video at 30 frames per second with a resolution of 640×480.
  • I/O Options: a rubber-membrane keyboard and a touchpad that also supports stylus input.
  • Operating System: Linux
  • Price: The XO laptop was initially targeting $100 per unit, but the price reached $140 after the addition of several features, including the video camera.

Intel’s Classmate PC features:

  • Processor: Intel ULV 900 MHz Mobile Processor, Zero L2 cache, 400 MHz FSB
  • FLASH: 1GB/2GB NAND Flash
  • Screen: Seven inch LCD that supports a resolution of 800×480,
  • Batteries: Six-cell battery that provides approximately four hours of uptime when fully charged
  • Networking: built-in Ethernet and 802.11G wireless hardware.
  • MultiMedia: Stereo 2 Channel Audio, Built-in Speakers and Microphone, Jack for External Output and Microphone Input
  • I/O Options: Users can input notes with an optional wireless pen device
  • Operating System: Windows XP Pro*/ Linux*
  • Price: Classmate PC was initially targeting $200 per unit, the price has climbed and could be anywhere between $250 and $400 at launch.

Mobile applications are the key. They make city clouds work. They set a tone of collaboration, playfulness and productivity. They create demand and make money. For the next billion.

Especially when they’re open source.

Belair and Lucent teamed to develop The WAGZone (Wireless Athens Georgia Zone), the first (and arguably the best) municipal wireless network in the United States. It uses seven BelAir200 units to form a wireless network throughout 24 blocks of downtown Athens, Georgia.

The Wireless Athens Zone has developed hundreds of mobile applications. Each year, they select a theme to anchor its investigation of mobile media. Students and faculty collaborate with industry leaders to produce prototypes around this theme.

UG’s New Media Institute director, Scott Shamp, launched the WAGZone in 2002 and the Mobile Media Consortium, a public/private partnership to develop mobile applications. Sybase iAnywhere is used in many of their projects.

Java Micro Edition (Java ME) has become a popular option for creating games and applications for cell phones, since they can be emulated on a PC during the development stage and easily uploaded to the phone. Sun Microsystems released significant portions of the J2ME source code last year, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and released under the project name phoneME.

Harvard University and BBN Technologies are developing a city-wide, real-time sensor network. Their CitySense network will monitor urban weather and pollution. Each CitySense node includes a Soekris motherboard running the Linux OS with 64MB of RAM and 1GB of flash memory.

A new telematics platform by Ezuriothe Wireless Intelligent Telematics System (WITS) combines inexpensive, intelligent vehicle data logging with a cellular-free (Wi-Fi) connection. It uses a standard SQL database.

Google has a free map tool that allows users to easily create a Google Maps mashup with a few clicks. It’s designed to make it easy for people to share knowledge about their neighborhoods.

Platial has many features that Google doesn’t. Platial’s slider bar will find the best stuff from around the web using terms which have been tagged on Platial, Flickr, YouTube, Yahoo Local, etc. Platial’s MapKit works on WordPress and Typepad.

The SenseWeb project at Microsoft Research is building a common platform and set of tools. Microsoft says SenseWeb will enable data owners to easily publish data and users to easily make queries of live sensor data.

At Mix ’07, Microsoft turned the spotlight on Silverlight, its Flash challenger, and opened up about its Web strategy. Silverlight Streaming, a Microsoft-hosted service, lets people embed streaming media in a Web page. Silverlight is a flexible programming model that supports AJAX, Visual Basic .NET, C#, Python, and Ruby. Silverlight is a serious development environment that puts desktop performance on the web, says TechCrunch.

Ruby on Rails is a web application framework, that increases the speed and ease with which database-driven web sites can be created and offers skeleton code (scaffolding) from the outset. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), makes web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes. MySQL, developer of the world’s most popular open source database, has formed a new Telecom business unit with better performance and availability than proprietary technology.

A billion people will be using these new platforms. One City Block at a time.

Every big-city municipal wireless installation needs a Location Based Services development lab at the local community college or university. Ask your administration what they’re doing.

Then kick some butt.