NDrive launches navigation with oblique aerial imagery in the UK



NDrive G280
NDrive G280
NDrive, a Portugal-based navigation software company, has launched today in the United Kingdom two Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs) featuring oblique aerial imagery - called “Photo mapping” to make it more consumer friendly.

This system features 5 different perspectives; 4 diagonal perspectives plus a bird’s eye view. The system automatically chooses the best perspective for the driver whilst navigating. Alternatively, the user can choose a perspective manually, according to his own preference. “the G280 and G800 have been specifically designed to satisfy the needs of both drivers and pedestrians alike”, said NDrive. “With a touch of the screen, both devices can operate in pedestrian mode and the inclusion of photo mapping makes navigating on foot a whole new experience”.

The oblique aerial imagery has been provided by Norwegian company Blom ASA (read more here about Blom). NDrive’s photo mapping is currently available in 29 cities in the United Kingdom; where photo mapping is not currently available, the PNDs automatically switch to standard TeleAtlas mapping - the solution features UK and Ireland Tele Atlas Q1 2008 maps). The rest of Europe is also available on plug and play memory cards and feature “photo mapping” of major cities throughout Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The map and imagery data are stored on a 8 Gigabits SD card. The G280 (3.5 inches screen) and G800 (4.3 inches screen, Bluetooth, FM transmitter) are respectively sold at £199.00 (USD 400) and £315.00 (USD 630).

A few other companies have already sold this kind of PND in Spain where Blom has started to market its technology in September 2007.

NDrive G800
NDrive G800
This kind of solution looks seducing on a picture, but in a car where a driver is - supposed to - keeping his eyes on the road it might give too much information and therefore little clarity. For a pedestrian, however it is probably much more interesting to understand its surroundings seen with an oblique view above.

With aerial imagery available from many mapping portal, consumers have been definitely exposed to this mapping interface. Surfing on this trend, companies such as Intermap, DigitalGlobe, Pictometry, Blom, and many others are now trying to sell their imagery products to PND manufacturers. However, these days the navigation industry is shared between two trends: "less is more" and "more is more". Leaders such as Garmin and TomTom want to keep the screen of their PND simple to read at a glance, while challengers try to push the envelop with new contents, sometimes giving up on usability in favour of more gadget-like features.

Tuesday, April 22nd 2008


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