2008, the year of on-foot GPS navigation?

Two upcoming products, the Nokia 6210 Navigator and Navteq's Discover Cities, have got us wondering whether 2008 will be the year when on-foot satellite navigation finally comes of age.

Two upcoming products, the Nokia 6210 Navigator and Navteq's Discover Cities, have got us wondering whether 2008 will be the year when on-foot satellite navigation finally comes of age.

Last year we tested the 6110 Navigator, Nokia's popular GPS phone, and concluded that while it was a good phone, it was a poor GPS device. Its in-car navigation was compromised by its small screen and fiddly keypad-based controls.

However, our hearts skipped a beat when Nokia announced that its successor, the 6210 Navigator, would include an accelerometer and digital compass. Coupled with its built-in gyroscope, it should perform well in city centres where most consumer GPS devices struggle; our modern canyon of skyscrapers bounce the signals from GPS satellites around, or obscure them completely, making positioning difficult.

The gyro should benefit not only drivers making their trek through our congested CBDs but also those seeking navigation advice when on foot. And now we've received word that Navteq is developing a version of its Discover Cities software for Sydney and Melbourne; it's been penciled in for April this year. Merging information from Fodor's travel guides with pedestrian specific navigation data, like footpaths, as well as pedestrian overpasses and tunnels, Discover Cities is aimed at travelers who are keen to explore the sights and sounds of unfamiliar cities on leg power.

Other developments that we're looking forward to this year include the introduction of the SUNA traffic service in Sydney and Brisbane; this will complement the system that's already up and running in Melbourne. With a traffic-enabled enabled GPS navigator and an active subscription, drivers can be routed around prangs and traffic snarls. Those who enjoy taking their Toorak tractors off the beaten track will also be happy to hear that Navteq and HEMA Maps are working together on products to make sure that off-roaders don't get lost in the bush.

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