On June 8, 2005, New York City-based Mexens Technology introduced a brand new tracking and navigation system called AlwaysOnGPS.
The System blends GPS positioning and WiFi positioning to provide precise location information where GPS alone can't reach, inside office buildings or parking garages, for instance, or in the steep-walled canyons of major cities. For fleets that operate within urban environments, this could be a right-sized tracking solution in terms of cost and ease of implementation. Time will tell, but AlwaysOnGPS is clearly off to a fast start.
“We have been surprised by the momentum of this launch,” says founder and CEO Cyril Houri. “After less than a month on the market, we already have about 2,000 users taking advantage of our free trial period and we're in discussions with several companies currently providing GPS-based tracking and navigation services and systems that would like us to become channel partners.
“The thing about this technology is that users don't have to rely on a carrier or a service supplier; they don't have to rely on anything,” he adds. “This is a software-only tracking solution designed to be download onto an existing PDA or PocketPC running on a WindowsMobile application.”
According to Houri, this new approach to urban navigation uses GPS signals when they are available to construct a map of the WiFi “landscape” around the receiving device. Then when the user enters a building or moves out of reach of GPS, it automatically switches to WiFi signals, plotting location by triangulating the signals from WiFi access points, which have been stored in a database during the landscaping process.
“When I am outdoors and I have a GPS signal available, I use it to build a map of all the area's WiFi access points and store that information in a database,” Houri explains “I was at a conference in San Francisco last week, for instance, and I demonstrated our system inside the conference hotel. On the way to the hotel, I was mapping the neighborhood. When I entered the building I could still see precisely where I was on the map. The location dot on the screen kept following me through the hotel. We believe this solution will be very useful for individuals and companies who have to track deliveries to the real end point.”
You can download AlwaysOnGPS now from the company's website: www.AlwaysOnGPS.com. A 30-day trial period is offered free of charge. After that, there is a one-time registration fee of $19.95. System requirements include: a WiFi enabled PocketPC PDA device (integrated or enhanced 802.11 b/g) with a 266Mhz or greater processor and internal memory of 64Mb or greater running the WindowsMobile Operating System (CE/2003), plus compatible wired or wireless GPS. Maps are not included with AlwaysOnGPS, but the company reports that they “haven't found a map or tracking application yet that doesn't work with our software.”
Although Mexens Technology is not yet one-year old and its first product has not reached its 90-day birthday, an enhanced version of the software is scheduled to launch soon, according to Houri. “The next generation software will include cellphone positioning, too,” he says. “We believe this will provide positioning that is even more accurate and coverage even more ubiquitous. Services will also available for purchase with the new version, such as WiFi maps of major cities.”
If you are tracking trailers or other assets today, you might also want to track the progress of this new, fast-moving technology. Who knows how far it will go?