Geotagging Imagery and Video

IsWHERE is a log of my thoughts, reflections, and news/blog links on the emergence of image and video geospatial tagging. On May5th this year, I opened a second blog to deal with more detailed aspects of tools for FalconView and TalonView can be found at RouteScout. Trends I want to try and follow are the various disruptions resulting from spatial smart-phones, how many GPS devices are out there, smart-cameras, and other related news. And yes, I have a business interest in all of this. My company Red Hen has been pioneering this sort of geomedia for more than a decade.

So beyond a personal blog, I also provide a link to IsWHERE a shareware tool created by Red Hen Systems to readily place geoJPEG or geotagged imagery and soon GEM full motion media kept on your own computer(s) into Google Earth/Map from your File Manager media selection. Works great for geotagged images from Nikon, Ricoh, Sony, iPHONE, Android and all geo-smartphones that can create geotagged images. IsWhere - read about it

IsWhere Free Download (XP and VISTA)


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Monday, March 31, 2008

Blue2CAN GPS and Nikon D Series Cameras

Red Hen Blue2CAN for Nikon D3 and D300 GPS cameras review
Article by Mike Barrett
March 29, 2008

Pocket GPS World

Last year Nikon announced the latest in their range of Digital SLR cameras, the D3 and D300. These are targeted at the top of the range with a price tag of £3400 for the D3 (yes that is three thousand) and a slightly more affordable £1300 for the D300.

Red Hen Systems have produced a tiny Bluetooth adapter that connects to a bluetooth GPS and transmits the GPS data to the camera: the Blue2CAN. The Blue2CAN retails at $279 USD.

Both new Nikon cameras have a special 10 pin connector which amongst other functions allows you to connect a GPS to the camera. This then provides a NMEA datastream from which the camera can extract the positional information and stamp the image meta data with the location that the picture was taken.

In the last year I have reviewed a number of GPS systems that offer a mechanism to match GPS tracks to digital photos. Whilst these do work they add an additional step into the workflow and the possibility of errors creep in with each additional step. The beauty of this system is to have the camera stamp the image when the shutter is pressed.

To get started the Blue2CAN and your Bluetooth GPS need to connect to each other. Technically this is known as pairing.

The Blue2CAN should be attached when the camera is switched off. As soon as you switch on the adapter's LED will flash 3 times within a second and will then start looking for GPS devices. If it doesn't find a Bluetooth GPS then it will go to sleep for 20 seconds and then search again. This will continue until it manages to pair with a GPS. There is little feedback during this process and it can be a little disconcerting whilst waiting for it to happen.

Once paired you need to tell the camera to record the GPS position with the image. This is achieved by pressing the menu button, selecting GPS, then "Auto meter" then select "enable".

I was amazed how simple Red Hen had made this process. The main issue with Bluetooth devices is getting them paired, for some reason it is either simple or very complex. I am fortunate enough to have over 20 different Bluetooth GPS receivers and in my tests only 3 failed to connect to the Blue2CAN. These were a Globalsat BT-359, a B-Speech GPS 20C and Evermore BT GPS receivers. I suspect that this is because they need a passcode to pair.

Another interesting feature is that even if the camera is switched off the Blue2CAN will still remain active and paired to the Bluetooth GPS receiver. This enables it to instantly have the connection when the camera is switched on, a great idea! Unless of course you use the GPS with a phone or a PDA. The GPS can only connect to one device at a time. It took me a while to work out what had gone wrong with my PDA navigation, with my camera in the boot of the car the GPS was still connected so my PDA couldn't get a connection. I overcame this by luck by switching the GPS off and on again.

Although the Blue2CAN is constantly powered whilst connected I found there was more than enough power in a charge to take hundreds of pictures over a 3 day period (some including the built in flash) and still have about 30% left in the battery.

The Red Hen Systems Blue2CAN is a Bluetooth adapter for the high end Nikon digital cameras allowing the connection of a Bluetooth GPS receiver. The compatibility of the adapter was impressive, working seamlessly with a huge range of Bluetooth GPS receivers.

The installation and setup is simple and required no technical knowledge. If you are capable of operating one of these Nikon cameras then you are well over-qualified to set up the GPS for the camera.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mommy, I want an Android!

PND increasingly loosing their future to Smartphones

Just assume that all mobiles being sold in the US currently have GPS buildt-in... and that adverstment ain't going to pay the bills... or "Mommy, the screens too small!!! I want an Android!"

SAN FRANCISCO — The rising availability of connected portable navigation devices (PNDs) and continued growth of location-based services were big topics at the GPS-Wireless 2008 conference here.

To make a point about where the market has gone in 10 years, Marc Prioleau, deCarta's vice president of marketing, held up a bulky, mid-1990s-era PCMCIA card with integrated GPS. "At Trimble, we sold about 10 of these. Now, companies like Nokia have GPS integrated into 35 million devices," he said.

Services available on the mobile phone, such as navigation, will continue to be one of the market drivers for LBS, said Doug MacMillan, Nokia director of technology insight and promotion. "It's going to be clearly about services. Right now, we have about 40 percent market share," he said. "In North America, there will be 85 percent of phones [with navigation capability]. That number is about 50 percent in Europe and 10-15 percent in Asia."

The sale of advertising around traffic information has been a $300 million-a-year business for Westwood One, said Bill Martin, the company's senior vice president for interactive traffic services. "When we expand the model into the telematics space, the automobile is one our biggest single [markets]," he said. "What doesn't help the market is some of the interfaces that most drivers see. When selecting a specific route, seeing an icon on a 2.1-inch screen isn't the best option, as it is not actionable. The interface has to allow the driver to make a decision."

