Electricpig » Satnav & GPS http://www.electricpig.co.uk The only tech you need Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:13:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Electric, hybrid and driverless cars: The future according to Mazda http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/21/electric-hybrid-and-driverless-cars-the-future-according-to-mazda/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/21/electric-hybrid-and-driverless-cars-the-future-according-to-mazda/#comments Mon, 21 May 2012 16:12:56 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=268693

Gearing up to plug your next car into the mains at night? Not so fast. While the race is on to produce the best in electric motoring, or at the very least to offer competent hybrid options, there is one manufacturer who’s thinking differently. Electricpig’s spent a couple of days in the Scottish highlands with the new Mazda CX-5, and we’ve been talking about the real future of driving. Think you know what’s coming? You might want to buckle up…

The Mazda CX-5is the first in a completely new generation of cars from the Japanese giant. How so? It’s the first to feature what Mazda’s calling SkyActiv – brand new engine and transmission technology that aims to reinvent the way we think about the humble petrol engine, and to get it completely right before moving onto anything new.

Hybrid, schmybrid

“As the base power unit, the internal combustion engine will continue on,” says Mazda’s PR Director Graeme Fudge. “We’re not saying that hybrid and electric aren’t for us. They are, and they’re technologies that we’re developing, but we don’t believe that the time is now that we need to be bringing these to market.”

That’s a bold way of looking at things. Right now, almost every major car manufacturer is working on perfecting both hybrid engines – that switch between petrol and electric power – and full-on electric vehicles. Mazda has the Mazda 2, but that’s Japan-only, and isn’t even for sale. But Fudge insists that everyone else has got it wrong.

Hybrids are built on inefficient petrol engines,” he says. “We need to develop the base technology first to make it as clean and as efficient as possible before then putting them in hybrid systems.” And that’s the role of SkyActiv: an engine made from lighter materials and smaller dimensions. The result in the CX-5 is 30 percent less engine friction, 10 percent less weight and 15 percent less fuel consumption than SUVs in the same class.

According to research by automotive analyst R.L. Polk, “two thirds of hybrid car owners will not buy another hybrid.” Fair enough reasoning for this alternative focus, then, but what about electric? “Electric is getting a lot of negative press,” says Fudge. “People aren’t just talking about range anxiety, charging times etcetera, but also, what is the cost of electric cars and CO2 for the factories? A lot of commentators are saying: ‘Maybe electric isn’t the answer we were all looking for at the moment.’ We do have the tech to do this, we just don’t think the time is right to produce these vehicles in large scale numbers.”

London to Edinburgh: The electric challenge

Fudge says that the CX-5 and its SkyActiv tech are part of a longer-term plan – that all Mazdas from now on will be built around the new concept, and that the general plan is to get to a point where hybrids will become mainstream once the traditional engine has evolved as much as it can.

The logic seems sound and car drives well, but SkyActiv isn’t the start and end of the tech that’s going to drive tomorrow’s cars…

Driverless future

On top of a reworked engine, the CX-5 boasts ‘Smart City Break Assist’ – an intelligent aid that automatically slams on the brakes if the car’s sensors detect that you’re about to smash into something. Stopping distances vary with the speed you’re travelling at, but at anything at or under 20mph, the system aims to prevent you from hitting the car in front without you having to do anything.

That smart technology got us thinking about Google’s driverless cars, which have been gaining a lot of attention thanks to their immense, flawless track record and recent approval to hit the roads of Nevada in the US:

“Every manufacturer has driverless cars, and is testing that technology,” says Fudge. Does that mean Mazda, too? Of course it does.

Google’s driverless cars cleared in Nevada

“If I could have a car where I could get into it in the morning, press a button and have it drive me to work while I sleep in the back, that would be the ideal.” We’d have to agree, there. Although, as Fudge himself puts it: “People will always want the choice.”

The Mazda CX-5 has been designed to be fun to drive, because, no matter how clever driverless cars become, people will still want to drive themselves from time to time. If we can have that choice, and have it with some serious fuel efficiency, then that’s your best bet for a car of tomorrow. Will all that come from Mazda? At least we know it’s working on it.

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So Nintendo won’t do mobile but it will do cars? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/17/so-nintendo-wont-do-mobile-but-it-will-do-cars/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/17/so-nintendo-wont-do-mobile-but-it-will-do-cars/#comments Thu, 17 May 2012 09:24:05 +0000 Ben Sillis http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=267008

The ageing Nintendo DS got an unexpected new feature in Japan this week courtesy of auto-maker Toyota: satnav. The deal allows drivers and passengers to pair up a Nintendo DS with their car’s navigation system, and have it act as a second screen. Is this really the solution for Nintendo’s current woes?

