In 2011, investors gave Foursquare a value of $600 million. Unfortunately, up until now, Foursquare has failed to deliver on predictions of their success, bringing in only $2 million for sales in 2012.
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The Osaka District Court decided in favor of the police in a privacy case that raised questions about whether they have the authority without a warrant to secretly attach global positioning system (GPS) devices to the cars of suspected criminals to...
Luigi Cappel's insight:
This is an interesting case for a number of reasons and I find it all very surprising except that the Japanese seem to think about things slightly differently to Westerners.
The reason most of the world, certainly the parts I've spent time in requires a Warrant before anyone is tracked is there to protect everyone's rights. Privacy is a right if you are not committing a crime. If they are certain someone is committing a crime and obviously Police had reason they were, then they should be able follow whatever procedure is followed in Japan in order to get a Warrant, which would have to be a reasonable cause.
I would have thought that Police who follow someone would have a case thrown out and would be jeopardizing their career if they used tracking technology without official approval.
They said in their defense that it wasn't that intrusive because it is only accurate to a few hundred meters. I find that really hard to believe and can only assume that the judge and defense didn't do their homework. Even in the urban canyons of Osaka, accuracy would probably average around 10 meters. It will bounce of buildings and there will be times where the signal may move a few meters, but you would have to be using 1960's technology to have that poor accuracy and a very cheap system that didn't have any form of inertia sensors.
I suspect there was more to the decision in favor of the Police in this case and that it has nothing to do with the accuracy of the GPS tracking system. It's a shame that a story like this could give the wrong impression to people using or considering investing in GPS technology with an average accuracy of a few hundred meters. Would you hop in a Japanese driverless car that had an average awareness of it's location of a few hundred meters?
Of course you wouldn't. Do you think that the world renowned Japanese engineers are that far behind in technology that their GPS tracking systems had an accuracy of only a few hundred meters?
There is more to the story than meets the eye and I don't really care what it is. The fact is that with today's tracking technology, depending on how important it is to Police that a criminal is tracked (and hopefully legally) so that a conviction may be obtained if wrong doing is proven, then think in terms of well under 10 meters in most cases. Try for yourself with your mobile phone's GPS. I'm not talking about car navigation here which has a few extra bells and whistles to tell the map that you are probably on the road in places where the mapping is great (not used for driverless cars). I'm talking about just turning on one of the map systems that come with your mobile phone, standing outside.
Let me know how accurate it was. Note that it will not be super accurate if you are inside a building, depending on windows and the direction you are facing, but outside, reasonably well away from large glass and metal buildings, I think you will consistently find it is pretty close to accurate. I often use it when walking to meetings in cities I don't know very well, just following my dot on a map. I couldn't do that if accuracy wasn't pretty close. I rest my case your honors.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
It's pretty obvious when you think about it. As Mike says, we are not as different as we like to think we are.
Have you ever noticed when someone tries to bully your car into your space on the motorway when there is no room for them to go unless you slam on the anchors or change lanes yourself, that when you try to make eye contact with that driver, there is no way in the world that they will let you make eye contact, when you want to make a little hand gesture or say a couple of friendly words with them?
That's because they will feel guilty for their actions (some maybe not, but they know its wrong) and eye contact would force them to consider the consequences to you or even put themselves in your shoes.
Try the advice in this blog next time you want to have someone let you into the gap in front of them and let me know how it works for you. I think you could be surprised.
Authorities claim popular app Waze poses a threat to law enforcement and encourages would-be cop-killers by warning drivers when officers are nearby
Luigi Cappel's insight:
A lot of people ask me about Waze and in fact it features in no less than 6 of my blogs http://bit.ly/1EneCPy this year and it is still January.
I'll tell you why it is very unlikely that this will change given that it is one of the main reasons and most common interaction with Waze in this part of the world. People use it to tell each other where the radar cop is. If Waze was to disable this feature in New Zealand, they may as well turn the light off on the way out.
Of course in New Zealand, you can't just wander around in your shorts, with your pistol on your holster as you go into a cafe for your Flat White coffee (invented in New Zealand Starbucks!). You are welcome to own firearms, with a license, but you can't have them out in public unless you are out hunting game in an approved location. Whilst being a Police officer is a dangerous job in other pars of the world, we make it safer for them imho.
Anyway, that's the fatal flaw in this part of the world. The thing is though, whilst Waze is big and this validates my comments in previous blogs that sharing where the cop is that is going to nab you for illegally speeding (breaking the law in effect) is the main reason a lot of people use it, if they removed that capability down here, they might as well turn the lights off as they lave the country.
But what I wanted to say was that virtually all mobile apps today use location based technology and if Google were to remove this feature from Waze, some other developer, anyone from Twitter to any one of the many car navigation apps will pick it up. It's not illegal to say where a cop is parked, better the devil you know imho. Police should all have location based phones and can see where the people are saying they are on their own Waze installed apps.
I understand the safety concerns, unfortunately this isn't a solution imho. There are many other solutions available, many of which criminals will insist are an invasion of their constitutional rights. On the other hand many criminals telegraph their locations on social media and it wouldn't take much for Police to fight back by having their own applications telling them where the criminals are on the side of the road. Now there's an interesting thought. Is what's fair for the goose, far for the gander?
GPS tracking devices being developed to monitor people with dementia in care homes
Luigi Cappel's insight:
The most common problems is if people are moved out of their comfort zone, for example they already have dementia when they move into a home. They get disoriented and tell themselves that they are in a strange place. They will then often walk, or in many cases even hop in a taxi. I knew of one gentleman who hopped into a taxi 6 or 7 times over a few months and took a taxi to his old home 80 miles away!
People with dementia still know things instinctively about themselves. Give them a device that doesn't look like something they would wear like a cheap looking watch or RF bracelet and you'll be faced with that's not mine. As I have pointed out in many blogs, the RF systems are old school and rarely lead to finding a person. They require SAR teams carrying directional yagi aerials and only have a range of less an a mile.
So yes, we need low cost trackers, but as for systems inside a premises, there are so many easy solutions that have been around for years in places like hotels and hospitals. Maybe I have missed the point, this is a story and the product will sell, but it's not compelling. On the other hand there is a massive problem out there, compounded significantly by the aging of the baby boomers and I still haven't seen an effective, usable, affordable to the masses solution.
