December 10, 2004

New Geo-Games

Yay, two more cool new GeoGames out there. The first is another take on Pac-Man, technically quite like the ARQuake project.


'Remember back in May when those crazy kids at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program were using cellphones to play giant games of Pac-Man on the streets of Manhattan? Yeah, well they just got one-upped by the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore, which is using head-mounted displays, inertia sensors, GPS receivers, and Bluetooth to play their own real-life version of Pac-Man (except they call it “Human Pacman”). Players can roam around the streets of Singapore gobbling up virtual pellets and power pills. (Weird side note: the project was financed by the Singaporean military, which apparently is looking for new ways to prepare for a ghost invasion.) They hope to have a version that you can play on cellphones ready within two years.' [engadget]

The other is called Glofun RayGun, and is planned to be released early 2005 by GloVentures.


'A mobile loaded with RayGun software emits "spectral" energy that lets you attract and track ghosts. But that energy annoys the ghosts, so you have to "ionize" them before they get to you.

To aim the raygun at a ghost, you must physically move toward it. The faster you walk/run, the higher the raygun’s range.' [near near future]

Oh and it uses the Nextel GPS phones, so you can beta test for free if you have the i710 or i730. By the way, I own the i860, and man is it sweet, if you don't mind the shitty outgoing plans. GPS and cameraphone. I love it.

By the way... kids, don't make prank phone calls to 911, especially with a GPS cellphone.

Posted by nym at 08:58 PM | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

New Geography Con

[from Rich Gibson's Photos]

fortmap.jpgA GeoWanker friend of mine, Mike Liebhold organized the New Geography confrence with the Institute for the Future. Tech writer, Howard Rheingold wrote up his take of the "locative experience" which included a psychogeographic walk using tablet PCs and Chris Goad's maps from his company Map Bureau.

'Together with a busload of other geoweb neophytes, I found myself carrying a GPS-equipped tablet PC around a decommissioned army base overlooking the Golden Gate. I clicked on one of the hotspots on the photomap of our location. A note popped up -- from the late, great Jerry Garcia, who had been quoted in print about the place we were exploring because Fort Scott in San Francisco's Presidio is where Garcia served in the army in his pre-Dead and predead days.' [The Geoweb and Deep Place]

Pictured to the right is one of the maps the group used, which is a really great example of what geotagging can bring out about the world around us.


[The Geoweb and Deep Place. Thanks Mike!]

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July 20, 2004

Directions for Pedestrians

pedtran.gifEver try using mapquest to get walking directions? A bit afraid to take their recommendation to use the freeway? Maybe you need better directions...

"PEPTRAN is able to plan the best possible journey between two points, using a combination of driving, walking and public transport services.

Whereas traditional journey planning services only offer one mode of transport, PEPTRAN is able to offer a journey based on driving, walking and public transport services. You might start your journey by driving to the edge of a city, where PEPTRAN will direct you to a car park which has vacant spaces. PEPTRAN will then tell you how to reach the nearest metro station or bus stop, and will tell you which line or service to take to reach your destination. To offer the best possible route from A to B, PEPTRAN knows what is happening out on the street. For example, if your bus is running late, maybe there's a better way?" [PEPTAN]

The service is only offered in Winchester and Hapshire in the UK, and Torino in Italy, but ideas like these don't generally stay so localized. Maybe some big map company will take the hint, and start including public transport information in their maps.

[Link via near near future]

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July 16, 2004

GPS Waypoints for Burning Man

Above photo is a montage of the road data + art installations, the lower right image is what it will likely look like on your GPS. I used the Mad Max photo since he looks pretty lost like I usually am.

If you're going to Burning Man, and you're taking a GPS, you might want to nab these files, which are waypoints for Burning Man. They look a bit old, as the playa changes slightly every year, but I'll make sure to get the skinny since I'm doing technomadics at Burning Man anyways.

"These maps work with pretty much any handheld GPS receiver with a graphic screen and a computer connection cable; you do not need a "Mapping" receiver. They use the "track" and "waypoint" memories to draw streets and important locations on your GPS receiver's screen." [Mapping Black Rock City with GPS]

[Link from]

Posted by nym at 07:30 PM | TrackBack

Who Maps the Mapmakers?

My friend and mapmaker Jo Walsh (aka zool) writes:

"i spill out of the station with my bike, a three-lane motorway ringed with concrete blocks all of my prospect. i ask the station guard if there's a map here, or if he has any idea where i'm going. "ironically enough, i'm visiting the ordnance survey." "sorry, i'm not from round here," he replies. i set off down the carriageway and buy a geographers A-Z streetmap from a garage." [who maps the mapmakers, ad infinitum]

Why is it that most cartographers are hopelessly lost? Maybe I'm speaking from experience, but it seems like mapping, despite being one of the oldest exploratory traditions, is still quite young. Some people seem to think the world has already been discovered by people like Columbus and Magellan, but I think they just scratched the surface.

