Welcome to GISWeekly! For those of you just tuning into GISWeekly for the first time - it is a weekly newsletter available at your desktop every Monday morning - and GISCafe's new offering for 2003. GISWeekly will examine select top news each week, pick out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature an article on the Tablet PC, Industry News, Alliances/Acquisitions, New Products, Announcements, Around the Web, Downloads and Calendar.
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Best wishes for the year ahead,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor
The Notebook of the Future: Focus on the Tablet PC
In the last quarter of 2002, Hewlett Packard-Compaq released their Compaq Tablet PC TC 1000. The first part of this article will focus on general questions about the Tablet PC, featuring an interview with Mark Baerenstecher, Worldwide Product Manager, HP Tablet PC, who works with engineering to define requirements and timing for the product.
The second part of the article focuses on the Tablet PC and GIS, with input from Jim Skog, Manager of HP's GIS Division, and Autodesk's Senior Business Manager, GIS Division, Colin Hobson.
|Tablet PC demo at Autodesk University|
Mainly professional knowledge workers, more like you and I who end up taking notes a lot, when you want to have to eye to eye contact with people and still have access to information that helps us make decisions.
Is there any group within that group who is responding to it more enthusiastically?
CEOs and others who want to be able to do email quickly, send notes, mark up documents. I can annotate documents sent to me, keep a copy for myself and send them back. So it's not just for one specific purpose-- it fits the needs of a lot of different people. The key thing is it appeals to people who want to take a lot of notes, keep notes in their own handwriting and maintain eye to eye contact while doing so.
What are some of the features of the Compaq Tablet PC that are different than others on the marketplace?
One is that you have a keyboard that detaches so you can have a slate for writing on that is very convenient, because you can use it as a tablet, but then when you want to use it as a note book, you can quickly unstow the keyboard or attach the keyboard from its tablet position, put it into notebook position. It's a normal notebook position with a keyboard and a point stick. We've done a lot of things to make sure the tablet is an ideal writing pad. We made sure the top cover is extended beyond the edge of the screen so there are no obstructions to your hand when you're writing. We've also put on a wide angle viewing film so you can write at your normal angle.
It's a 3 pound tablet and you get over 4 1/2 hours of battery life.
Does the software save the notes in actual text or does it save in your handwriting?
It depends on what application you want to use. There is an application that comes standard with Microsoft Windows XP the PC edition that is called Microsoft Journal and it actually captures your handwriting. It renders it very well as your handwriting, in fact you don't need to recognize everything as text with this. We've done things with our hardware to make sure you have a pleasant handwriting experience.
What are some of the technologies that are innovative that are designed to operate with the Tablet PC?
In recent years we've been able to come out with really small notebooks, but only now have we been able to come out with really low powered processors, that give you longer battery life. There's more attention to providing lower power consuming components that still give a great PC experience. We have been waiting for the right kind of software to make this experience right for the business professional. The software has existed for awhile for the vertical markets, but now it's right for the business professional.
How does the Tablet PC compare with the notebook PC?
Everything we have in the Tablet PC you find in the notebook PC so when you're looking at an ultra portable PC you should consider a Tablet PC. Because just for a small premium you can get the added feature of handwriting. Everything else is the same in terms of performance, power, capability. We can build notebooks this size that have the same performance and capabilities -- they just don't have handwriting.
If you're going to compare it to a Pentium 4 15-inch notebook, there's a different target market for those than for the Tablet PC. Tablet PCs typically come in a 10 inch form factor and are more focused on battery life, whereas a 15 inch notebook is more focused on having the greatest performance but it's not very mobile.
The key thing is if you're looking at a ultra portable PC you should get a Tablet PC because for not much more you're going to get handwriting in addition.
What are some of the features that make the Tablet PC appealing to mobile users?