Pretty soon this will result in massive costs to care givers, police, rest homes and retirement villages, hospitals and communities because along with the growing number of aged people, the number with health problems is growing proportionally.
The Waze social mapping app and its 60,000 local, active users are making real-time traffic information available in preparation for the craziness that will ensue with the Super Bowl, Phoenix Open and Pro Bowl.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I'm not fussed about the Super Bowl, sorry, I'm an All Black fan. But I am fussed about the price of petrol, even more so now that oil prices have dropped, and while petrol prices at the pump have dropped, there are significant differences between suburbs in the price offered.
Organizations like the NZ Automobile Association have sites like Petrol Watch http://bit.ly/1BG6zMQ but it doesn't help when you are out on the road and needing gas. My trusty TomTom will tell me where the nearest gas station is, but not what their price is.
We don't have many Waze users here and most of them don't share things like petrol pricing, even though they can. Yesterday when I was out driving from the international airport back into town I noted many clusters of gas stations, in some cases 3 on one intersection, all advertising the same price, which was more than 20 cents (a liter! that's 90 cents a gallon) dearer than suburban gas stations not more than 5km away.
There were many more similar sites, which is quite normal in New Zealand, where all gas stations within a few hundred meters of each other charge the same price. I'm assuming the psychology is that (I would never suggest collusion) customers will think everyone is being charged the same price and therefore there is no point in looking elsewhere.
When I was involved in Point of Sale for the petrol industry many years ago, we tried to get petrol stations to compete with each other, for example opposite sides of the road and typically in the opposite direction to the main traffic flow (I wouldn't suggest that with the work I'm doing today!) would have a lower price.
So today, people tell each other petrol prices by texting each other, on Twitter and on Facebook. The problem with unofficial information sharing, which isn't moderated, the information could be incorrect by the time you receive it, causing more frustration. So go for it Waze, if it gets you more users, so .much the better
Imagine viewing 360° around your vehicle without having that view impeded by pillars, doors, and the roof. That's what Jaguar Land Rover is working on. In order to make this view possible, Jaguar L...
Luigi Cappel's insight:
These are very cool features. My car is high at the back and has blind spots meaning that if I change lanes I have to stretch my neck and can't rely on my mirrors to know that it is a safe manoeuvre.
The Ghost Car Navigation is an innovation that would win them a lot of fans, as long as there is a way to track any car and it has to be beyond Bluetooth range. I'm not interested in the early Volvo type scenario where you can communicate with any car, so long as it is a late model high end Volvo. There are lots of ways this can be easily done, such as with mobile apps and I am hoping they are smart enough to do that.
Of course this should be happening in mobile apps. I had Buddy Finder on my TomTom years ago, but that's not the same as navigate me to where my buddy is. That is a very cool feature and one that meets a daily need.
I haven't heard of any of the car navigation companies having done this yet. It would seem to me to be a sitter for connected devices such as TomTom and also for traffic applications like Waze.
Following people when you don't have nav and don't know where you are going is a traffic hazard. So often I have seen people (including some following me) go through a light turning red, especially in urban areas where I didn't have anywhere after the green light I went through to stop and wait for them. Then having waited, they would annoy people behind them by slowing down to let me back into the traffic so they can follow me.
Another classic that happens to me frequently is when people have different driving habits. For example the person following me to a meeting might prefer to drive much slower than the speed limit and end up dropping several cars behind me. That creates stress for both of us.
I don't see myself buying a Jaguar to get this feature (although I love the 360 vision!) so if there are any car navigation manufacturers or app developers like Waze or others, please consider adding this feature. It will bring you sales. Follow me!
Going from A to B? Whichever way you choose to travel, Chris Baraniuk discovers the hidden technologies which decide when and how you’ll get there.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
This is a really good little article that explains a little about one aspect of traffic management, which is a little understood component of optimized road networks.
One of the things it explains quite nicely is why cars appear to be deliberately slowed down, for example at motorway on-ramps, despite the fact that the motorway appears to be flowing fairly smoothly.
Traffic management is a science and an art. For every little tweak that's made, any time there is a reasonable amount of traffic, there are reactions flowing off from the network and sometimes in surprising places, because despite elements of consistency, particularly in relation to large cities, campuses or business areas during peak morning and night flows, no two days are the same. It only takes a few cars to crash or breakdown in key corridors and the ramifications are significant.
There are a host of specialist people working behind the scenes that you will probably never see, except on the odd TV show, using highly sophisticated technology, 24/7 working in a model that is known as Monitor Inform Manage and Optimize MIMO for short. Without them our cities would be a mess.
Systems are getting more sophisticated as are the vehicles that drive on the road. Intelligent Transport Systems or ITS, the Internet of Things and communication technologies are going to make our journeys more reliable and safe. The only random element, which is also a significant key to an improved network is you.
As the article says, there are all sorts of factors that interfere with smooth flow on roads. One that is a major is rubberneckers. So often there is an accident on one side of a road, but whilst it is being cleared and controlled and traffic starts flowing smoothly again, the other side of the road, traffic in the other direction has slowed dramatically and sometimes even has its own accidents, simply because everyone going past in the other direction wants to see what happened, is anyone injured, what sort of cars were they, what condition are they in, what is being done on the site and so on. This is the human aspect.
Then we get people who start behaving unusually and dangerously because they are frustrated about the situation. Never mind that a driver, or perhaps a family with children may have had to be cut of their vehicle, may have suffered serious injuries or even died. They want to get past all this so they can go and do whatever it i the traffic is holding up. These people help generate secondary incidents by doing things such as reversing up the safety strip to the last ramp, or trying to create a new lane out of the safety strip. They don't stop to consider that 1. Other people will follow them, some who don't know how to reverse, some will move across simultaneously, both of these will cause secondary accidents. Of course there is a reason for the safety strip, one of those is so that emergency vehicles can quickly get to the scene.
So, the technology is getting better and and more sophisticated, but many motorists are not. That is a much more difficult problem to deal with. Many motorists become irrational for a variety of reasons. They feel they have more rights than other motorists and then blame the system. The fact that they are tired, driving and holding a mobile phone up to their ear, focusing on the call instead of the road, aggressively speeding up to make up time for the delays they experiences. If you could spend a couple of hours seeing what people in the Traffic Operations Centers see, you might be surprised. The things you see on weekly traffic shows aren't isolated incidents that have taken years to collect, much of the same will be seen every day, even in small cities.
