Over the last 6 months I have been heavily involved with an OpenSource GIS project
: It has really opened my eyes as to what is currently possible with free code, the technology just around the corner. Put simply, I'm stunned.
One interesting development for yotties is the One Computer One Child project
which has unexpectedly driven the computer market towards smaller cheaper netbooks: People love their very small size, cost and go-anywhere appeal - they do 99% of what people use laptops for... emails, letters and surfing the net. This development even caught Microsoft on the hop and forced it into a retreat on withdrawing XP.
Some of these netbooks are now just a few hundred dollars, making them very affordable and accessible. Add a $50 mouse GPS
unit and the entire unit becomes a very neat dedicated navigation
station. Their very low cost means the carry-two solution is a viable solution to the "what happens if the GPS
My OpenGIS work means I have both a GPS enabled phone
and PDA unit - I am now playing with open source GDAL libraries and Google
Maps to build a low cost backup equivalent to RDF, something cheap
which is good enough (or better than RDF), a solution to get me near enough to home so I can pick up local landmarks and use local pilotage charts
before I encounter non-deep water
. Already there are some good GPS mobile units using free vector global base-charts which can guide a boat across the Atlantic to make landfall in the right place.
These are not designed as a primary navigation
system, more a viable replacement to RDF and DR. Its interesting to note these mobile devices have touch screens, are daylight viewable and can run continuously (for months) from solar panels
. And most have SD card slots for loading very high resolution vector charts
(Stuff raster, vectors are tiny, editable over the net and are ultra resolution).
One final thought: There is an old adage one should not rely solely on electorincs as they night fail: One should still have charts, compass
as a back-up. Sure, but drop a fragile sextant
or bend its arc
in a broach and you are stuffed just the same.
Open source requires no dongles or licensing, software
which can be reprogrammed by yourself, vector maps which can run on a number of different devices from laptops and/or mobiles and uses data which can be downloaded/updated by the internet
or via mobile. Mobile OS GPS seem to have a lot going for it.
The future on navigation is getting very interesting.