It’s Time to Realize Our Location Concerns Aren’t Dumb

Hot on the heels of the furor over Apple’s location databases, personal navigation device giant TomTom is in trouble for selling speed data to police. But both companies have shown how technology firms are too quick to dismiss the worries of their customers.

Garmin Looks to Location Tracker to Stay Relevant

With Garmin’s automotive navigation device sales stagnant and its Garminfone and Nuvifone business a disappointment, the company is looking to a GPS locator for people and property called the GTU 10 as a new business that can expand on its core competency in location.

How Free Changed the Navigation Game Forever

Free and bundled mobile navigation services are bringing once-pricey turn-by-turn services to the masses, and the masses are responding in a big way. That’s the upshot of a new study which found that the number of mobile users utilizing turn-by-turn navigation on their handset increased.

T-Mobile’s New Garminfone Trumps Google Navigation

GPS navigation maker Garmin is trying the smartphone game again with a new model for T-Mobile. Only this time, Garmin is using Google Android. How can a GPS company compete with Google Navigation on a handset? There’s one key advantage that Garmin is able to offer.

Does “Cool Cars” Rule Block Wireless Signal? Cali Says No

A new rule in California meant to help keep vehicles cool in the sun (and thus cut the need for fuel-chugging air conditioners) could interfere slightly with signal reception for GPS devices, but probably won’t block most mobile phone signals. Those are some of the findings in a report released this month by the California Air Resources Board, which dug into the matter after gadget and car makers protested that metallic glazing required under the so-called Cool Cars initiative would block, or at least degrade, in-car wireless reception.

Set to phase in starting with the 2012 model year, the Cool Cars regulation comes as part of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which mandates a drop in greenhouse gas emissions for the state to 1990 levels by 2020. Noting that “reflective windows are known to attenuate electromagnetic waves,” ARB explains in its report that it researched ways to work around this problem and decided to allow a small portion to be removed from the glaze (a “deletion” window, pictured at left) where signals would be able to come through unhindered. Nice try, but not enough, said Garmin International, Toyota, Nissan and other companies in recent months. Read More about Does “Cool Cars” Rule Block Wireless Signal? Cali Says No

The Dawning Age of Social Navigation

[qi:gigaom_icon_mobile] Within five years, your cell phone will replace your Garmin, TomTom or whatever personal navigation device is currently sitting in your car, according to a Forrester report published today. Forrester supports this conclusion by arguing that more young people are using their cell phones for navigation and that because the phone is web-connected rather than offering static data, it provides a greater benefit. I’m not sure I would toss out the old Garmin just yet, however. Read More about The Dawning Age of Social Navigation

7 Ways to Cut Fuel Consumption With IT

Biofuels and electric vehicles are offering new forms of transportation, but let’s face it: cellulosic ethanol remains years away from commercial-scale production and electric vehicles are years from being manufactured for the mass market. In the mean time, while we’re waiting for those green goodies to make it to market, companies are using software, the web and and communication networks to develop tools to help today’s vehicles become more efficient. We’ll be delving into some of these topics at our Green:Net conference on March 24 in San Francisco. Here are seven of our favorite tools that can help drivers of gas-chugging cars cut down on fuel and reduce carbon emissions:

1). Online Eco-Driving School: Startup GreenRoad Technologies sells a subscription service for a web-based educational tool that tracks driving habits (and encourages safer, more efficient ones) via an in-vehicle monitoring system. The company, which is backed by at least $20 million from Virgin Green, Benchmark Capital, Amadeus Capital and Balderton Capital, sells its service to enterprise fleet customers that want to save on fuel and have employees drive more safely. GreenRoad says driving habits are responsible for 33 percent of fuel consumption and more than 95 percent of vehicle crashes.
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How the Nuvifones Can Survive As Niche Devices

When Garmin announced in the lead-up to the Mobile World Congress an ongoing deal with Asus to build its long-anticipated Nuvifone GPS phone line, you could practically hear the wincing. Within hours, the move was alternately being called an admission of failure (Garmin originally planned to build the phone itself) and a desperate ploy to ride the goodwill engendered by Asus’ EeePC netbook. Analysts projected that new phones with versatile GPS features would crush the Nuvi by the time the device was finally released. The naysayers are jumping the gun. A GPS-focused phone can be a viable device so long as it follows the golden rule of the mobile market: Do one thing really well.