It's up to us as motorists and fellow citizens to recognise that its often the decisions that we make, that concatenate into unexpected consequences which we then expect someone else to clean up. It may be that drive you took to pick up your kids who got you up out of bed at 1 in the morning, that one extra drink that slowed down your reaction time when a dog ran across the road, the yellow/red light that you ran because you thought you could get away with it, or the hot coffee you were drinking that spilled scorching hot liquid on your lap. It might be the little bit of speeding you did because you had been stuck behind a horse float for 10 miles and then took off overtaking on a slight bend and 20 or 30 mph above the speed limit to let off a little frustration. Technology will make our roads safer, but wouldn't it be great if that happened together with a change in attitude from motorists rather than to try to compensate for them?
Sorry this wasn't going to be a soap box. I see so many incidents and so many people complaining about the system, who don't seem to get the point that they are the system. How about today, we all show a little courtesy on the road. Let someone in when they try to merge, if that's you flick them a wave of thank-you. Be a little patient when someone crashes there car and it causes congestion. That could be you or someone you care about one day. Don't hold your phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other when you drive. You may think you're a good driver, but when someone comes racing around the next corner on the wrong side of the road and you suddenly find yourself not seeing it until the last minute, with only one hand and one eye on the road, your driving skills may still be good, but your reactions will be slower and it could be you that ends up injured or worse. How crucial was that call and couldn't you have made it safely from the side of the road? If it wasn't important enough to do that, then maybe it wasn't important enough to crash for.
Researchers have been working on a system of virtual traffic lights positioned inside the car which could give time back to commuters.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I saw this system demonstrated on CNN last week. The HUD was nicely positioned on the windscreen and it effectively showed you the directions that were good in green and bad in red.
I liked the concept, but then I had a few concerns:
1. What will it cost to buy and how would you get a critical mass of people using it.
2. Who would pay for the installation and mobile data costs and how would that actually work? TomTom proved with their real time traffic solutions that people don't want to have to renew accounts on extra SIM's in proprietary devices.
3. The story made it clear that these are not navigation devices. This implies to me that while the devices may be able to tell you which way is busy, you still need to know how to get to your destination.
5. Why would government not simply buy data from the navigation / tracking systems that had the most users sharing their locations, direction and speed?
There may be very good answer to this and I love new technologies that can help people have better, safer journeys. I just have a few basic questions.
One thing I really do want, is an aftermarket HUD for my car nav. Whether it ends up being a Navdy or something else I don't mind, but something that is on the windscreen but doesn't obscure it as much as a PND makes a lot of sense and would appear to be a lot safer.
Anyway, if anyone has answers to my questions about the Virtual Traffic Lights, I would be most interested.
Nova Scotia's health minister says he will decide within a few weeks whether to have patients at the East Coast Forensic Hospital wear GPS tracking devices.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
We don't have forensic hospitals in New Zealand as such so I don't have an understanding of the protocols involved in tracking patients, or in this case even the legality, however I do have a strong interest in GPS Tracking.
My first thought in this instance is the device. I hope the device they are considering doesn't look like this intimidating clamp in the picture. If you have someone who is facing criminal charges, has been convicted and sent to the hospital, or simply someone with a mental illness, this looks to me like something that would add to, or give them mental health problems.
If you can come up with a more friendly looking device that is still difficult to remove illegally and is not intimidating (we're not talking about someone on house arrest here) it could be very useful. It could be a condition of special leave and more important than people absconding against legal restraints, it can help ensure the patient's safety should they find themselves disoriented, lost or in need of help.
I have done a lot of research over the years and the use of tracking devices has taken way too long to become mainstream for humans. There almost seems to be more effort put into tracking pets and jet-skis than there has into people with special needs such as dementia, diabetes and autism to name a few.
Current technology in rest homes and retirement homes for people who are likely to forget where they live is more commonly RF devices with a range of less than a mile, but require old school search and rescue techniques consisting of people walking around with directional antennas, hoping they were quick enough to assemble after a person was found to be missing and, having to start with a radius of 1 km and hoping they haven't already gone past that. Many frequent stories I have heard, has these people on a bus or in a taxi, in some cases being found going to a previous home over one hundred miles from their retirement home.
There will be arguments of devices that have to be charged every day, or that smaller devices are too easy to remove. That's fine, but we track animalshttp://bit.ly/1xtu4kB for weeks with smaller GPS devices and I get the impression that the use of these devices in a forensic hospital are in order to give people a little freedom, so they don't have to represent 21st century versions of 19th century shackles do they?
One final note and if you dig through my blog, which you can reach by following these stories if this is not how you came across this one. First 4 reasons why Sheriff Departments ankle bracelets have limits and how to fix them http://bit.ly/1sDjvzG and a deep dive into 33 Quick Stories about Tracking People with GPS if you'd like more background. http://bit.ly/1u70WoR
The key is that it's not just about the bracelets, the aesthetics and limitations of the technology, it's also about the people who will be wearing them and their needs. It's also about the monitoring software, communications and the ability for a call center or team of people monitoring the location of the devices and their relationship to the conditions of their freedom, for example setting up geofences to know when they have left the are they were allowed to be in, when the device is behaving as if it has been tampered with, when they stop working ad where they were at the time.
A small gap in the process and you can have a very expensive failure as law enforcement services have discovered all over the world. Some final advice about this technology, don't take it just from the salesman.
Travellers can pack smart phones but shouldn't count on them for directions
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I recently read an online article about 6 technologies that would become redundant and disappear in the coming years . This theme was subsequently repeated almost verbatim on CNN, in daily newspapers around the world and eventually found its way, as they do to NZ newspapers and other local media.
Examples included printed newspapers, land-line phones (i.e. a pair of copper wires carrying 50v of power that proved invaluable after the Christchurch earthquake when there was no electricity, something for Civil Defense people to think about) and one predicted the demise of portable navigation devices. I thought that was interesting because, smartphone navigation solutions have limited capability when there is no network connection. My maps of New Zealand, USA and Australia are well of a GB of data on my TomTom, which has served me admirably on my motoring travels, especially when I had no connection. I used my favorite smartphone apps as well, like Foursquare, but there were several times in rural USA where I had no mobile connection.
