7 posts from Mio Tech Insight
Over the coming weeks we'll be looking at the features (Explore Mode, Junction View/Signposts, Capture button and Crumb Trail, and Economic Routing) available on the latest Mio navigation devices and how they apply to you. A different style to our user manuals, these guides will explain how to get the most out your Mio PND (Portable Navigation Device) in a way that applies directly to your situation.
A key feature of the PND and deliberately separate from the map function, Explore mode has been designed to help you find points of interest (POI) in your immediate area. It's unique because it shows you which POI's are in the immediate area rather than you having to search for a specific type of POI and hoping that one exists where you are now. You can of course find them in the old fashioned way, but we believe this is more flexible.
Scenario 1 - Need to find something to do in strange place?
We've all arrived early for a meeting or found ourselves in an unfamiliar town waiting for a meeting the next day and not knowing what to do with ourselves. You have a choice: you can either wander aimlessly around the main streets hoping to find something interesting to do or you can use Explore Mode on your Mio Moov series PND.
If you can't decide what to do, but want to know what's available in your vicinity you can see the intuitive icons on the map.
To find out more about a place you've chosen, tap the icon to see its address, telephone number and other important information.
Scenario 2 – Spontaneously looking for somewhere to stop
When you're on your way somewhere its common to stick to the main highways, they're often quicker, if a lot less interesting, than minor roads. But your choice of food is limited; you want to get off the highway but are unsure of where to go and nervous about getting lost and not finding your way back again. Explore Mode takes the anxiety out of such decisions by telling you exactly what restaurants are available when you want.
Select the place you want to go and tap Go
Got more thoughts or better ideas of using Explore Mode?
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The latest buzz word to hit the streets this autumn is augmented reality (AR). We had virtual reality 25 years ago and that never lived up to the hype; will augmented reality have the same fate?
First of all, what is it? The simple answer is that augmented reality is the superimposing/merging of graphical images onto the real world. By combining this with a video camera and GPS system the results will be amazing.
Picture from Layer
Here at Mio we believe augmented reality will become more popular as the systems creating them become more sophisticated. Whilst Mio are investigating the feasibility of this technology for GPS navigation devices, it could be some time before it sees the light of day.
Until the software can adequately demonstrate the route you have to drive, as well as the next turn and speed, it's going to be a while before AR totally replaces the current map views that we have now. In the meantime augmented reality company, Mobilzy, have produced a product that marks the beginning of how AR in-car navigation devices could work. Wikitude Drive shows you where the next turn will be, the distance to the turn, the ETA and speed. Mio believes that it's still lacking some of the essential features necessary for a complete driving experience, but it's a start.
Besides in-car navigation the GPS receiver in many cell phones is being used for applications that will tell you more details about what you're looking at. In others you'll be able to find out how the nearest restaurant is rated amongst others in the area. Whatever you’re looking for, it can probably be found.
Picture from Wikitude
In recent months these apps have become more prolific and every few months some new "must have" piece of software appears in your in-box, ready for you to download to your phone. In August, Mobilzy, Layar and Yelp showed their AR offerings. Mobilzy released the Wikitude 3D browser an application which lets you discover more about the history of your surroundings. Point the camera at a famous building or point-of-interest and Wikitude will provide detailed historical information about it. Users can also add their own POI's which will increase the size of the database. Layar provides a similar application but with a different look and feel. Layar gets its information from a variety of sources and users can help add POI's by connecting to Flickr. Yelps offering is far more localized and kind of not official (go here for the Easter egg activation instructions), but if you're in San Francisco and you have an iPhone it could be worth downloading. October's offering is Urbanspoon, a great app that will provide you with reviews of restaurants around the US and, like Wikitude, users can add to its success by adding their own reviews, and its new "Scope" feature displays bright circles with average ratings and different sizes depending on their distance.
Picture from Yelp
Besides cell phone apps, AR is gathering momentum in such fields as car mechanics, car navigation, 3D games and music videos. Mechanics working on high-end cars can have their jobs made easier as BMW demonstrates in this video. The first game using ZugMo Motion Capture Technology brings AR to your home computer. CannonBallz, is a bit of fun where you have to dodge virtual cannon balls. Your image is captured via a webcam and you can use Facebook to challenge your friends. Finally, at the Adobe Max convention, singer-songwriter John Mayer announced that he'll be releasing an AR music video. From the 19th October you too will be able to play with this technology if you go to http://www.johnmayer.com and print out the specially designed augmented reality marker and then hold it in front of your computer's webcam, where your image will be shown on the backdrop of John Mayer singing his latest song.
The applications above are just the start and the links below are the future.
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Insider and cool Links
Ad Creation - How AR is changing advertising
The future, today
Coming to a cereal box near you
Picture from Yanko Design
The possibilities are intriguing—a small portable device that can project a map, along with your location, onto virtually any surface. Maptor promises to do just that. This slick looking proof-of-concept combines a digital projector and a GPS into a form factor roughly equivalent to those mini flashlights you dangle from your key chain. While the idea has potential, this prototype personal navigation device raises a few questions here at Mio.
Small projectors have been a reality for several years now. One needs look no further than the projector phones currently coming out of Asia. Applications for compact projector technology include portable computing and presentations, video and image display, and even gaming, but are we ready for compact GPS projectors?
Desert sun - a difficult place to use a Maptor
The common problem with projectors is that nearly all require a dark or semi-dark environment to operate properly. However, it appears that the makers of Maptor imagine the device being used mostly for outdoor navigation. It is difficult for our own design gurus to imagine such a small device generating the candlepower necessary to project a readable image in direct sunlight. Midday desert hikes are definitely out. The Mio engineers also point out that projector lamps run notoriously hot. There is a row of tiny vents near the lens-end of the device, but will these be sufficient to dissipate heat during normal use? Talk about too-hot-to-handle!
Not to be labeled overly skeptical, we are encouraged by the innovative potential behind the Maptor design concept. Looking to the future, we at Mio see a world of possibilities for the integration of small personal GPS devices into our everyday lives. The navigation device market continues to expand into new and exciting areas. As GPS chipsets become smaller and more powerful, innovators have begun to integrate personal navigation technology into watches, clothing and even footwear. However, this compact GPS projector needs more work before it realizes its potential.
The future of projection in the personal navigation market may be something along the lines of Pranav Mistry's prototype gadget, SixthSense. The ultimate geek dream, SixthSense takes a page from the futuristic vision of Minority Report, in which computer users interface with holographic touch screens. The device's main components are a pocket projector, mirror, camera and colored pads worn on the fingertips. Like Maptor, SixthSense projects images onto walls and other surfaces, but takes things a step further by allowing the user to interact with the projected image using hand gestures a la Tom Cruise's character in the aforementioned film. The prototype even includes a map application that allows navigation via hand gestures to pan and zoom in and out of the map area. If this functionality were wed to a GPS, the possibilities would be even more intriguing.
Devices like SixthSense and Maptor show that we are on the brink of seeing some amazing leaps forward in personal navigation and GPS technology. Here at Mio, we look forward to seeing where these lead as prototypes become more polished.
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