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Friday, January 20, 2006

RadarGolf uses BPS to help you find your lost golf ball. The ball holds an RF chip and the user carries a radar device to track it down. Interestingly, the balls do not contain different chips, so there’s no way to determine if you’ve found your RadarGold ball or someone else’s. When close to ball, the handheld sends a signal that’s reflected by the ball, saying “I’m here.”

I’m no golfer, but apparently the USGA gives you just 5 minutes to find a ball before you are penalized. This $449 system - and you must use their balls ($39.95/dozen) - ideally solves that problem.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/20 at 12:45 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Yesterday, another article appeared in the mainstream press about the virtues of location technology. This time, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, "Software Is Close to Putting Users On the (3-D) Map," which meandered banally: Maps on cell phones…find me the Starbucks, 3-D maps.

What? I’m not sure what the editor told writer Ann Keeton what the focus of the artcles should be, but it served little other than to highlight three disparate companies that did something peripheral to 3-D mapping and which did not tie well at all to the graphic that accompanied the article: a cell phone with a photo of a city street on its display and a caption saying, "You Are Here." Silicon Graphics, Harris Corporation, and Planet 9 Studios were the companies mentioned but there was absolutely no relationship between these companies and the mobile location technology that was discussed at the outset of the article.

Was the article about mobile technology or 3-D mapping…or maybe 3-D mapping on the phone? I think the later. However, I would hope that the WSJ would, in the future, try to discuss how these companies will propose sound business models for why it makes sense to have 3-D technology on a mobile device and those business models that auger success. In fairness, the article also mentioned Google Earth and Microsoft’s Live Local as those offering 3-D mapping online, I suppose because those are the companies that are supposed to get all the ink. But next time, let’s hope the mainstream business press, especially the Journal, will deliver something a bit more cogent.

by Joe Francica on 01/20 at 07:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Google has joined the Open Geospatial Consortium as a principal member.

I think that’s just great and applaud the decision of the company to be more involved with standards in general and geospatial ones in particular. Maybe it even helps them not be evil?

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/19 at 12:23 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Autodesk has shared that it’s decided on a name for its open source code once known as Tux. It will be called MapGuide Open Source and Autodesk MapGuide for the open and productized versions, respectively.

Recall that Tux was initially rolled out as MapServer Enterprise at Autodesk University. The existing MapServer community was concerned, and so apparently was the existing MapGuide community for whom this was sort of “the next release.” I give Autodesk credit for agreeing early on to change the name.

If the MapServer name implied a relationship with the existing MapServer code and perhaps diminished the original MapServer, which would have taken on the name MapServer Cheetah, this name implies a relationship with MapGuide. And, there is one, it’s been developed to this point by the same company and does many of the same things that earlier version did. That’s about it, however, since the code bases are fundamentally different. The “new” MapGuide was written from scratch purely as open source code. The “old” version was acquired from Argus back in the 1990s and is still proprietary.

That said, I like this choice. First off, MapGuide is a great name for mapping software, despite its somewhat redundant nature. Second, it puts much of the challenge of explaining the relationship of “old” MapGuide to “new” MapGuide on Autodesk. With the MapServer name much of that burden would have fallen to the MapServer community. I’m sure the community could have hanlded that challenge, but why should it hold that burden? Third, the choice makes it clear that MapServer and MapGuide are two different projects from the start. They may share code down the line, but now its clear they come from different parents.

Finally, I am somewhat perplexed by the odd blog comment I read that seems less than positive about the upcoming meeting in Chicago of the yet to be named foundation that will house MapGuide Open Source and MapServer. I’m quite optimistic about it. Why? I think the people going are doing so to get something done. Many of folks are experts in compromise, harmonization and patience. That’s why they are going.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/19 at 09:21 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Consider this: Pulaski County (Missouri) 911 has the best, most up-to-date street maps of the rural county. It shares them with local fire fighters and other county workers for free (as it should). It just this week agreed to sell maps (not the data mind you) to local real estate agents, workers and construction workers. The cost is $25, just $5 over production cost. But of course, they need to come in every few weeks and buy an update.

But, there is good news:

[Michelle] Graves [director of the 911 board] also told her board that she’s in the process of getting price quotes for a major GPS study of the county — a mapping system that would link the county’s geography to satellite imagery and use it to precisely locate positions in the county.

I suspect that’s GIS, and hope it means that the accurate 911 maps can be shared more easily in time.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/19 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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