Some people say use printed maps as a back up, however, you may not have noticed, but the market for printed maps is drying up as very few people want them any more. In fact if you are into collecting items that will one day be relics, collect street maps.
One of the things the article that prompted me to write this blog, was niche areas such as hiking where mobile map apps often don't have local information is very pertinent. Waze only recently caught up with local streets around where my 20 year old house is and when it comes to tracks and trails, often it is only specialist services and government who bother to track places of interest. There are many apps for these and I think the key here is not about mobile connectivity, but rather the commitment of an app or service to the specific field of interest or geographic market.
I New Zealand there is one mapping company devoted to driving every road in the country, maintaining every speed zone, school zone, road maintenance, traffic information, turn restrictions etc and that is TomTom, having purchased the NZ Automobile Subsidiary GeoSmart a year or so ago. They were the principle producer of cartographic maps, tourism maps, car navigation maps and specialist data for location based analysis, real time and historic traffic data and much more. Other brands associated with map data were very good when it comes to large urban centers (although not up to date as quickly) but not so good when it comes to smaller towns that are in fact changing and growing quickly as urban sprawl and a greying population looks for better lifestyle, which many people are finding when they buy cheap navigation products on price or rely on free apps.
In a city, many say near enough is good enough (until they drive around a one-way system a few times and keep missing the spot where they need to get off).
The other area that is a hot topic to me is traffic congestion. Traffic congestion definitions start when more than one vehicle enters a road or carriageway. Many systems I have used don't have a database or at least an up to date database of traffic management systems. I.e. they don't know if there are intersection controls and whether they are lights, roundabouts (rotators), controlled or uncontrolled intersections, They therefore often falsely interpret a few cars stationary at a red traffic light as congestion when it is normal for that location.
I will write more on travel times, real and estimated in an upcoming blog, to help explain how they work, because they are fluid and not a fixed point in time. There is also the question of accuracy, which is also subjective and can cause stress to people relying on them to get to a location such as an airport on time. A recent story in Queenstown, NZ, popular with the rich and famous; and the rest of us, where Google was asked to change their travel times https://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/25928338/travel-times-readjusted-on-google-maps/ illustrates this.
What is a bigger problem if you are looking at real time travel times, that rely not only on connectivity to receive them, but also on a critical mass of the right type of vehicles or travelers providing the data, and the ability to analyze these quickly is illustrated when we look at traffic events on major highways in remote areas. Services like live traffic information Google are often very good in major urban areas, but sometimes all but impossible to find any information at all outside of the cities, even on major state highways.
Bottom line, there is no one size fits all. You need to understand your reasons for using these services and don't just apply one business case to it. Then look for the best fit for that purpose/purposes. It may be multiple devices. Don't just trust a big brand name or buy on price if the cost of getting it wrong is more than the difference between cheap and quality. Don't assume that because the brand name is big and well respected that it is the best in everything it does.
If in doubt, ask people, ask an expert. There is a corollary that is well known in the software and consumer goods industries and that is people will often defend a poor purchase, or poor product once they have made an investment. They don't want to look stupid. If you want to buy an SUV to go offroading, will you ask someone who has a four wheel drive that has never been off the road?
The West Coast port slowdown is giving retailers a big headache, and, in some cases, costing them big bucks.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
Imagine if McDonald's couldn't serve you french fries, or you couldn't get bread at your local grocer, or ink for your printer, all those little things that you take for granted you don't need to stock, because the retailer will always have it for you.
Have you ever been to a retailer to buy something and find that it's out of stock? There are two reasons for this. One is the person managing the inventory wasn't watching their stock turn, or demand. Another is seasonal or promotional activity that placed more demand on a product that required more stock than normal, for example a sudden heat wave would result in greater demand for ice cream and cold drinks.
Over the last 30 years with the benefit of EDI and other technologies that have created a manufacturing and delivery chain where there is information and risk sharing between growth and manufacturing, freight and distribution and the retail point of sale data, we have developed into a JIT or Just in Time economy. Everything has become finely tuned and when things are going well, this reduces costs at each level of the value chain. When things go wrong that can cause chaos very quickly, especially in small or niche markets.
Here are a few examples:
1. McDonalds had problems with potatoes for their fries in Venezuela not turning up in time due to a labour dispute at west Coast ports in the USA. They only carry enough potatoes to meet a short period of time, in order to meet their commitments to fresh product.
2. A supermarket chain in Australia buys bananas from the farm cooperative in Equador before they are even picked. A freight hold up of a week means the produce ripens to soon by the time it gets to the supermarket and they have to throw away product by the container-load.
3. A car manufacturer has 10,000 cars in production that can't leave the factory because a maintenance survey in a factory in Indonesia discovered a fault in the factory and subsequently had insufficient components to produce a component for the in-car entertainment system, halting production of a whole batch of cars in Japan. Because these contracts were let out 2 years in advance, there was no quick solution to replace them.
4. A slip on a New Zealand road took 3 days to repair and as a consequence a lettuce manufacturer could not get their produce to a fast food retail chain in time and the alternate route was not suitable for the large refrigerated trucks to drive though.
5. A brand new large supermarket couldn't open because a container of receipt paper was incorrectly marked at a wharf in SIngapore and this wasn't noticed as being missing in the testing of the new POS Scanning System in the store, meaning it was too late to find an alternative short term supplier for the first day of the official launch, with queues of customers and dignitaries waiting to go.
Almost everything we do today is based on Just In Time. When it goes well, we benefit at all levels of the value chain in productivity, freshness and quality of product, negotiations and relationships between business partners, optimized freight management, optimized road networks and much more. However when one component of this value chain breaks down, the impact is major.
The results of those little chinks, traffic congestion, a labor strike, a software glitch, above average demand for a product and our delicate balance can tip and next thing you know there are significant ramifications to business and consumers. The costs of getting it right are significant. Perhaps sometimes our drive for perfection can also be our Achilles heal.
Germany’s Daimler wants to reset consumers’ expectations about self-driving cars with its futuristic Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept...
Luigi Cappel's insight:
One day I want you to remember my blog, because you read it here before a car brand did the marketing using my words. "Better than your lounge".