"the subjects of provenance, and of trust, layered on top of instance data, seem to be of strong interest; an interesting negotiation, between statements "that the [Ordinance Survey] has been imposing its view on england, its government and citizens, for most of the last 200 years... for the last 20, it's been listening to what the customer wants, and telling them regretfully they can't have it." but now perhaps there is a technological solution to their core problem; maintaining their IPR and status as trusted source, while allowing user contribution - but very much 'using' the users.

so they're looking for a killer RDF app, like everyone else. i maintain that the solution and the problem are the same thing; not a killer app, but a thousand interlocking sub-apps, enhancing each other; the swarm of bots, propelling themselves about a fluid continuum."

Jo gets it. She knows the power of RDF coupled with geo technologies. Defining space is about the name space and semantics. Trying to get well established companies and government cartography institutions to open up is a bit like trying to get your cat to take a bath. Even in countries like the United States, where government maps are more open, they still aren't reliable enough to use for generic things like driving directions, and the only other option is to lease expensive geographic feeds from companies like Mapquest and ESRI.

"The mapping and position-finding technology is all there, says Ed Parsons, Ordnance Survey's chief technology officer. "We know where you are, we know what you're looking at." The only lack is a business model for supplying data to individuals - and a PDA with attributes, such as a screen that can be read in daylight." [Gardian]

In this writer's opinion, community and open-source developers will be the ones forging the emerging cartography world, not a business model or better PDAs. Jo is the smartest girl I know, and possibly the smartest geek I know. The Ordinance Survey could greatly benefit the people of Britian if they open up and listen to cartography pioneers like Jo Walsh, who are often all too eager to hack shit up in the name of progress.

[Link from]

Posted by nym at 06:57 AM | TrackBack

July 15, 2004

Mobile Social Software List

Near Near Future futurism fangirl Regine says "I just read that you have to write a paper about locative games: [elastic space › Mobile social software applications] (via the excellent "Pasta & Vinegar")". This is a "growing list of social applications that work in a mobile context", but often the social mobile networks are just as fun as the ones with fantasy and complicated scoring systems.

Thanks Regine!

[Link. Photos from Asphalt-games]

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July 14, 2004

Elephant Paths

Using ideas behind collaborative cartography, Elephant Paths attempts to find common routes by doing analysis on GPS tracklogs. The author, Mari Keski-Korsu calls it "a project that explores a geographical and social space by mapping paths.", and is generating simple flash maps that includes geo-referenced images and video links.

"It reveals something about the people’s social everyday life. For example a person can use the same path always when going to visit his lover. What kind of memories and motivations this person might have considering the path?" [we-make-money-not-art]

While the project is premature and doesn't yet scale, Elephant Paths is an interesting idea playing on community, space, and motivations, and definitely should be incorporated in larger collaborative mapping web sites.

[Link via we-make-money-not-art]

Posted by nym at 07:09 AM | TrackBack

July 01, 2004

Better than GPS

smartmoveXedit1.jpgAccelerometers are tiny sensors that can detect small ammounts of movement, which has a lot of potential for location and geo based projects that require pinpoint precision instead of the 20-60ft range most GPS units provide.

Microsoft has been doing development into the relm of wearable computers with projects like the SenseCam. Lyndsay Williams' research with Microsoft has produced a small and potentially cheap device that uses accelerometers along with other sensors to track light, skin resistance, heart rate, and one's movement. Something that most hospitals would love to have for their patients, as well as at-home-patients and the elderly.

[Link via Paul from WearCentral]

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June 26, 2004

Cellphone Location Sharing

After doing research on locative technology I found this tidbit about services like dodgeball and whoat (whoa-tee) that try to introduce people to each other by alerting them to people close to them geographically.

"The key difference between online and location-based mobile social networking is the fourth dimension - time. Online it's relatively easy to get critical mass , as I just need to recuit some like-minded people. In a mobile context, I need to recruit them AND have enough of them that they'll be in certain places at certain times. Mathematically (though I have no idea how to prove this!) it's going to be incredibly less likely that you'll find someone by adding this new dimension." [mobile-blog]

images.jpgInteresting. What these services seem to lack is passive locative signaling. It's one thing to be punching into your cellphone "I'm at the corner of 1st and Main St" verses your cellphone broadcasting the information to a server which controls who is able to access your information, which is much more close to a GPS service.

Cellphones likely will become the new GPS, with embedded GPS chips, and more sophisticated management of your tracklogs, geo-images, and social network. While locative technology is cool, I agree with mobile-blog's assertion that these two services are a waste of energy, because it assumes that:

  1. People are going to spend most of their time typing their location into their cellphone
  2. The rest of the time they will be trying to convince their friends to do the same

[Link from mobile-weblog]

Posted by nym at 09:20 AM | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

UK Bus Texting

2498406749551474.jpgLeicestershire county in England is trying out a keen idea that delves into texting and geolocationing.

" phone users can send a text message containing a six-digit code unique to their bus stop to a local bus company.

Within 30 seconds a text message is sent back giving the location of the bus."