My conclusion... Google's future will be in your hand with a screen just big enough...

One Billion GPS Chip Sets by 2011 - SiRFs UP?

In a report published today ABI Research forecasts one billion GPS chipsets will be shipped annually in 2013. According to ABI Research, in 2007, SiRF held a commanding 70% share of the GPS IC market. "It achieved this by getting in early and aggressively targeting the market for consumer devices: while professional GPS has been around for some time, it is a much smaller and slower-growing market segment", explains the report.

Industry analyst Jamie Moss comments, "Three factors will intersect to shape the future of the GPS IC market. The average price of the chipset will fall to $3.50 or below by the end of 2008, permitting a true mass market adoption. This past fall ASP is driven by manufacturers' goal of producing receivers that can be included in lower-margin devices such as mobile phones: handset-based GPS will be critical to strong market penetration. The benefits will filter down to more traditional GPS uses such as in-car navigation. Meanwhile, we're seeing growing numbers of acquisitions: large chip manufacturers buying up specialist fabless GPS IC vendors in order to include their technologies in solutions that combine GPS with varied wireless RF product offerings, especially Bluetooth."

ABI's interest in GPS fabricators suggests manufacturers of personal navigation devices are facing continued stiff competition and will likely seek to stand out in the market by adding speech technology, multimedia capabilities, 3D map content and other features to their products. ABI Research predicts worldwide sales of these convergence devices will surpass more than 100 million units by 2011. Examples of such acquisitions in 2007 include Global Locate, acquired by Broadcom (June); GloNav by NXP (December); and u-Nav by Atheros (December). Additionally SiRF acquired Centrality to integrate System on Chip (SoC) solutions in its product range and u-blox went public on the Swiss stock exchange.

"In terms of absolute performance," says Moss, "there's not a lot to choose between rival manufacturers. To win important contracts the chipset must be as inexpensive as possible and as easy as possible for device manufacturers to integrate with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, FM radio and cellular solutions. As it was with Bluetooth, there is no great proactive consumer demand for GPS in mobile phones today, but once it's there, people will use it and expect it."

The dominance of Mobile phones that increasingly offer GPS as a standard feature has driven SiRF to play the commodity game as new entrants erode their legacy domination of the GPS chip supply. They took a significant hit in their stock due to this increase competition. But they have an answer that could shift the opportunity back their way in a few quarters.

In February Sirf announced a new GPS chip design, the SiRFprima platform. SiRFprima is a technical jump in that it combines an industry leading GPS/Galileo location engine, powerful application processor, rich audio and video recording and playback capabilities, high-resolution 3D graphics and a host of peripheral interfaces - all tuned to operate concurrently. Playing to the smartphone manufacturers, it supports both WinCE and Linux operating system environments which suggests SiRF intends to play with Google's Android handset.

The SiRFprima platform includes an ultra-high-speed, multifunction processor comprised of an advanced ARM11 core, a high-performance location engine that supports both GPS and Galileo satellite systems and an on-chip DSP. It also includes hardware-accelerated 3D graphics and multimedia encoding and decoding engines based on the gaming-grade PowerVR MBX 3D graphics accelerator core, vertex geometry processor and PowerVR MVED1 video encode/decode accelerator from Imagination Technologies. The SiRFprima multifunction processor delivers SiRF's renowned, industry leading, GPS-enabled location performance, featuring 64 channels with -161 dBm sensitivity. The hardware scalable location engine, with more than 1,000,000 correlators, is among the first capable of working with both GPS and Galileo signals simultaneously. Additionally, the SiRFprima processor has been specifically designed to support SiRF's proprietary GPS technologies, providing, for example, a dedicated accelerator for the SiRFInstantFixII(tm) technology.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wintec's Affordable PDN - the WGS-1000

Wintec WGS-1000

Wintec Tiawan has recently added a nifty new handheld GPS device, the WGS-1000. It is the grown-up replacement to an earlier device, the WGS-100.

Brand new to Europe its March'08 release is just now getting attention. The suggest retail is around $100 euros or likely $150 US. Depending on how its functions and screen are used it has very good power longevity of up to 20 hours as a data logger. And data logging is 130,000 points/bread-crumbs large that can be set at time or distance interval logging is quite impressive. The WGS-1000 can be set at rates of up to 4 hertz. Built on a ubox chipset it has well know sensitivity as well as corrected accuracy via WAAS and EGNOS. The WGS-1000 also includes some great sensors: compass, barometer and thermometer. It can be interfaced via either Bluetooth or via a mini-USB connector that doubles as a charging port.

With included software the device's setting can be set, photos geotagged, and tracks downloaded and converted to KML for placing into Google Earth.

  • High Sensitivity Atmel / u-blox Antaris GPS chipset
  • 1 - 4 Hertz epochs setting WAAS / EGNOS
  • LCD display with easy menu structure
  • GPS Data Logger 130,000 points
  • Various screen selections:
    • Navigate, Satellite info, TrackBack, Performance
    • Lunar and Solar Sunset/Sunrise Lunar phase Display
    • TrackBack Feature with Directional "steer-to" display
  • Barometer
  • Electro Magnetic Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Bluetooth and mini-USB connection
  • Rechargeable, replaceable lithium-ion batter (BL-5C format)
  • 20 hours of continuous data logging
  • Water resistant

Wintec may have an entry-GPS winner this time around. While essentially a datalogger with a minimalist PND interface, the WGS-1000 will offer strong competition to entry solutions from Garmin like their Gekos and Colorado handhelds that cost four to five as much.