A digital solution for wayward travelers

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A digital solution for wayward travelers


Left: Sony’s attachable GPS device. Center: Samsung Electronics’ GPS phone model SPH-B5800. Right: The portable multimedia player iNavi Star by Thinkware System. Provided by Auction

Paul Jacobs, the president of Qualcomm, jokingly said last year that he would like to have a chip in his teenage daughter’s cell phone so that he knows where she is.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, this type of technology is becoming more common; location-detection systems are being embedded in all sorts of digital gadgets.
Location detection can be done using a variety of technologies, but the most common one is the global positioning system, or GPS. This system is based on more than two dozen satellites that hover in mid-orbit transmitting signals that determine where the person using GPS is.
In the past, this was mainly used for government purposes, but these days it is being used for commercial, everyday, practical purposes as well. Lately, the sales of portable digital devices that have GPS functions have been going up. Moon Young-gu, a category manager at Auction, one of the major online trading sites in Korea, said that sales of products with GPS functions have gone up 15 percent since last year.
According to Moon, one prominent trend is that people are not buying separate in-car navigation devices, opting for cell phones or personal digital assistants that have navigation functions.
Previously, phone navigator systems worked based on signals received from base stations, but now GPS is being added for more precise position-location on the digital map.
For instance, Samsung Electronics’ digital multimedia broadcasting GPS phone not only shows you where you are, but also shows how congested the roads are, providing road updates every five minutes.
Portable multimedia players are also vamping up on navigation functions, such as the Inavi Star by Thinkware System Corp. This device is a navigator if you install a navigation program and digital map. You also have options for digital multimedia broadcasting and the common media functions. The device can be controlled with a remote control as well. Similar features can also be found on most newer personal digital assistants.
Surprisingly, digital cameras also have GPS functions, like Nikon’s D2Xs, which saves the time and location where photos are taken along with the photo itself. Sony CyberShot series don’t come with embedded GPS features but one can separately attach a GPS-CSI device in the $90 range. This device allows the photographer to arrange photos according to location.

By Wohn Dong-hee Staff Writer [wohn@joongang.co.kr]
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