Kuruma de DS for the Nintendo DS lets you use Nintendo’s old handheld to add destinations, check out the map and explore landmarks, connecting via Bluetooth to new Toyota models’ dashboard navigation systems. It can also be used to pipe sound from the DS to the car’s stereo systems and see your speed. With added Nintendo Mii characters.

The Nintendo DS navigation solution doesn’t come cheap though, at ¥7,329 or £57, and the Smart Navi system itself costs as much as ¥206,850 (£1,600). Which begs the question, why bother?

The Wii’s TV talents are going to waste

Unlike Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo’s always been a games company first and foremost. We’ve reported on how this focus has thwarted the company, and budding software developers, before. And Nintendo has steadfastly avoided putting its games on mobile platforms, even when developers of premier DS games have jumped ship, and is going through its worst financial troubles in decades.

So why go out and partner up with a car maker on an expensive second screen for satnavs? Why indeed. Here’s hoping we get a better sense of Nintendo’s vision for its handheld systems at E3 in a few weeks’ time.

(Via 4gamer.net)

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TomTom Speak & Go puts Siri in your car http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/03/tomtom-speak-go-puts-siri-in-your-car/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/03/tomtom-speak-go-puts-siri-in-your-car/#comments Thu, 03 May 2012 09:41:59 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=258585

Driving while fiddling with tech is a dangerous combination. Unless you’re James Bond, of course. Luckily, TomTom’s just made it infinitely easier to change your destination or escape the traffic without taking your eyes off the road. How? By stuffing its own version of Siri’s voice recognition tech into your car.

TomTom Speak & Go is the latest line of defence against the gamut of free and paid mobile navigation apps currently eating away at the standalone satnav business. It’s bespoke software launching in the new TomTom Via 130 and 135. And it’s clever.

Like a sort of Siri-meets-Kit, Speak & Go lets you talk naturally to the device, without fear of it misunderstanding you. It understands over 1,000 voice commands, from asking where the nearest petrol station is to a simple, fraught ‘take me home’. It’ll also let you connect your phone via BlueTooth for handsfree calling and dialing.

Why voice recognition can’t understand Scots

“The new Speak & Go feature helps increase focus and concentration by allowing users to keep their hands on the wheel,” says TomTom’s MD Corinne Vigreux. “Interacting with your navigation device has never been easier; it slots perfectly into your everyday drive.” While previous TomTom devices had voice tech stuffed inside, this is being heralded as a ‘vastly improved’ service.

So how much for Siri-style in-car talking? The TomTom via 130, with a 4.3-inch display will set you back £129 for UK and Republic of Ireland maps, or £149 with European maps. Stick an extra £20 on those prices for the TomTom Via 135, which proffers a larger 5-inch display.

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Ford unleashes SYNC talking cars: Knightrider meets Siri? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/02/27/ford-unleashes-sync-talking-cars-knightrider-meets-siri/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/02/27/ford-unleashes-sync-talking-cars-knightrider-meets-siri/#comments Mon, 27 Feb 2012 10:46:46 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=227861

Mobile World Congress is an event all about mobile phones and tablets, right? Then why has Ford rocked up with a couple of new cars? Partly to be the first car company ever to grace the show, and partly to launch its new B-Max with SYNC, a Siri-style voice-control tech that will make the B-Max “among the most technologically advanced small cars you can buy at any price.”

That quote is from Ford’s European CEO Stephen Odell, who’s helped launch SYNC at MWC to the impressed masses. So what does it do? At its base level, SYNC is a voice-recognition system that hooks up to your stereo, your phone, your GPS system and any flash drives that you choose to plug into its USB port.

But it gets far cleverer than just telling the B-Max which song to play or reading out your text messages. SYNC also boasts an ‘Emergency Assistance’ feature that could potentially save lives by speeding up response times.

See the Ford focus park itself (Video)

SYNC can detect if you’ve had an accident and act accordingly. Essentially, if you’re in a prang big enough to set the airbags off, SYNC will automatically call up the emergency services (it knows which number to ring no matter which country you’re in, and speaks the local lingo), and alert them to the fact that there’s been an accident at your GPS co-ordinates.

It’s really impressive stuff from a company heavily invested in putting pioneering new tech into its cars, and it could actually save lives by helping to get emergency response teams to accident scenes much quicker.