The Compaq Tablet PC has a 4 ½ - 5 hour battery life. You've got to design a mobile system for the Tablet and that's why we're focused on long battery life. And the other part is, as a Tablet it should be a primary PC, so we looked at how to build a PC that adapts to your environment the way you do. If you work in a lot of mobile scenarios, you're going to want a Tablet PC that is a great PC, and has great handwriting capabilities, but then when you need to get to a keyboard quickly and easily, you can. The Tablet is all about smooth and seamless transitions. When you transition in a hotel you may be using the Tablet, and when you transition back to your office, you have a docking station that transitions back to a full size keyboard, mouse and monitor.
The whole design--from the hardware and software standpoints--has incorporated this notion of smooth and seamless transitions.
In your office you want to be able to drive everything on your Tablet PC to your monitor, as well as view your notes on your Tablet. When you dock everything comes with you, when you're using the Tablet you have long battery life and you'll be able to write on it, get to things very quickly.
For years companies have been trying to develop “pen based computing” solutions. How do you see the Tablet PC being different from those previous solutions?
Pen based computing is good for verticals - I think people who know how to use keyboards know that the keyboard is a good tool in terms of business use. And that's great when you're sitting down, but when you become more mobile then the pen becomes more active. How do you keep the pen as much a part of the system as the keyboard? And without trading off much, how do you adapt your PC to the way you work?
Is this about pen computing? No-the Tablet is about how you use a pen in addition to your keyboard. For some people a pen is all they need, for others, they want to be able to get to their keyboard when they need it.
The Tablet PC For GIS
With regard to the use of the Tablet PC specifically for GIS, I spoke with Jim Skog, manager of HP's GIS division. “I was surprised at the speed of the adaptation of the IPAQ and Jornada handhelds. I didn't really expect tens of thousands of those to get snapped up in GIS usage so quickly. The Tablet PC fits halfway between a handheld and a laptop - it's got some of the advantages of both of those things, therefore there will be a lot of people who try them out, particularly in utilities and municipalities, and those that work onsite with GPS devices. I think they're going to find that they fill a niche for people who want to handwrite notes as opposed to type them in. That lightweight portable technology will be valuable whether they're in the field doing wildlife observation, or whether they're taking GPS readings, or doing any kind of documentation.”
According to Colin Hobson, Senior Business Manager, GIS Division at Autodesk, the Tablet PC offers a form factor that can deal with larger data sets as well as deliver graphic performance. “So it means that anyone can work online with data directly or can work offline with a larger dataset and take the data to the point of work. In any situation where there is a field crew that needs to go out, instead of taking rolls of paper maps we actually have a form factor that's a whole lot better than a PDA or laptop,” said Hobson.
Autodesk's OnSite view is a PDA type application that works alongside Autodesk Onsite Enterprise, which delivers live data from a central server to a Windows CE-based mobile device. Telstra, the Australian telephone company, has over 5,000 active users of Onsite View and Enterprise and are looking to expand that to a better form factor. Telstra has about 17,000 trucks that go out everyday to work on the telephone lines. They found that when using paper maps, they had a turnaround of about ten percent because the trucks didn't have the right data in terms of maps and diagrams, connections or customer information. They would return to the yard to get new information. By putting the maps on a PDA they reduced that travel by about 2 percent. “It's saving them about $5 or 6 million a year,” said Hobson. “You can quantify it, it means their service is much more effective and efficient, so it means the dollar value is just the economics of x number of trucks, x number of times saves so many hours of work saves so much manpower and it gives you a dollar value. Of course, the customers get a much better value.”
In a bold move for Tablet technology, Autodesk extended its Homeland Security Initiative to include the use of the Microsoft Tablet PC with a successful pilot program at a major West Coast airport. The plan is to give emergency responders and airport management at the scene of a crisis or disaster the Tablet PC combined with live spatial data, maps, aerial imagery and situation planning. Security needs information available on a mobile platform that can be shared between emergency response teams via wireless networks and a centralized database.