This is an example of the sort of ideas that came from 1960's and '70's science fiction books. You descend into your conversation pit (the cabin in your car), have a few drinks, listen to some amazing quality digital surround music, enjoy each others' company and then open the door and arrive at the theater.
After the show, you recline back into your lounge, have another drink and discuss the show, while the video display revisits the experience you are talking about."Did you see the part where he did that thing?"
It's a balmy night, so you hop out of the car and stroll along a beach which is on the way home, for a breath of fresh air. When you return to the car, it has prerecorded the relaxing ambient sounds of the beach you just left, accompanying you from outside. You see the same stars through the tinted transparent roof and get a glimpse of an almost full moon peeping through the trees before the car parks itself inside your home, while you finish a coffee that you would swear was brewed by a skilled barrista.
Whilst it seems like teleportation without your body being disassembled into it's atomic elements and reassembled at each location, it is simply the car of the future which drives and parks itself safely and has the latest in entertainment technology to keep you enthralled while it navigates you smoothly to each destination in luxury and comfort.
It is just like something out of a science fiction movie, where instead of virtually reality, it brings you to each new reality with no fuss, safely, quietly and probably expensively, which will make it even more desirable to those who can afford it.
The coolest part of all is that this technology is being built in concept cars today and will be available to rent or own in the very near future. All I ask (not that I'm likely to ever own one) is that I can also enjoy driving the vehicle (because I enjoy being behind the wheel) when I want to.
[UPDATED] Smart, connected cars are a major trend of this year's Consumer Electronics Show. What products and players are noteworthy for their contributions?
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I have to say I envy the journalists who get to go to CES. I used to get to Comdex and check out new business technologies, which was really exciting, but my colleagues who went to CES probably had more fun playing with the new consumer electronics.
So what's new in the area of the connected car. Have a travel through these 12 concepts. The main thing is that the geeks amongst us have been trialling all sorts of new technologies and tomorrows car, courtesy of the Internet of Things IoT, advances in location based services LBS and Infotainment, brings them all together through the capabilities of in-car communications and external telecommunications.
Whilst many (including myself) have concerns about distracted driving, car manufacturers are working on that too and CES introduces the Pilot, much like the concept of autopilot on an aircraft. Driving on the freeway or country roads, you might use the self driving car, but when you get into a built up area, the driver is alerted and control is given back for more complex urban driving.
So ultimately (and hopefully holding back the reigns on proprietary technologies (like the VW Golf that came out with an iPhone 4 adapter) we get car navigation, hazard detection, self parking, finding a park, finding where you parked when you want to get back to your car, remote start (for climate control and just for fun), bonding you car to your phone (including the option of selecting the mobile OS), mCommerce (should that now be dubbed motor commerce), cameras recording behind you and in front of you for safety and to remember your trip and so much more.
This is a natural progression which leads to a car that you not only get into to enjoy driving (sorry Public Transport, you need to learn from this because man's love affair with the car will not be going away any time soon due to these enhancements), but your car knows who you are, what your needs are and of course how to get to where you want to go.
Cities across the country are increasingly making snowplow-tracking data public in free mobile apps.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
Transparent Government is a wonderful thing, but the interesting thing about it is that it does show up the weaknesses in people, technology and systems.
Too often it is about, let's buy a piece of technology that will solve the problem. They aren't wrong, technology will solve problems. But technology such as GPS also requires people with skills and a willingness to commit to the additional aspects of the technology. This may be a storm in a Boston teacup, but the facts are, any GPS system will produce reports and those reports are a great benefit, as long as they are used. So operational management need resources to monitor that the changes this technology was invested in to support are in fact invoked.
I can't make any judgements on this particular story but it is very similar to many stories I have written about GPS technologies, for example the stories about people who are on home detention with GPS ankle bracelets. They remove them and go and commit crimes and no one is monitoring the fact that an alarm has gone off as a consequence. People who have constraints on where they can go and no one monitors the fact that they are outside of the geofence or in too close a perimeter of the person they are not allowed to associate with.
Then the technology gets blamed. I love location based technology and transparent Government. One way or another it forces us to make change for the common good. Pushing the change through to teams without considering on-boarding, training, workload and setting up processes with the resources to implement and manage them, can push people to ignore the technology and revert to the past practices re-exposing the gaps they were designed to plug.
No doubt this is an embarrassing situation for the people who suggested this technology, because customers are complaining that the job the system says was done, possibly wasn't. However, in reality it's done exactly what it was needed for. Now citizens are monitoring the performance of the commitments made by the Government and helping them to fine tune their systems, for free. The service will improve and they will all live happy ever after.
To me this is a success story, bringing citizens and Government closer together to get things done.
Beidou is China's independently developed global navigation satellite system. Its name means the Big Dipper. And the system is ready for more applications on the civilian markets, especially for automobiles.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
We have been waiting for someone to make a step in producing higher quality GPS tracking and also to bring the price way down. It looks like this Chines company is heading in the right direction, with its GPS chip price coming down to US$5. That has to mean that combined with mass produce in car telemetry systems, including the price of inertia and other sensors that we get another step to much safer cars.
In the interview they say that along with base stations (now there's a bit of a catch, but I think that is an element that national Governments need to work out for the common good). Our current GPS systems such as on your mobile or portable navigation device, have a range of around 10 meters unless a lot of additional technology is used (gyros and inertia sensors are also coming down in price). We also still have issues with urban canyons, natural canyons and interference from local conditions.
The say in this interview that they can track a vehicle to its correct lane. Now that is something to aspire too, especially for vehicle safety and if the price is right. Of course as per several of my recent blogs, being able to place you in a lane means that the geospatial base is also accurate.
If the map data is 10 meters out (not uncommon) but the GPS is accurate, the nav system on your self driven or driverless car, could be telling you to drive up the wrong side of the freeway. There is more to this story than a great satellite network and accurate, low cost GPS.
Cell phone GPS tracking isn't illegal. In fact, you can see where everyone is just by knowing their number here >> http://t.co/BIlkAldhd7
Luigi Cappel's insight:
When I first saw this article, I thought "I'm not going to tell other people how to spy on each other!" But it's really not like that. Mobiles are worth a lot of money, so one of the first things, which I have blogged about before, is you must have a copy of Where's my Phone or similar on your phone. Whether it is stolen or you left it in a taxi, at work, on the roof of your car, you can get it back.