SYNC is already in operation in US cars, but the B-Max represents the tech’s first steps onto British shores. Ford expects to ship 3.5 million SNYC-enabled cars by 2015.

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TomTom’s insurance policy against apps: The satnav that rates how you drive http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/02/08/tomtoms-insurance-policy-against-apps-the-satnav-that-rates-how-you-drive/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/02/08/tomtoms-insurance-policy-against-apps-the-satnav-that-rates-how-you-drive/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2012 14:06:08 +0000 Ben Sillis http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=220671

UPDATE: The metrics Fair Pay Insurance measures have been added to the article.

We’ve looked at TomTom’s new business models in the face of free competitors before, and today it’s announcing another new one. In conjunction with Motaquote, it’s launching a new type of car insurance, which includes a free satnav and uses a gizmo that logs how you drive, and assesses how much you’ll pay off the back of that.

Called Fair Pay Insurance, the scheme requires you to install a tracking system to monitor how you drive, logging speed, harsh braking, time and location, G-force impact, cornering, routes and types of roads used. This data is readily accessible online to the driver at any time, and to sweeten the deal, TomTom will throw in a free TomTom Pro 3100 satnav with LIVE traffic info.

The idea, TomTom says, is to reward good drivers with cheaper premiums, assuming you don’t crash, or spend 10 hours a day speeding down the M1.

“This is unlike some other telematics-based schemes where you may have to prove your ability over a number of months,” says Nigel Lombard, Managing Director of Fair Pay Insurance.

TomTom tries to change the conversation: it’s about “sexy” traffic, not directions

“If you think of your insurance as your car’s MPG, the better you drive, the longer your fuel will last. It’s the same with Fair Pay Insurance, good drivers get more for their money and in that sense they will pay ultimately less.”

The move may seem a strange one at first, until you consider TomTom’s position. The company has struggled to stay relevant in recent years, as dedicated personal navigation devices (PNDs) have been superseded by all singing, all dancing smartphones, often with free turn by turn voice navigation. Premium competitors such as CoPilot have also drastically undercut its own app for iPhone. Its stock price has dwindled from an all time high of €64.80 in late 2007 to €3.68 today.

CoPilot is proof that with a good app, piracy isn’t a problem

Last year, TomTom tried to change the focus of its products and services from simply getting from A to B, to doing it whilst balancing traffic at the same time. Corinne Vigreux, managing director of TomTom’s consumer business unit, told Electricpig last year that even being able to control the flow of just ten percent of vehicles in an area could have a direct impact on average road speed and journey length.

“People are very cynical about traffic, they think there’s nothing you can do about it,” she said. “We think there is a viable way to reduce traffic congestion…there’s a real difference with that’s available today…You can really have a proper load balancing of congestion if you know the speeds on all the roads.”

What do you make of TomTom’s new move? Would you buy into this? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Bosch joins the satnav app race: Super cheap price undercuts the competition http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/01/25/bosch-joins-the-satnav-app-race-super-cheap-price-undercuts-the-competition/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/01/25/bosch-joins-the-satnav-app-race-super-cheap-price-undercuts-the-competition/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 12:52:08 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=211307

Bosch has decided it wants some of the juicy mobile satnav pie. Today, the company has launched a competitively-priced 3D iPhone satnav app with a raft of top-drawer features, including one that acts as your personal rally driving navigator.

The Bosch Navigation app is available now from iTunes for a limited-time-only price of £26.99. It’ll soon jump up to £45, but either way it dramatically undercuts the big-name competition; TomTom’s app is £50, while Navigon’s app is £80.

So what’s on offer? The usual mapping with 3D landmarks and local points of interest, plus a couple of cool twists like ‘Intermediate Destinations’ which let you quickly opt for a stop-off (service station, etc) without having to reroute when you get back in the car.

TomTom struggles in the face of Google Maps Navigation

The ‘Driver Assistance’ feature, meanwhile, acts like your co-driver, spouting out suggested speeds for hairpin turns. We know what you’re thinking: Bosch doing satnav? The company itself anticipates this confusion:

Bosch may not be the first name UK users think of when considering mobile sat nav, however, our expertise in this market is extensive,” says Product Manager, Florian Knollmann. Whether it can pull potential users away from the big names remains to be seen, but the price is certainly right.

It’s iPhone-only at the moment; if Bosch Navigation makes it to Android or Windows Phone, it’ll face free competition from Google Maps Navigation and Nokia Drive respectively.

