GPS research project topic
linux.luser at myrealbox.com
Sat Apr 26 00:26:19 CEST 2008
On 25 Apr 2008, at 20:57, simarillion wrote:
> Now I have to do a student research project and because I'm a big
> fan of the
> openmoko/freerunner project I want to combine this. ...
> I must give them a topic that must
> contain research and the GPS. Now is the question, what research
> with the
> freerunner and it's GPS device can I do that would help the openmoko
> community and seems to be something that institute would support.
> It should
> not be "only" writing a gui or something like that.
> I have got to improve, develop, add or optimize something.
What I'd really like to see for OpenMoko & GPS is a way to text-
message (SMS) your location to someone. When an OpenMoko device
receives a text message containing a location it automatically opens
(say) a GPS-compass and points the direction and distance to the sender.
I do not know if this would satisfy your research criteria, but there
are a number of ways the project can be developed.
The address book must have a new option so that you select a contact
and then choose "Find me!" - this automatically gets location from
the GPS and sends it in an appropriate format.
The SMS application on the receiving OpenMoko must recognise the
location format and pass the location data as a parameter to another
(user specifiable) application. The map or "compass" application must
be patched to read parameters when it is opened and point the compass
at that location or show it on the map.
The location should probably not be automatically added to the
recipient's waypoint database, because the receiver will probably
never use that location again. It is acceptable to create a waypoint
called "temp" if it does not exist and overwrite "temp" if it does
exist already. If the user renames the "temp" waypoint to something
more recognisable (eg: "bar on the beach") then it should not be
My interest in this is that I used to fly paragliders pretty
seriously, and once one becomes adept at flying more than a 20 or 30
kilometres, getting home becomes a problem. Usually your friends will
come looking for you - when I first started flying many people did
not have mobile phones, and their prevalence became a god-send.
Nevertheless, one may still be limited to describing one's location
as "just a few miles past Uckfield, I'm right by a white farmhouse
but I'm walking to a nearby cross-roads; I'll tell you what its
signposts say when I get there". The problem becomes compounded when
one is on holiday - in the Alps it is easier to fly larger distances,
and once into the next valley one may not know the name of the town
near which one has landed. One may land only a mile or two from the
highway but be unable to describe one's location because one doesn't
know to say "I'm on the side-road which leads to $town". Further, the
retrieve driver may find it difficult to get directions from locals,
especially if the driver doesn't speak the language, and consider the
roaming charges incurred by long and complicated conversations of
When I was last flying seriously there was some initial talk by the
marketing departments some manufacturers (Nokia?) of adding this
feature to their phones. So I would guess there are one or two models
already on the market which do this. The OpenMoko needs to be able to
interpret the location format of these phones, and the address book
needs a function to specify alternative formats for the "find me!"
SMS, so that it can be sent to Nokia or Motorola (which surely use
proprietary location formats).
Clearly, this feature sells itself to walkers and hikers and outdoor-
pursuits enthusiasts, but it would also be of great use to the wider
population. I think that after you've used this feature just once
you'll never want to be without it! Say you are meeting friends in a
club or a bar, and you don't know where it is. They just send you an
SMS and your phone bleeps and you look at the screen and it says "300
metres that way" (and if they're two or three streets away the needle
points in the right direction when you come to a junction). This
becomes even more useful when you're driving across down because
Bob's recently moved house or there are a bunch of people in town for
a MeetUp (tm) this evening, but a crowd have arrived early and have
found a park to laze in (I'm thinking especially of typical Internet
MeetUps, when many people may be from out of town, and don't know the
area; neither party may be able to give good directions!).
For this to work all mapish (i.e. map and GPS-compass) applications
need to accept parameters and behave sensibly with them (EG: "/usr/
bin/kompass 44.093333,6.236389" needs to start that program without
the user having to separately enter the destination) but in case the
software author does something stupid one needs the option to
manually specify the command line called by the SMS receive
application (eg: "/usr/bin/gmap --destination $1", where the SMS
application inserts "44.093333,6.236389" or whatever for $1; it is
conceivable that the device owner might need to write a Bash script
to parse "44.093333,6.236389" and instead spit out '/path/to/app --
destination --format=long-winded --northing 44° 5′ 36″ --easting
6° 14′ 11″' on stdout.
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