iPad Street View

C/Net says that Google maps on Apple’s iPad, with a large touch screen, integrated digital compass, and Wi-Fi triangulation is compelling.

But you’ll need to invest in a 3G-capable model for the best location information. The 3G-enabled iPad pings nearby cell towers as an additional means to determine your location (along with Wi-Fi signal triangulation), and the hardware on the 3G models includes extra assisted-GPS hardware, providing a true GPS experience that you can’t get on the Wi-Fi only iPads.

The hands-on video demonstrates the map’s street view mode. With the screen nearly three times the size of the iPhone’s, street view is impressive and easier to handle than a comparable laptop screen.

There’s also a new terrain view, which shows off topographical data. If you’re taking a walking or biking tour and using an iPad, the new topographical layer can help you avoid hills. This feature may be rolled out to the iPhone and iPod Touch in a future firmware update, but for now, it’s only on the iPad.

You can drop virtual pins in your map, create lists of favorite locations, search for local restaurants and points of interest, double-tap or pinch to zoom, and get directions specific for car, foot, or public transportation.

Augmented reality is not yet supported, but it’s not inconceivable that it may in the near future. Apps such as Yelp are already harnessing the camera/GPS combination of the iPhone. Third-party manufacturers may come out with a snap-on camera for the iPad eventually, but for now, the iPad’s augmented reality potential is limited without a camera.

That could be pretty sweet for bike or Segway tours.

Augmented reality could provide information on what you’re looking at, while Street View could provide directions.

I think I’ll wait for a $400 Android variant of the iPad with free navigation, built-in camera, SD cards, Flash, WiMAX, multitasking and HDMI output for the Big Screen.

Nvidia’s Tegra graphics is hard to beat. Tests indicate ION will beat even CULV laptops. Maybe I’ll attach one of those RFID tracker thingies.

Acer, Asus, Dell and MSI will also have Atom-based tablets using ‘Pineview’ CPUs with ‘Pinetrail’ NM10 graphics running Moblin 2.0 or Win-7. They’ll also run Streetview and Augmented Reality and cost hundreds less than the iPad.

Moorestown-based designs include the LG GW990 smartphone, the Aava Mobile smartphone, and the OpenPeak tablet.

Handsfree Laws: Working?

Oregon drivers who hold their cell phones to talk now a $142 traffic ticket. But a new study says handsfree laws don’t do much to reduce crashes, reports The Oregonian.

As Oregon motorists continue adjusting to the state’s month-old ban on handheld cell phones, a surprising new study (pdf) says hands-free phone laws don’t actually reduce crashes.

“Obviously, it runs counter to a lot of predictions about cell phones and crashes,” said Russ Radar, a spokesman for the Highway Loss Data Institute, which conducted the study, “but this is the first study in which have been able to look at what’s happening in real world.”

A recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study in two states and the District of Columbia, focusing on handheld cell phone use, found that bans have reduced the activity significantly.

Just last week, a National Safety Council study found that 28 percent of all crashes nationwide involved drivers talking on their phones or texting — an increase to 1.6 million collisions in 2008 compared with 1 million in an earlier review.

But the Highway Loss Data Institute for the first time looked at actual insurance collision claims in California, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., all of which ban drivers from using handheld phones while behind the wheel.

The study compared data from surrounding states without cell phone bans at the time. The study, for example, says the frequency of collision claims in California before and after its hands-free law passed were no different from those in Nevada, Arizona and Oregon, where the handsfree law didn’t go into effect until Jan. 1.

At the same time, Radar said, the study shouldn’t be taken as validation by opponents of cell-phone restrictions. “We’re not saying that cell phones are any less of a risk,” he said.

After a month, it’s far too early to say if Oregon’s restrictions have made the roads safer. But state officials were skeptical of the new study’s findings. “It’s one study,” said Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings. “Other studies show the dangers associated with handheld cell phones.”
So far, focused police patrols have found Oregonians hanging up on the highways, but having trouble following the new law in urban areas.

Another problem with such studies is that drivers are often reluctant to admit to police and insurance companies that distractions led to a crash.

This week, for instance, New York State Police arrested a long-haul trucker a month after he crashed into a stalled car and killed a mother of two near Buffalo. Police say an examination of the truck driver’s laptop found that he had been watching pornography at the time of the crash, something that the man had neglected to tell investigators.

Solar Powered RFID Tracks Bikes

The Dero Bike Rack Company has developed a system which enables employers and employees to keep track their pedaled commutes using a solar powered RFID system.

Their Dero ZAP product, is a solar powered, Wi-Fi connected RFID system that records the number of times each commuter arrives by bike. The system is similar to the technology found in Fast Pass RFID tags, used on toll roads.

When a commuter arrives at work, they pass through a read zone of a Dero ZAP device (video). It recognizes the tag which is registered to a specific employee. It acknowledges the read with an audible beep and flashing light.

The RFID collected information is transmitted via Wi-Fi to a central website that employers can access to create reports for payroll. The commuter can also log onto the website to confirm their commutes for the month.

Rob Nagler, a Boulder dad, was searching for a way to get kids interested in riding their bicycles to school. He used a M9 RFID reader module made by Colorado RFID developer SkyeTek. Here’s his documentation. It uses 900MHz with passive RF-ID tags that cost about a buck each. They can be attached to bikes, helments, backpacks or badges.

Nagler’s Freiker (Frequent biker) prototype proved successful. Nagler then partnered with the Dero Bike Rack Company to manufacture and sell the ZAP devices to end users. The Freiker costs $4,990 for the first year, and approximately half of that for each subsequent year. This fee includes one Freikometer, use of the website by the schools and kids, hardware and software support and maintenance, and 500 tags.

