Understanding the future of navigation from a mobile sensing specialist’s perspective

September 16, 2011 — IN-DEPTH: The future of mobile maps is smartphones and the iPhone and iPad in particular, says Philippe Kahn, CEO, Chairman and Co-founder of Fullpower Technologies. And digging deeper, when it comes to iPhone and iPad navigation solutions, Kahn says social networking is shaping the industry for the present and the immediate future.

By Ritesh Gupta

For one who is author of dozens of patents and has been associated with core innovations such as the first non-kit personal computer, fundamentals of device synchronization, and camera-phones, Philippe Kahn stands out for his credentials in technology innovation.

Kahn, CEO, Chairman and Co-founder of Santa Cruz, California-based Fullpower Technologies, emphatically says his organization has led the way in the domain of sensor-fusion.

As a specialist in sensor-based solutions, Fullpower has developed expertise in the life-cycle management of dynamic SensorWebs. In particular, key supported sensors are motion, imaging, proximity, light, and GPS.

For motion sensing, Fullpower has developed the MotionX Technology Platform.

MotionX encapsulates years of research and development on the biomechanics of natural human motion and the mechanics of machine motion. It turns raw accelerometer data into actionable information. The MotionX Inference Engine uses neural networking technology, a rule-based engine and advanced mathematical modeling to deliver the first predictive sensor-based motion solutions


Kahn says the applications such as MotionX-GPS are just the beginning.

In late August, Fullpower-MotionX came up with MotionX-GPS Drive version 11.0 for the iPhone.

MotionX-GPS Drive, termed as the best selling navigation app in Apple’s iTunes App Store, has enhanced its free traffic offering to include both live traffic flows and traffic incident information from INRIX, a specialist for real-time traffic information.

According to the company, traffic incident icons now appear on the map along with up-to-the-minute traffic flows: with one tap users get access to road construction updates, traffic accident and incident information, and details for special events such as concerts and sporting events that may affect traffic conditions.

With such work, the company continues to strengthen its credentials in the mobile sensing category with the Fullpower-MotionX technology platform. The company believes that the Fullpower-MotionX leads the navigation category on the iPhone and the iPad.

And there is a lot more to come, according to Kahn.

For Kahn, be it for what has already been achieved or what his company is diligently working on, his passion clearly stands out in his approach.

“I am personally credited with creating the first camera-phone in 1997, and I’m proud of that. There are others who make the claim, but the picture that we shared is clearly the first one and thousands around the world experienced it. It’s unmistakable. I always wonder about those other claims: If they really made a solution to instantly share pictures, wouldn’t there be pictures? I know that is what I did. From there we felt that what we did for the camera-phone applied to smartphones in general: Integrate more sensors and really make use of them. So in the domain of sensor-fusion we are pioneers and the applications that you have seen to date, such as Nike+ GPS or MotionX-GPS are just the beginning,” says Kahn, who is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming LocNAV USA 2011 Conference, scheduled to take place in San Jose (October 18-19) this year.

Mobile maps

Kahn says the future of mobile maps is smartphones and the iPhone and iPad in particular. The profoundly rich experience of using iOS and its apps is cited as the main reason. “Imagine how the iPhone 5 is going to reshape the smartphone landscape,” points out Kahn.

Fullpower-MotionX applications are built specifically for the iOS platform, which allows the development team to quickly focus on the best solutions for the iPhone and the iPad.

The company’s MotionX-GPS version 16.0 for the iPhone and iPad, released in May this year, features revamped mapping engine and waypoint display interface. The mapping engine enables users to access maps faster and with panning and zooming experience. It offers online and offline map viewing for outdoor enthusiasts. It facilitates on-board downloading of four map types: street maps, topographic maps, cycle maps and marine maps.


The high penetration of accelerometers in mobile phones, especially in smartphones, is enabling new applications, such as improved user interfaces. New trends are on one hand using the best of all navigation and sensor technologies for a seamless positioning and, on the other hand, improving the user interface for an easy access to the requested information. The benchmark should be that the information provided by the mobile device should be faster and more detailed than what a consumer can get by asking for directions.

Various automotive industry stakeholders have been focusing on sending a turn-by-turn route from the user’s mobile device to the vehicle. Also, local content players have been using Maps to provide additional value to consumers with location-aware services. And the extension of these similar services to the car seamlessly makes devices useful companions in each and every situation and enriches the car experience.

For its part, Fullpower has worked with Pioneer this year to improve the iPhone’s in car experience. MotionX-GPS Drive customers can take advantage of Pioneer AppRadio’s capacitive touchscreen for enhanced access to the popular turn-by-turn navigation solution accessing its 3D maps, real-time traffic information, live point of interest data along with Facebook and Wikipedia integration.

Commenting on types of offerings that are most popular with traveling consumers – be it for graphic maps, turn-by-turn directions or the combination of both, Kahn said, “We give a board choice of maps to users. And they tend to use them all. When they share on Facebook with MotionX, they like to pick the most “visual maps” to show where they are and when they will arrive.”

On how various stakeholders in the industry today are tapping into the power of the smartphone, while simultaneously providing a solution that safely merges the consumer’s connected lifestyle into the vehicle, Kahn says a lot of the solutions seen are simple adaptations of older PNDs.

“That’s been a key differentiator for MotionX: We carry no baggage and innovate for the leading smartphone in the world,” shared Kahn.

Overall, Fullpower’s approach with MotionX is to integrate “in-car with pedestrian navigation”.

“That’s because most of us have to use one or both daily. With MotionX you’re covered,” shared Kahn.

Navigation Sharing

Fullpower acknowledges the significance of the social networking features in its offering. And there is an element of personalization, too.

For instance, in its MotionX-GPS V15 for the iPhone and iPad, there is a real-time location sharing feature, which allows users to broadcast their position to selected friends. As a tailor-made offering for outdoor enthusiasts, it allows hikers, cyclists, skiers and snowboarders to share positions automatically. Social groups can share, meet and exchange. MotionX-GPS V15 takes the next step in navigation sharing.

“MotionX customers love how we’ve integrated Facebook and Twitter. MotionX is truly the first navigation solution that is fully integrated with everyone’s social infrastructure,” according to Kahn.

“We think that social networking is shaping the industry for the present and the immediate future. We want to share, meet, recommend and that too, instantly,” added Kahn.

Be it for enhancing navigation experience or navigation sharing via smartphones, or improving upon online and offline map viewing, Kahn’s team seems to be ready for the next frontier.

And Kahn accentuates on the same with his penchant for innovation. 

“We love it…where technology and software craftsmanship matter. That’s what we love to do at Fullpower-MotionX,” concluded Kahn.

LocNAV USA 2011

Philippe Kahn, CEO, Chairman and Co-founder of Fullpower Technologies is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming LocNAV USA 2011 Conference, scheduled to take place in San Jose (October 18-19) this year.

For more info, click here


Helen Raff
General Maneger

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