Recently Autodesk entered into a Homeland Security Initiative partnership agreement with Kelar Corporation, to incorporate Kelar's Geographic Security Portal software, built using Autodesk MapGuide and OnSite View. The incident management application provides mobile incident tracking, reporting, and administration, utilizing voice, images and freehand redlining. The software was optimized for the Tablet PC for the pilot airport project, extending the Geographic Security Portal's capabilities so that information can be shared over a wireless network on the Tablet.
With the powerful combination of the Geographic Security Portal solution and the Tablet PC's mobile computing capability, airports will be able to respond more quickly, efficiently, and accurately to any disaster.
Specific Tablet Features
The Tablet PC is smaller and lighter and can hold more information than a laptop. The inking works very freely and feels as though you're drawing with a pen. The same API as with other products such as Windows Journal is used so when you write on a map it feels and looks the same as when you write in text. Instead of clicking on an icon, you have a little drawing area where you can use specific symbols which mean specific things, say for example, < sign, that could mean zoom in, and the opposite > would mean zoom out. You don't do what you would do with a mouse-go to menu, pull down a drop down and click on something. You can just use these “gestures,” which is like a shorthand for controlling the application.
The pen interface will make it easier for people to interact with applications better. “We see the Tablet PC adding to the popularization of GIS - it's not going to be a revolution but it's certainly going to add to the speed of adoption and increase the influence of GIS applications and data,” concluded Hobson.
Tablet PC: Scribbling Into the Future Hoping to write a new chapter in the saga of pen-based computing, Microsoft unveils its vision for tablet PCs -- CNET.com November 6, 2002
Tablet PC--Where Do We Go From Here? ZDNet.com
"Versatile Compaq Tablet PC Adapts Mobile Technology to Suit Any Work Style" WirelessDevNet
TracerNET Corporation and Southern LINC, (NYSE: SO) announced the availability of a joint solution that allows organizations operating mobile fleets to receive automatic status and vehicle location information over Southern LINC's iDEN wireless data network.
TracerNET's offerings use GPS, sensors and a proprietary design to determine a vehicle's location and the job status, without the need for driver input. This information is then delivered in real-time over Southern LINC's wireless data network to either a web-based or a client/server application.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions demonstrated the interoperability of GeoMedia(R) technology by successfully participating in the recent Geography Markup Language (GML) Estafette sponsored by the Kring van Aardobservatie en GeoInformatie (Dutch Society of Earth Observation and GeoInformatics) and the technical university, TU Delft. The event was a relay designed to convey the Open GIS concept, demonstrating the easy, open exchange of spatial data using OpenGIS Consortium (OGC) standards such as GML.
It has been a big week for Bentley Systems, Inc. in terms of acquisitions. First announced was that Bentley had executed an agreement to acquire Infrasoft Corporation, a global software and services company with operations based in the United Kingdom. Infrasoft is well know for its civil engineering design and infrastructure management solutions for engineering firms, consultants, contractors, infrastructure operators and national, state, provincial, county and municipal government authorities.
The acquisition maximizes opportunities and return on investment for MX and Arenium users, according to Infrasoft CEO Rick Fiery. Bentley Civil is expected to benefit from the addition of Infrasoft's string-based technology and enterprise-level operations applications.
Next, Bentley acquired the Department of Transportation Division of TransDecisions, Inc., including the Linear Referencing System Extensions (LRSx) software. Bentley also hired on associated TransDecisions employees with the acquisition.
Kirk Divine, former vice president of Professional Services for TransDecisions, has joined Bentley as Director, Transportation Management Solutions. What LRSx brings to the table is a solution that enables transportation organizations to store, reference, manage and analyze linear data inside an Oracle database. Users can take advantage of any of the standard data access tools compatible with Oracle and provide results to GIS systems.
TransDecisions LRSx users are expected to benefit from Bentley's broad suite of integrated civil, geospatial, and operational applications. Bentley Transportation Operations and Management solutions are used in 16 states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Lakeview Technology Inc. announced on December 3, 2002, a relationship with ESRI. ESRI's GIS software links mapping and location data with other information to solve critical business needs such as locating in-ground infrastructures, managing natural resources and fulfilling other location-specific requirements. Lakeview's OmniReplicator replicates data so that it can reside where it needs to be (even when it needs to be in several different locations at once) regardless of differences in source and target platforms and database structures.