The Frieker motherboard uses a WLM54G WiFi card and uses a a 43 Watt Kyocera solar panel.

By contrast, Portland’s PersonalTelco uses tiny Alix boards from PC Engines for their new WiFi nodes. Metrix.net has some other boards commonly used for WiFi projects.

Perhaps Meraki’s $1200 solar powered system (right) could support an RF-ID reader. Meraki’s solar powered outdoor WiFi access points use lithium ion batteries with an integrated charge controller and can automatically link to nearby nodes using their 802.11g radios. The Meraki Dashboard manages your network. They can host it or you can host it.

Open-Mesh works with 3rd-party manufacturers and provides similar capabilities. The Open-Mesh dashboard, a web-based management solution, is also compatible with other dash solutions including Orangemesh, MeshConnect and Pro Mesh for anyone wanting to host their own web-based control panel.

The solar-powered Meraki can survive up to three days with no sunlight.

Alternatively, a complete solar WiFi system is available from Green WiFi (below).

You might make your own. Amazon has 50 watt panels with a charge controller for about $180. With a Clear WiMAX modem for backhaul ($80), and a 45 amp/hour marine battery ($80), a solar-powered node might built for under $500.

Add your favorite Wi-Fi access point and Dashboard management system. Sun-powered access points might be incorporated into bus shelters or train stops.

The Federal Bicycle Commuter Act, signed into law on Oct. 3, 2008, encourages employers to reward its employees who travel to work by bike, with $20.

Solar-powered nodes might be sponsored by newspapers. Tablets display live news and local ads. Ancillary income might be derived using RFID tags for joggers.

Public Alerts could be displayed on a scrolling reader board. News on the big screen. Signage PCs with Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi can be managed centrally. Public service as a commercial venture. Food Carts as media hubs.

Portland police will use Jive’s social networking tools to interact with community members through their “Portland Connects” initiative. The Haiti Live site is one model of the real-time web.

In related news, Veteran journalist Mark Schapiro explains the cap and trade carbon economy to Terry Gross and why the financial industry embraces it.

Handsets: 1.132 Billion Sold in 09

Global handset shipments reached 1.132 billion units worldwide in 2009 with 324 million handsets sold in the fourth quarter of 2009, 10 percent higher than a year earlier, according to new figures from Strategy Analytics.

The research firm said the numbers represented the handset market’s first quarter of positive growth since Q3 2008, signaling an end to the industry’s year-long recession.

South Korean vendors Samsung and LG again shipped record volumes, while Motorola and Sony Ericsson edged their way back toward profitability. Market leader Nokia shipped 126.9 million handsets worldwide in Q4 2009, jumping 12 percent from 113.1 million units a year ago. Full-year (2009) handset volumes of 1.13 billion units in 2009, slipped 4 percent from 1.18 billion in 2008.

Despite Nokia’s weakened position in the smartphone segment, it still managed to maintain 37.7% of the overall handset market, says ABI Research. Samsung, meanwhile, increased its market share from 15.2% to 20.5%.

White Spaces Heating Up

Spectrum Bridge points out that the IEEE 802.19 Wireless Coexistence Working Group is launching a new project (802.19.1), to develop a standard for devices operating in the TV white space.

TV white spaces are those not utilized by TV broadcasts or other licensed devices. For operation in the TV band, the FCC requires no interfere with local broadcasters. In order to insure that, white space devices need to know what transmitters are nearby and whether potential interference exists. Whitespace radios must automatically move to another channel if it detects an interference problem.

There are already several projects for development of standards for wireless networks operating in the TV white space.

There still doesn’t seem to be full consensus, on how many entities should be recruited for the database network, and what specific roles they should play. The public can offer feedback on White Space issues through February 3, and reply to comments through February 18. Further instructions are available from the FCC.

You can find out what TV White Spaces channels are available in your area – directly from your iPhone — for free.

Created by Spectrum Bridge, their “ShowMyWhiteSpaces” is the first iPhone application for locating available TV White Spaces channels anywhere in the US.

On October 22, 2009, high-level executives from Microsoft met officials of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to demonstrate how vacant spectrum can be used to provide broadband services at a fraction of the cost incurred by existing players. Researchers at Redmond have been working on this technology for more than two years and call the technology White-Fi.

They believe it can be a game changer for India and the United States.

Comix As Life

I enjoy writing articles on wireless technology. I pursue my bliss. Dailywireless.org has been my sole source of income for nearly 8 years. While I often wonder how I’ll pay the rent, the upside is that I am (generally) pretty happy.

I can afford this experiment. I have no dependents. The real downside is the possibility of living on the street. But I’ve done that before and it doesn’t scare me that much (as long as I could maintain my wireless connection:)

A preferable option is money in the bank, of course. Which is the topic of this post.

When the Kindle came out, I thought it might be The Answer. It wasn’t. So far it’s generated about $18. But I am a perpetual optimist. Writers, journalists, coders, musicians, artists and other creative types are more empowered then ever before.

Consider the following:

Perhaps a $300-$500 Android Tablet could mobilize blogging. A revenue stream via the subscription model, like Amazon’s or Apple’s, could be a viable option. Maybe a monthly download for offline access. The universal ePub format might deliver it.

Here are some publishing tools to create E-Pub documents. Sigil is a free WYSIWYG ePUB editor that works on most platforms. Maybe HTML5 video and more flexible layout options will be available soon.

Stories with embedded multi-media. The social hub. Comix as life. That’s a revolution.

I can’t wait. I’ve got nothing to lose.