This is pretty interesting as the issue of finding oneself can be pretty daunting as Chris Heathcote explained in his ETech presentation earlier this year entitled "35 Ways To Find Your Location", which touched on using bus and taxi stops as a way to help find your location since they often use similar unique identifiers. In any case I'm still bothering my phone company to stop archiving my text messages for johnny law, and start allowing their customers to figure out where they are since they already know anyways.

[Link via engadget]

Posted by nym at 02:37 PM | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

HOWTO: GeoImages

geoimages.jpgI'm currently working on a hack for an upcomming book called "Mapping Hacks" for O'Reilly Books, so this hack from Digital Photography Hacks really caught my attention. David suggests using TopoVision to create the images, but my friend Schuyler has a perl hack which links albums to GPS tracklogs as well if you're not a Windows user. In addition, Anselm and I (Tom Longson), are working on a way to streamline this process by autolinking photos to tracklogs with just a web browser. If you're interested in getting started, this article is sure to help.

[Link via anselm and engadget]

Posted by nym at 11:51 AM | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

GPS for Runners

The Associated Press has a review of the Garmin Forerunner 201 (pictured to right) and the Timex’s Bodylink System (pictured below), both wrist mounted GPS units for runners. Each unit has specialized functions for specifically for runners.

sc-VirtualPartner.jpgFor example, the Garmin allows you to run with a virtual runner on the display who runs at your specified pace. One could imagine Garmin or Timex building future units to allow Olympic runners to against AI virtual rivals to better their game based on their performance.

[Timex Bodylink System above]

The AP article says the timex tranciever is superior in GPS performance, but the Garmin comes with the ability to transfer data out of the box, and records elevation and incline information. While Timex is silly to not include something so basic as altitude, unlike the Garmin, you may have to purchase an add-on to get a heart rate monitor for $36. The Garmin comes with the ability to save running data, and software to make graphs of your performance, while the Timex needs an add-on (which comes with the data cables), for $50.

Another feature the Garmin has that the Timex doesn't software to encourage you to try new trails while giving you directions to get back, which sounds really neat to me, but the reporter says that on average the Garmin took longer to get a satellite lock, and also lost it's signal more often, especially around tall buildings.

Bottom line:
Garmin Forerunner 201: $130,
2.8 ounces, better for rural areas, better features.
Timex’s Bodylink System (with heart rate monitor): $232
~6 ounces, better for citites, expect to pay $282 to record data.

[Link via engadget]

Posted by nym at 07:41 PM | TrackBack

June 13, 2004

Father's Day

[from amazon]

Posted by nym at 02:26 AM | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Kick Ass Mapping for your Japanese Car

I think Sony's 'Navi' in car systems just got launched in Japan, but even if they haven't, the article over at Linux Devices really makes the geo-geek in me drool. These pictures appeal to my visual side, my video gaming side, and my where-the-fuck-am-i?! side.

For example:

sony_xyz_navi_bingo.jpg"The 3D mapping interface shows actual buildings, and knows street addresses, enabling it to identify destination addresses. In the picture at right, it has identified a gas station belonging to a promotional partner. Advertising for many other businesses, such as fast food outlets, appears to be built into the maps."

What really makes me wonder about this technology is the level of detail these maps seem to sport. Anyone in locative field knows how hard it can be to maintain realistic road maps, let alone map the position of safty hazzard cones. I get the feeling I need to impress upon Dave Coleman's girlfriend, Mie to interview the Navi guys.

[Link via gizmodo]

Posted by nym at 03:33 PM | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

More GPS Gadgets

8277418074117263.jpgEngadget just gave some interesting information about some GPS units which act a bit differently. These were originally spotted by the Inquirer at the Computex trade show in Taiwan this week.

BT-318...a Bluetooth GPS module from GlobalSat which has an optional GPRS modem that’ll let you get online with your PDA or laptop (as long as they have Bluetooth, too). The other is Aqik’s new GPS locator for automobiles, which comes with a built-in GSM cellphone so that if your car gets stolen all you have to do is send the locator a text message and you’ll instantly get a message back with its exact location. And since it’s also a phone you can even secretly call it up and listen in on the thieves enjoying your automobile.

[Link via engadget]

Posted by nym at 11:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2004

Barcodes and Cameraphones

Cameraphones are becoming more of a wearable device than a phone these days. A new product in this vein is SpotCode, a barcode system for pointing and clicking on various devices, such as vending machines or computers. This is done by using a cameraphone with bluetooth to relay "selections" based on barcodes on displays or signs.

Another application of cameraphones and barcodes came up during the ETech conference in San Diego. Chris Heathcote presented "35 ways to Find Your Location", which touched on using barcodes, cameraphones, and sticker printers to coat a city with locative barcodes to help people find where they are. Another use for this technology are "hidden" messages, and "barcode tagging".

[Link via engadget]

Posted by nym at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2004

Free GeoCoder

Schuyler Erle who is currently working on a Geo Hacks book for O'Reilly, has produced the first open source, completely free, geocoder, called "". This means that you can use his code and the US TIGER database to translate American addresses into a longitude and latitude.

[Link. Thanks Schuyler!]

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