Stealth Genie is interesting because if your phone was stolen, AND they managed to figure out your pin code or password, think perhaps your teenage children, you can hide your tracking app so that they can't find you.
Finally, one of my children is an intrepid traveler. She has just returned from her latest trip where she has been flooded out and left with nowhere to stay due to the typhoon that resulted in the Air Asia crash, she traveled to a variety of countries and cities from the Philippines to the jungles of Borneo.
In 75% of the places she went, there was mobile coverage. In some of these places, traveling alone, even in taxis or on buses, can be a matter of putting your life and safety into other people's hands. In fact exactly what she did when a resort she was planning on staying in was totally underwater only hours after she checked in. The vehicle that was supposed to take her to an assembly point broke down on the way and she had to shelter for a night on a concrete floor with strangers and then another night with a relative of the resort owner.
The story goes on, but the key is that we were concerned for her safety and just knowing where she was at times, would have eased our minds ad knowing she could have been located if something did happen would have been worth while.
So the concept of tracking phones becomes less sinister and something (with the permission of the person/people being tracked, which could even be me on overseas trips) that helps with personal safety and tracking your mobile if you leave it behind or it gets stolen, is a good thing.
RideOn is set to take on the likes of Recon and Oakley with a pair of augmented reality goggles designed for tech-loving ski and snowboard enthusiasts.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I'm not sure if this would provide the features that I particularly want (yet) or would have wanted when I was a hard out skier, but it's great to see these specialty products coming out as Google Glasses go into hibernation or somewhere else entirely.
As I skier the key things I didn't see in the short video were, things like where is the track. I've been in some serious white out conditions on Whakapapa before where I had no idea whether I was even moving at times, or exactly where I was. In a white out things go quiet. You can't see the ground, you can't see other people and all the noise on a busy ski-field goes quiet.
So I want to know where the tracks are, what grades they are, especially now that I am no longer fit. I want to know how fast I'm going and it would be great to be able to track my friends. I'd like to know how long the queues are for the lifts and I'd love to video record my runs. I'm not into chatting with people on social media on the ski-field, that's what apres ski is for, I want to experience each mogul and each turn, and but knowing where my friends on the piste are is great.
If ski-fields embrace this technology the way golf courses have embraced GPS, then the cool set will have products that do the things that this video shows and the serious skiers will also buy a product, but it will have serious features on it.
With the games though, it would be great to be able to grade skiers on the slopes based on their expertise. Don't worry about this guy, he will race past you and knows exactly what he is doing, on the other hand this snowboarder is a novice and could be heading to the bottom on a banana boat and you don't want to be on the one next to his!
Pittsburgh has deployed GPS units to allow residents to track where plow trucks have been. But simply monitoring public works vehicle movements is only a partial solution.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
Of itself, this doesn't look like a big story, especially given that the most important part that answers the question "Where's my plow?" hasn't yet been completed. But they fact that they are going to offer that is awesome. I imagine in a cold winter and many parts of North America and Europe have had one so far this winter, this information could have a huge impact on how they travel.
I have many memories of walking or sliding my bike to school on snow filled roads and cars pointing in all the wrong directions when they tried to drive before the road was made ready for them.
The bigger story to me is about Government sharing data with their citizens and through the advent of Google Maps, maps on mobiles, mobile applications, people are sharing data amongst each other and when it comes to what Government services are, or aren't doing is often subjective. One of the problems we have with crowd sourced data sharing is currency. the DOT might send out a twitter message about a crash on a freeway and it gets retweeted by other people. That's great when it's current, but not when the incident has been cleared 2 hours earlier and road users are making decisions without going back to the official source.
If a snow plow is seen to be working on a particular street and residents all start telling each other, perhaps because the know the usual route, that it will be ok to drive, but the plow is taken to another location where the problem is worse, the crowd sourced data can end up being wrong. So the concept of an official map based site and hopefully it is responsive, i.e. works on mobile devices such as phones and tablets, we have a powerful solution that will save a lot of time and money, including for call centers and people trying to plan their day.
The same could apply to so many services. Where are the road maintenance crews working, where are the rubbish trucks, recycles, street cleaners etc. working? Where is the school bus (or any public transport for that matter. You may not agree with Uber, but they provide a lot more information that most of the taxi companies who are righteous about their disapproval. The list goes on and this sort of positive information sharing is something that everyone should be using, starting with any business units that already have GPS tracking in them (where appropriate of course).
In the field of travel information, research has shown that customers are appreciative and their behaviors much more reasonable, when they know for example that the reason they are stuck in a serious traffic jam because up ahead someone has had a serious injury and the road has been closed to make the victims, witnesses, emergency and road maintenance crews and then restore the road conditions to normal. In many cases they then have choices such as delay their journey, look for an alternative route, or proceed with caution.
I wonder how many calls a day are made to call centers to ask "where is my plow?", "where is the rubbish truck?", "where is Johnny because the bus was due at the end of my drive 15 minutes ago?" I wonder how many of these calls could be saved, with mapping solutions that have all the information you need. I can't imagine why Government isn't rushing into these, because pretty much every installation that is done properly, looking at all the value uses, not just monitoring the manner in which a vehicle is driven, or telling the fleet operations manager where is, would have a return on investment of months rather than years, not to mention that it is always good to have happy customers.
GPS Real Time Tracking by Spy Matrix Micro GPS Tracker http://t.co/G4QCd9wS4o
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I don't usually promote products and I can't tell you if this product is good or not. What I do know, with 2 family members into competitive cycling, is that the bikes are very expensive and as a percentage of the value of the bikes, the fact that they are many of their parts are imported, $88 is a pittance to protect their investment. I don't know how many 10's thousands of bikes get stolen every year, but if I had a bike that was worth many hundreds or thousands of dollars, it would have a GPS tracker on it.
Like most people, I didn't know how cheap they are today. Now I do...
A new software system developed at the University of Michigan uses video game technology to help solve one of the most daunting hurdles facing self-driving and automated cars—the high cost of the laser scanners they use to determine their location.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I picked up on an interesting comment in the story about systems for self driving cars. Fundamentally it said, you cannot have a self driving car go where there is no map.
I have driven with car navigation systems that have low cost maps that are out of date, spatially inaccurate and don't have things (as I've said before) such as speed zones. They also often don't have information such as unpaved roads. I wonder how a driver-less car would know that you didn't want to drive on dirt roads and therefore know where they are.