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Navfree: Android gets free satnav without the roaming charges http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/11/22/navfree-android-gets-free-satnav-without-the-roaming-charges/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/11/22/navfree-android-gets-free-satnav-without-the-roaming-charges/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2011 14:45:17 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=161422

Navfree, the gratis GPS mapping service for iPhone, has now arrived on Android. The app brings turn-by-turn guidance for Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, India, South Africa and Latin America. We know what you’re thinking: Android already has turn-by-turn sat nav guidance in the form of Google Maps Navigation. Luckily, Navfree has an extra trick up its sleeve.

Navfree for Android packs a similar punch to Nokia’s Ovi Maps: it allows users to download and store the maps, which means you can use the turn-by-turn guidance in areas without 3G signal, or when abroad, where doing so would result in massive data roaming bills.

That’s what makes Navfree so special: its ability to guide you without using a drop of your monthly data allowance. On top of that, users can update the maps with knowledge of their own local area at navmii.com, which makes it a mutually beneficial app for its 3.7 million current members. All this for nought? Where’s the catch?

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Clarkson satnav banned by the BBC http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/10/14/clarkson-satnav-banned-by-the-bbc/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/10/14/clarkson-satnav-banned-by-the-bbc/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2011 09:27:11 +0000 Ben Sillis http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=152330 The BBC has pulled a U-turn on the TomTom Go Live Top Gear edition with Jeremy Clarkson’s dulcet tones acting as your guide. Stock has only just shipped, but already the device has had to be pulled, after it became clear it went against Auntie’s editorial guidelines.

BBC Worldwide has pulled the device after the corporation found that Clarkson’s voice on the satnav could be seen as endorsement of a motoring product – Clarkson is not allowed to do this as part of his role on the hit auto show.

TomTom had reportedly already shipped 54,000 units of the £179 TomTom ft Jezza to stores before the deal was even finalised. These will be sold normally, and the Beeb has said all profits will go to Children In Need.

Out Now | £179 | TomTom

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CoPilot Live Premium Android app drops to £15 for one week only http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/06/27/copilot-live-premium-android-app-drops-to-15-for-one-week-only/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/06/27/copilot-live-premium-android-app-drops-to-15-for-one-week-only/#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2011 10:17:28 +0000 Toby Knight http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=141713 Android owners who find that Google Maps’ navigation skills aren’t quite up to snuff have no choice but to shell out for an expensive commercial GPS app. CoPilot Premium is one such – usually retailing for about £30 on the Android Market.

As special offer, developer ALK Technologies is dropping the price to just £15. Grab it quick, though – this is valid for one week only.

From today & for the next week, the UK & Ireland version of ALK Technologies’ navigaton app CoPilot Premium is on sale on the Android Market for £14.99. The European maps version will set you back £29.99 for the next week, too. Once the offer is over the prices will jump back to £29.99 & £59.99 respectively.

CoPilot Premium offers 3D satellite navigation with maps that are stored on your device rather than downloaded over the air – meaning you don’t need to maintain a 3G link throughout your journey.

The app also features full trip planning and itinerary stops, voice navigation, geolocation trips (navigate to where a photo was taken) and thousands of points of interest. You can also get live traffic and weather reports and share details of your travels through the usual bevy of social networks.

ALK is working on an iOS version of the app, which is currently waiting for Apple App Store approval.

Available Now | £14.99 | Android Market

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Pioneer augmented reality dashboard: your crash free future revealed! http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/05/10/pioneer-augmented-reality-dashboard-your-crash-free-future-revealed/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/05/10/pioneer-augmented-reality-dashboard-your-crash-free-future-revealed/#comments Tue, 10 May 2011 10:02:17 +0000 Mic Wright http://electricpig.co.uk/?p=134976 Your car dashboard probably doesn’t look much different to how it would’ve 20 years ago – a radio, a speedometer and a clock all nestled together – but Pioneer wants to change that. It’s presented a new augmented reality dashboard that puts a camera on the front of your car and scans the view to identify cars, traffic lights and local shops…

Check Out Our Most Recommended

Sadly the system isn’t coming to the UK any time soon but will be outed in Japan next month for the pocket-punishing price of $3700 which also buys you a built-in DVD/CD player, a USB port, SD card reader, 5.1 centre speaker and Bluetooth. All those features are controlled by a 7in LCD display. We desperately want AR in our cars but perhaps not to the tune of nearly $4k.

Out June | $3700 (Japan-only) | Pioneer (via AV Watch/Crunchgear)

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