Alright my fellow readers, what do you think the future holds for automotive GPS devices? For example, during 2011 at the CES, or other places that have had new product announcements, what do you think we are likely to see? I do see to recall some discussion about a Garmin Nuvi 1695. Do you think the Motorola GPS concept of connecting wirelessly from the GPS to a nearby smartphone will be a feature? That might be very popular for people that are already traveling with a smartphone that has a data plan. Would a basic web browser with the ability to get data from either wifi or a bluetooth connect smartphone be handy? That way when you are parked you could simply remove the GPS and use its larger screen to view what might be available on the smartphone. I think that there are other possibilities that might be worthwhile. For example, integrate a NOAA Weather Alert receiver and when there is an alert it could display similar to home monitors. Perhaps yellow LED for severe weather watch and red LED for severe weather warming. I think that it could even be worthwhile to receive the Amber Alert data on a device like this. Nothing too distracting, but just enough in case of a nearby child kidnapping. I realize that some will be quick to point out that this can be distracting, but if Garmin can embed commercials for "free traffic" I don't see that this is that much more distracting.
The other feature that I would like to see if more accurate maps. I am not trying to be critical, but for the areas that have anomalies it might take more memory to correct the anomalies, but it might be worth it. I really don't think that we have come to a dead end on stand alone automotive GPS devices and I think that even the ability to "add apps" on your device might be worthwhile.
I have mentioned this before, but adding something like Slacker Radio that will allow caching of music over wifi would be nice. Perhaps a Garmin Nuvi that is based on Android! You could download the application and take advantage of other location based features. Let it download movies via wifi and when the vehicle is parked and the wife is shopping, I could watch a quick video. Again, safety is paramount, so devise it so that feature would only work will parked or only allow audio when in motion. The more I think about this, a Garmin version of a Dell streak would be nice. Have great GPS built in, allow for a micro SD for memory expansion, allow, but don't require, a slot for a SIM card that is unlocked and will work with 3G bands on AT&T or T-Mobile in the US.
I even had a wilder idea of integrating a FRS/GMRS/MURS transceiver in the device. That way if you are caravaning with others you would have the ability to communicate from vehicle to vehicle. Sort of like an automotive Garmin Rino. That way you could share your position wirelessy with other similarly equipped users as well as talk to them on GMRS just like the Garmin Rinos.
Or, for the Nextel crowd, use the 902-928 ISM Band, for legal, license free digital communications. (Think Direct Talk simplex built in). I think that would allow both position sharing AND two way voice on essentially the same path. You could communicate, vehicle to vehicle, and send your position. That way when the driver ahead sees a road hazard, he or she can simply tell the vehicle following to slow down, change lanes, exit ahead, etc.
Or to take it one step further, you might even be able to built in technology that shares the traffic pattern with other units wirelessly. I believe it is being done now
is to follow what happened in aircraft nav systems.
Inertial platforms (such as gyroscopes) were the norm, but they had problems -- taking time to start up, sensitive and finicky, expensive... Advances such as laser ring and fiber optic gyros cured some of the problems, but not the expense.
Overlaying GPS on an inertial platform lets you go back to simpler accelerometers and play both sensor systems off against each other to produce an aircraft platform that's less expensive, starts up quickly, and is highly reliable.
On the automotive side, it's going the opposite way, starting with GPS, but GPS has its problems with "urban canyons," tunnels, sub-optimal installations, and the like.
But now even handheld devices have accelerometers, and they're accurate and stable over wide temperature ranges.
So couple your automotive GPS with a simple inertial platform (and even better, inputs from the car, such as wheel speeds from the ABS subsystem, and a compass input for the OEM/built in systems so many of us don't like), and you can have a much more robust platform, one which will continue to give accurate results in those nasty urban environments.
It's no longer just GPS, but GPS as part of the overall nav (inav) solution.
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