Updates would be crucially important. In my area they have just made some major changes such as moving the location of motorway on-ramps by a half mile or so. I wonder how a driver-less car with an old map would deal with that. Most people have maps that are out of date, after all change happens every day, it is hard for the best staffed and most conscientious mapping companies to stay in touch, especially when in between driving, they rely on central and local government to tell them of proposed and then completed changes.
I expect most driver-less cars to alert the driver of there is something outside that is different from what is displayed. I see lots of situations where it may not know how to interpret what is inconsistent with a map and suspect an appropriate solution would be something like the LIDAR Orthophotography systems mapping companies use.
So imagine this situation. An off-ramp has been moved as part of a road reconstruction process. You have a system which has map data that doesn't show it. True situation I drove past frequently. There is a sign on the side of the highway saying the ramp has been moved, the new ramp is half a mile closer to you than it used to be. The original gantry sign is still showing the ramp to be where it used to be and the car map dataset still shows the ramp where it used to be. So two of the inputs show the existing ramp to be in the old location and it isn't there. It may be that there are cameras that at 60 miles an hour can see the ramp, but it could also be an access road for the construction crew.
The computer decides to tell the human passengers that there is some inconsistency. Oh dear, this is one of those new driverless Mercedes where the front seats turn around so that the front passengers can turn around and chat to the rear passengers, that great feature that they have been raving about.
I'll leave you to play out the scenarios. The safest one is that probably the car drives past the ramp for 4 miles, gets off at the next one, goes back on the highway another 3 miles to the ramp on the other side. The less safe ones are not so nice and could end quite differently.
One quick note that in fact prompted me to write this blog is that in traditional OEM car navigation systems there are 2 main areas where the cost goes up.
1. Each camp in the value chain gets a margin and margins on options are typically 'parts' margins which are many times higher than standard items in the car, where they try to keep the price of the drive away car low for competitive reasons. So the factory gets a margin when the nav is installed, international marketing gets a margin when it is shipped. The national office gets a margin when the car arrives and then the dealership obviously gets a margin as well for selling the extra feature. At parts rates, the nav system will frequently end up costing at least 4 times what the manufacturer received.
2. The maps. So many people discount the importance of up to date maps. Think about the cheap car navigation system (or even the top of the range system you own) and how often it is out of date. There are lots of reasons why this happens. One of the biggest is that navigation system manufacturers over the years have put a massive squeeze on the price they are prepared to pay for car navigation quality maps. In theory the argument was that it would be compensated for in volume sales, but often that hasn't been the case. Ultimately that means that quality and currency suffer. You can't build quality products on peanuts. That's not a major when an intelligent human is driving, who can interpret the instructions when what they see is not the same as what's in the map data.
So when you look at these cool ideas of turning the driver to face the back of the car and then expect them to react to an anomaly on the road ahead as they sip their coffee (I'm sure the driver of a driverless car will still not be able to consume alcohol, think about how safe it is to be able to go everywhere you currently drive.
Then think about how many errors there are in the car navigation map data with the system you are driving in. Also keep in mind that the data in the really expensive top of the range car nav system, is the same data that's in the portable device, the difference is in the high tech gyroscopes, inertia sensors, cameras (not yet), wiring looms, interface to the ODBC2 port for data and so on, don't think you are paying for a more sophisticated map.
This new system with cameras, based on gaming systems may improve on the scenarios I have described here. It is however complex, Many maps are quite accurate in urban areas, but things happen. A one way street is flipped in the opposite direction, ramps move, lanes are closed for maintenance, contra-flows are put on one way streets, all sorts of things happen every day. So tomorrow when you drive to work, use your navigation system and note everything you do that is different to what the map tells you and the think about being in a car that has to make those decisions.
Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of a driverless car. It is already proven in controlled situations, for example in one of my blogs you can read about mines in Western Australia, where trucks are controlled by an operator hundreds of miles away and it works fine, But it is in a controlled situation.
We have a little way to go, methinks.
A burglar who volunteered to wear a tag but "carried on offending" was unaware of how precisely his movements could be followed, police say.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
After my blog yesterday about GPS bracelets being considered for a forensic hospital yesterday http://bit.ly/1CgN1eE it was great to read this story about a burglar who volunteered to wear a GPS tag and then continued to commit crimes, which he tried to deny, resulting in a 2 year prison sentence.
This introduces a new gap, which is that he appears not to have understood the implications of the technology. I'm not sure that it would have made any difference in this case or not. I would suggest that part of the process, assuming that the criminal has a mental age of a teenager at least, that part of the process should be showing them examples of cases like this and exactly how they can track people an what happens when they tamper with the device. That's assuming the goal is to reduce crime by encouraging criminals to accept the quid pro quo of not committing crimes in return for not having to go to jail. If the criminal does not understand the simple concept that they can't get away with it and it is a privilege for them to get a second chance, then they should simply save us the grief of the additional crimes and consequences and use other methods to reduce the likelihood of them committing more crimes. IMHO
Traffeek allows people to create live traffic reports while they are on the move
Luigi Cappel's insight:
It's always good to see people coming up with new apps and in New Zealand the NZ Transport Agency is trying to encourage developers to come up with new solutions and I'm interested to see where this goes with both my NZTA and my SoLoMo hats on.The following statements are my personal opinions only.
The obvious questions were asked straight away in this story, which are:
1. It is illegal to use your mobile while driving and could cause an accident. The same applies with TomTom, Waze or any other device. If you were to have an accident while entering data on your mobile or your car navigation unit, you could be charged with some form of dangerous driving while distracted.
It isn't illegal to tick a box, for example when my TomTom PND (dedicated Portable Navigation Device) finds a quicker route and asks me if I want to change to it. But again if I started doing some serious data entry, for example sending a correction through to TomTom, saying the road they sent me up is now blocked off, or has a turn restriction on it, and I had an accident, I'm sure I would risk prosecution. If I didn't have an accident and my driving behaviour remained safe and within the law, I suspect that I wouldn't be breaking any laws.
I suspect if I was ticking a box on a car navigation application on my mobile and had an accident and a zealous Police Officer wanted to charge me, it would make an interesting test case. If I was distracted and had an accident, it would be no different to changing the station on my car stereo.
