Not Where Are You, But What Is That? Japanese Cell Phones Know

Michael Santo of RealTechNews writes:

Some cell phones combine GPS with the phone… so you can tell where you are. In Japan, new specialized phones allow you to point the phone at a landmark and get a readout of just what you’re looking at. And yes, once again I’m wondering why the U.S. is always so far behind in cellular tech.

What would you use this for? Looking for a specific business, restaurant, or landmark, you could use your cell phone to direct you to the location.

The phones combine satellite-based navigation, precise to within no more than 9 meters, or 30 feet, with an electronic compass to provide a new dimension of orientation. Connect the device to the Internet and it is possible to overlay the point-and-click simplicity of a computer screen on top of the real world.

The technology is being seen first in Japan because emergency regulations there require cellphones by next year to have receivers using the satellite- based Global Positioning System to establish their location. [Source: The New York Times via IHT]


We Say: U.S. carriers don’t necessarily use GPS to determine location. Only two carriers use it, according to the article. Others determine location based on cell phone towers, and that’s only good to within 100 meters. Thus, the Japanese have a huge head start.

The technology is supplied by a small U.S. company, GeoVector, working with the carrier KDDI, NEC Magnus Communications, and Mapion, a company that distributes map information over the Internet. Frankly, this looks like a really cool use of technology. No more carrying around MapQuest maps!

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When blogs became “hot,” we looked at the category and found a gap. Tech blogs were furiously covering gadgets and gizmos and new products from Asia, and the mainstream tech sites were diligently doing product reviews and news items, but no one was really sitting in the middle and bringing the best of both worlds to one place. Enter RealTechNews (RTN). Our mission is simple: We aim to bridge the gap between the informal and mostly amateur-run tech blogs and the polished but often slow and advertiser-supported tech portals.

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