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Internet Connected GPS Units: A Step Forward?
Ed Kohler
SiliconBeat is reporting that Dash, makers of an Internet connected GPS system have raised $16 million in VC to bring their product to market. The concept of a Internet connected GPS system has intrigued me for some time now. Why should a GPS have to store the entire country's streets just so I can travel through a limited part of the country? Why can't I sync updated maps and points of interest into a GPS on the fly?

Today's GPS units start decreasing in value even before their sold, since the data contained within the units immediately starts becoming out of date. People who tend to visit new developments, like developers and real estate agents, are probably feeling the most pain with current static data models.

While I picture "Internet Sync of New Data" when I hear "Internet Connected GPS" it sounds like Dash's unit is more of an Internet Dependent GPS solution based on this comment:

". . . in some areas Dash will find it difficult, if not impossible, to work properly via the Internet. Sand Hill Road, the center of venture capital in Silicon Valley, is notorious for its poor cell coverage, for example."

If that's really the case, I doubt travelers will jump at the chance of relying on a cellular and WiFi networks for navigation. However, it's not entirely clear that this is the case, based on this quote, "Even if it doesn't reach an Internet connection, the device will store basic navigation information." which makes is sound like the unit's data is enhanced via cell and WiFi, but not dependent on them for navigation. This sounds more realistic, but I believe still falls short of my web based data update concept.

If you're in the market for a GPS unit today the Garmin Nuvi is my current personal favorite because it works well and packs up into a small package for transportation in a brief case or luggage. If size doesn't matter, I actually prefer the navigational choices of the Magellan 800. In my experience, the Magellan unit is more aggressive with navigational corrections when you happen to get off route. The Magellan recommends making "a legal U-Turn" while the Nuvi will generally suggest three right turns followed by a left to turn things around.




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