However, if I was entering an incident into an app on my iPhone, even if it was the TomTom car navigation app that would be legal to use on a PND, it may well be that this would fall under the laws pertaining to using a phone. This becomes quite interesting if you consider this in relation to the blog I wrote yesterday http://solomoconsulting.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/smart-phones-not-the-end-all-for-travellers-clearwater-times/ where it was being postulated by some that Smartphones will replace dedicated car navigation devices. If one is legal to use while driving and the other isn't (depending on circumstances) then maybe this is another argument to stick with my TomTom device. With a smartphone it is very hard to prove which app you were using unless you had an app which disabled the functions of the phone, e.g. making it not possible to send a TXT message while driving.
2. There are already applications like WAZE which allow you to be warned of incidents ahead (down here it is mostly used to warn people that there is a cop with a radar ahead, which I'm not that excited about, because I'd rather people weren't speeding). Given they already exist, I'm interested to know why Traffeek recreated the wheel. Do they have features that Waze doesn't have?
One of the frustrations I have with Waze is that it really encourages crowd-sourced participation and pretty much any time there is something happening where I would need to participate, for example reporting an incident, confirming an incident still exists, correcting the location of an incident, you are in a position where you can't safely, or it is illegal to stop the car. I believe this is why many incidents are reported in the incorrect location, because they show the location where the incident was reported, i.e. the location where the car was when you could finally report it.
So if Traffeek has been developed because they feel they can do a better job, fantastic. I'm keen to understand how they can manage the inherent problems with the existing systems, other than through a call centre or some form of hands-free control.
These are not criticisms, but genuine questions as I am working with a number of other organizations who also have or wish to develop mobile apps around helping road users avoid incidents, events and congestion, safely.
I'm keen on any and all feedback.
Reed College is now using bikes that are equipped with GPS tracking devices to combat thefts.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
It's pretty frustrating when we are trying to get people out of cars and onto environmentally friendly transport modes, particularly bicycles, when the bikes end up getting stolen, especially from people who may be on low incomes and don't have insurance.
Bike thieves know how to cut cables and the bikes can disappear in seconds flat. They are probably an easy sell, compared to iPhones or other items of value, particularly devices that are traceable.
As you know, I love stories about GPS devices being used to track stolen items and this one is producing great results in Portland where they are parking bait bikes on campus, just waiting for someone to come and take them. Not only does it reduce bike theft, but it also catches thieves and will make them think twice about committing that crime again.
Tracking devices are becoming extremely cheap and come in all sorts of varieties. Some are especially made for a particular device, but in many cases people simply use what they have. For example, that first smartphone you bought that no one wants to take off your hands, is perfect. Wire it into your car with a prepaid SIM and hide it somewhere in the car, with software such as Where's My iPhone installed and you have a security solution. If you can afford a solution that already has GPS in it great, but if you can't there are alternatives you can use.
I read stories like this often and a lot of these thieves are very busy people and when the Police arrive to locate your missing bike, the likelihood is that they will find more items of stolen property as well as illegal drugs and other items such as weapons.
The only footnote I would add is that it is always better to leave the chase and apprehension of the thief to the Police. They know how to deal with these situations, be smart but leave the next part to a professional.
Dutch traffic control will use a mobile app to control traffic flows and keep things moving on Amsterdam's busy roads
Luigi Cappel's insight:
I will watch this one with interest. It sounds very top heavy and I am interested in the level of automation it offers. I'm hoping it is multimodal because Amsterdam has excellent train, tram and bus services. It is interesting that it doesn't provide navigation and assumes that you know your way around.
It's also interesting that they offer people choices expecting that some people will select a slightly slower route to the benefit of others. Maybe the Dutch will do that, being the socially conscious people they are. I can't see citizens near me doing that in numbers that would make an iota of difference.
One feature I do like is the ability for the motorist to send an audio message to report incidents, like live stock on the road, which transmits to the Traffic Operations Center together with the GPS coordinates. On the other hand this sounds like a very expensive solution, if not in development then in the people at the TOC, to deal with management of systems supporting and impacted by this. It sounds simple, but optimization of networks is a complex affair involving things like management of times on traffic signals and motorway ramps, managing implications of accidents, incidents and road maintenance. It would require a lot of modeling and management in the background and moat TOC's are flat out in reactive mode already.
A solution like this would be highly complex, but I'd love to see it in operation. Maybe I can get a quick tour of the system next time I'm in Amsterdam.
Ever wonder where the next startup boom might happen around the globe? A close look at StartupBlink might be of help. The site features a world map of startups, accelerator programs, coworking spaces and more.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
This is awesome, not just because it is on a map:) There are so many start-ups around the world an knowing just how many there are in New Zealand, StartupBlink has a way to go in order to capture a larger group of them, but this will happen as people get their heads around the value of his site.
There are loads of start-ups in particular niches who could be collaborating with each other, where they are covering similar ground, for example those working on transport solutions like carpooling, tourism solutions, augmented reality, mobile apps.
One of the things I like about this service is that it recognizes that there are many elements to a start up and many people they need on-board or to be associated with. It might be they need a maven, a marketing/sales guru, funding, they may need established businesses that have the problems that the start-up is trying to solve to be their first clients, or perhaps to join their advisory boards.
So as a broad-brush look, what do I like about this site (which I will explore in much more detail to see if there are associations I want to develop)?
1. It is on s map and you can find businesses based on proximity. Are you looking for a business, skills or people near somewhere you are going, people you want to meet. A map i much easier to use than a table.
2. You can search by category, such as start-ups, influencers, freelancers, jobs.
3. You can look by industry segment or focus, for example 3D Printing, Alternative Medicine, Big Data, Health Care Information Technology, Travel & Tourism as well as many more niche categories.
4. Blinks. I'm still getting my head around this, but it seems that blinks can be announcements, but can also be comments. You can vote, comment or share information including via social media.
When I have time, I'm going to explore this concept further. I may well find start-ups working and developing leading edge solutions in areas where I can use help, or it may be that I just get excited about some of the solutions and blog about them, to help others find them.
Last note, from my first look around. I don't know what their business model is, but it is free to register, so if you are a budding entrepreneur, in a start-up and looking for people or opportunities, why don't you have a look as well and lets see what comes out of a deeper look at http://startupblink.com/.