The Earliest GPS Device

They are notorious for guiding exasperated motorists down footpaths, into ponds or to the wrong city entirely.

But the modern-day sat-nav is likely to pose far fewer problems for lost drivers than its 1927 forerunner.

The Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator, which has gone on display at a National Trust house, is thought to be the first navigation device for motorists.


Eccentric invention: the Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator’s tiny interchangable paper maps seem quaint compared with their modern counterparts

Worn like a wrist-watch, it is loaded with a tiny paper road map that is rolled across the face by adjusting two small black knobs.

It comes with set route maps, such as London to Bournemouth and London to Edinburgh, and the driver winds the knobs to move the map on as their car travels further.

When motorists wish to turn off the road, they have to pull over to replace the map with another map that corresponds to a number on the junction.

The ingenious but fiddly device was never mass produced and would have only been used by the tiny section of the population who could afford cars.

It also has a function to allow the wearer to keep golf scores, which indicates it would have been worn by a Bertie Wooster type of person from P.G. Wodehouse’s famous novels.

It is one of the key attractions at the Curious Contraptions exhibition of eccentric inventions from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, at Standen House in East Grinstead, East Sussex, on various dates until 1 June.

Owner of the collection Maurice Collins, 73, from Muswell Hill, London, said it was of his most unusual items.

“It’s an amazing invention and I have never seen another one like it,” he said.

“The idea is that if you want to go from London to Bournemouth you put that map into the watch and then as you drive along you wind the device to keep pace with where you are.

“It is very amateurish and very simplistic.

“Sadly I’ve never tried it myself and I’m not sure how successful it would be as a navigation device.

“It’s a bit of an eccentric invention.

“It’s the sort of thing you can imagine Bertie Wooster using and then his butler Jeeves having to dig him out of a hole.”

The wristlet would have cost around £5, which in today’s money is about £45 to £50, Mr Collins added.

It comes with around 20 maps but more could be ordered to cover the entirety of the country. Most of the set journeys start from London.

Christopher Hill, visitor services manager at Standen House, said it was an ingenious idea.

“It is a great idea but it would have been quite fiddly to keep winding the map on as you drove and when you wanted to change a map you would have to pull off the road,” he said.

“It would probably have been used by people who were taking day trips from London and would have been sold in car shops alongside driving gloves and maps.

“Modern sat-navs cause a lot of problems but I think they might be a bit more reliable than this gadget.”

Other gadgets on show at the nineteenth century exhibition include a hem measurer, a brothel clock, which helpfully projects the time onto the ceiling, and the portable desk for writing while on a train.

Offline GPS navigation to Windows Phone by Navigon

Using the Bing Maps navigation functionality in Windows Phone Mango is really decent. However, the fact that you have to tap to hear each turn is lame. I look forward to seeing what Nokia brings to the table with their navigation solution, but at this time that is a big unknown on Windows Phone. One new application we do know will provide an excellent navigation experience, with offline mapping support, is NAVIGON for WP7 that is coming soon.

I’ve used NAVIGON in Android device and thoroughly enjoyed it. WPCentral has a few details on this new version that runs on Mango and takes advantage of the new Mango features. The following statement appears in their press release:

NAVIGON’s premium navigation app soon will be available for Windows Phone 7 users. The app includes many signature features that have made NAVIGON’s apps successful on Android devices and the iPhone, including on-board maps, spoken turn-by-turn directions, visual lane guidance, live traffic information and rerouting, among many other features. NAVIGON’s new app runs on Windows Phone 7.5 and also takes advantage of new features made available to developers with this new release. These features include the augmented reality function Reality Scanner, which provides an instant and effortless way of identifying nearby destinations while on foot; an option to select address information directly from the phone’s contact list; and the ability to save a favorite or home address as a shortcut on the start screen.

It is good that they are offering full support for a walking mode with their Reality Scanner too since I often use GPS navigation solutions when traveling in new cities and often that is on foot. Their lane assistant is also one of my favorite features since there are some confusing highways out there. I plan to get this on my Windows Phone Mango device as soon as it is released.

They also announced updates to their Android and iPhone apps that include new map management from a web browser, redesigned user interface, and much more so if you have the app on those platforms go check for the free update.

by zdnet

Microsoft’s Bing Maps for Android- pleasant surprise for me!

Microsoft’s Bing for Android may not technically be the first Microsoft-made app for Android phones (that honor belongs to the rather obscure Microsoft Tag Reader,) but the Bing is its highest-profile app.

Bing for Android closely resembles Bing for iPhone, with an image of the day marking the backdrop, and a pop-up menu to search by images, movies, maps, news, or what’s nearby. There’s also an option for directions. A search field sits at the top, next to a voice search button. Bing for Android hides your history, settings, and favorites in the phone’s hard-coded Menu button.

The Android version of Bing also integrates maps, and the touchable hot spots hidden in the day’s image that reveal additional information about the photo du jour. Swiping backward loads previous images.

However, Bing for Android lacks two significant features found in the iPhone version-options for scanning an item’s bar code with your camera, and connecting to your Twitter and Facebook feeds.

We’re fans of the Bing app on all platforms we’ve tested, and while we’d like to see this Android version gain parity with the iPhone version, usabilitywise, it’s no exception. We’d also like to see the Maps portion add directions for public transit–a la Google Maps-to complement its driving and walking directions.