|Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant|
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
New algorithms for vehicle navigation....
Over the past seven months I have experienced the use of a vehicle navigation system comprising a PocketPC along with vehicle navigation software using industry standard map data. Combined into a commercial product known as Destinator, it has been quite helpful in getting me to unfamiliar addresses, finding my way in inclement (limited visibility) weather conditions or on dark roads and guiding me around various (freeway) obstructions encountered in the normal course of driving. It also can assist in finding local services such as gas stations, ATM's, restaurants, hospitals, police stations and 40 additional categories of points-of-interest.
While I have been involved to some degree in the sale of this product, let me relate some stories about its use.
Over the past six weeks I have been following the Erie Otters hockey team as they strive for the Memorial Cup (the "Final Four" equivalent for hockey prospects). This has necessitated a few trips from my home just west of Toronto to Erie, PA via the border crossing at Buffalo. Last Friday I left, as usual with about 4 and a half hours to the start time, on what is normally a three hour trip. But for some reason Toronto area commuters sometimes get too keen on the Friday afternoon commute and create problems by physically encountering other vehicles or roadside accoutrements, thereby creating traffic jams. For this trip I encountered one accident at the roadside, one freeway closure and congestion due to volume at a major bridge construction site, all before reaching Buffalo.
With Destinator I was able to get off the freeway and get guidance to an entrance beyond the obstruction via local roads. It does help to have some knowledge of these local roads for the general direction but Destinator was able to provide the specifics for finding unfamiliar interchanges, knowing the distance to get to the next turn and generally provide alternative driving directions. Really helpful was finding an alternative route around St-Catharines, ON where the skyway over the Welland Canal is being rebuilt, resulting in only two lanes each way on a normally three lane roadway and creating massive congestion during the rush hour.
The key here is that Destinator can modify its driving directions in real time, on-the-fly. As a result, once you get a mile or two away from the initial divergence, you find Destinator suggesting a new route to get you back on track; if you are generally travelling in the direction of your destination, you can readily obtain the specific details of what route to follow to get you back on track. Not only does Destinator provide the route but also the distance to the next turn -- very helpful when you really don't know how long it is going to take you to travel an unfamiliar road.
At Buffalo, I knew I wanted to avoid some bridge replacement construction on the I-90 just west of the I-190 interchange. I also knew that following the Interstates 190/90 takes you about five or six miles east before turning west towards Erie. But there is an alternative state highway (5) that is largely limited access directly after the Peace Bridge that takes you west immediately. With Destinator I was able to determine a quick route to an interchange about five miles west of the I-90/I-190 interchange and avoid the construction completely.
The bottom line is that the delays did cost me some time but with Destinator I arrived at the game just as it was starting; otherwise I would have been half-an-hour to an hour late and probably missed the first goal. Oh, and they won the Ontario Hockey League championship to qualify for the Memorial Cup next week.
You ask about the cost. Well, about US$1,000 including the PocketPC and the full Destinator system (software, GPS antenna & 12 Volt cable). But I also have a PDA that synchronizes with Outlook more easily than any Palm Pilot, accepts Word and Excel documents for quick reference and even has news and sports updates via the AvantGo services. Most importantly, however, is the time it saves in finding and traveling to unfamiliar destinations. I have used Destinator in rental cars in six cities with no need to ask for any directions to my hotel, my customer location or a restaurant.
Check it out for yourself at Destinator's website.
[5/14/2002 8:31 A.M.| Jim Courtney]
This is the start of a weblog experiment, having learned about Weblogs in April's Wired magazine and then come across more information via a report from Dan Gilmour's Weblog at San Jose Mercury News.
A long time technology sales and marketing executive I have operated four different Canadian technology sales and marketing subsidiaries in fields as diverse as nuclear magnetic resonance technology (for chemical and physics analysis long before MRI became a routine technique in medical imaging); electroneurophysiology equipment, PC hardware distributor sales, PC software distributor sales and Internet technologies and services.
In more recent times I spent two years in Los Angeles involved in sales and marketing at Quarterdeck (remember QEMM and DESQview -- Windows 2000 may have finally caught up to DESQview for stability and scalability) where I also had significant exposure to Internet business models.
More recently my business development and and business plan consulting services have exposed me to the application of the Internet to radiology, automobile repair content and location based services.
So much for the intro... my aim here is to provide commentary on fields I have been exposed to, often based on news articles. I don't know if anyone will be interested or this is just a blind exercise ... only time will tell.
We all talk about e-this and e-that. Well you can view my oldest son taking his medical training at Stanford using the e-Pelvis, designed to ensure we have more pain-free medical examinations. Go to http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,51037,00.html and expand the picture.
My exposure to the use of Internet technology in radiology was with a software development company that was purchased in 1999 by Merge Technologies of Milwaukee, WI (www.merge.com). These guys really understand the issues involved in recording, reading and archiving radiology (and other) images, have been deeply involved in setting some of the radiology communications protocols and have some neat ways of allowing these technologies to be integrated into legacy radiology systems. Not only do they OEM product to the major radiology instrumentation manufacturers (GE, Phillips, Hitachi, etc.) but they also provide a means for small to medium hospitals to upgrade their radiology systems and link them to neighbouring medical facilities without having to buy complete new systems. A company to watch (NASDAQ: MRGE); have a look at their track record for the past year.
This is my signoff for today... have a good day
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