MapInfo Corporation (Nasdaq: MAPS) made a move to strengthen its presence in the retail, restaurant and real estate industries by acquiring privately-held Thompson Associates of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a provider of location-based analytical services and business intelligence software for those industries. Other advantages to this acquisition include the addition of a skilled team of professionals to complement MapInfo's analytical customer relationship management (aCRM) North American operations, and the addition of customers to its aCRM business in the U.S.
From the press release, “MapInfo expects this acquisition to be accretive in fiscal 2003, adding at least $13 million in revenues and $0.01 - $0.02 in EPS in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2003.”
Navman announced the release of its latest compact GPS companion product for the Pocket PC and Tablet PC platforms. The Navman GPS 4400 provides satellite connectivity to PDAs that are utilizing Bluetooth . The device features Navman's SmarST Professional navigation software and is being demonstrated at the 2003 International Consumer Electronics Show.
Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. , released a new line of lightweight, easy-to-use GPS products that follows in the footsteps of the company's eTrex product line. The Geko series' name was inspired by the multiple species of small colorful Gecko lizards. The press release likens the GPS products to Geckos “as pets, Gecko lizards are known for their low maintenance and high entertainment value.”
One would hope that the new Geko GPSes do not need to have their cages cleaned. The “high entertainment value” comes from the Geko line's “whimsical colors, waterproof construction, easy operation, intuitive software - even fun outdoor games - built into these GPS devices that are designed to fit into your shirt pocket .and your budget,” according to Gary Kelley, Garmin's director of marketing.
The Geko 101 is designed for the casual user, with 250-waypoint storage capacity with graphic identification to mark parking spots and other specific locations.
The Geko 201 takes the basic functionality of the 101 and adds Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) to deliver accuracy of less than 10 feet. The Geko 201 also has a user- configurable trip computer and 10,000 log points for automatic recording. In addition the 201 is outfitted with several Garmin-proprietary games.
Battery life on both devices is 12 hours on two AAA batteries. Waypoint/Route storage 250/0 - Geko 101; 500/20 Geko 201. Automatic track storage: 3,000 trackpoints - Geko 101; 10,000 trackpoints and 20 saved tracks - Geko 201
The Geko 101 and Geko 201 should be available in first quarter 2003 with suggested retail prices of $106.24 and $149.99.
The National Agency for Environmental Protection (APAT) Italy, has developed a WebGIS application that streams 300GB of imagery (compressed to a 15GB using the ECW format) across the Internet to handheld PCs from its Image Web Server website.
APAT employees can now zoom and roam over huge compressed ECW images from a handheld PC whilst working in remote locations. First, employees connect their handheld PC to their mobile phone (wireless transmission portal) to get an Internet connection using Bluetooth Technology. Once connected, the ECW image is served to their handheld PC via APAT's Image Web Server website.
Planetek Italia (Earth Resource Mapping's Reseller) was instrumental in developing the APAT Image Web Server website, and helped support both the design and implementation of the system.
Safe Software announced the release of FME Suite 2003, an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool that makes it easier for organizations to translate, transform and share and enhance their data between over 100 GIS, CAD and database formats. Users can write to SVG, and easily merge large numbers of datasets. Expanded format capabilities include reading Autodesk Map Object Data and OS MasterMap V2 Address Layer, along with maximized management of general XML and GML 2.1.SDE Versioning support and a .NET interface for FME Objects are also included with this release.
ESRI announced the release of MapObjects 2.2 - Windows Edition before the start of the New Year. The Windows edition is a collection of embeddable mapping and GIS components that can add dynamic mapping and GIS capabilities to existing Windows applications. Users can also build custom mapping and GIS solutions. Existing MapObjects 2.1 customers current on their maintenance programs will receive MapObjects 2.2 at no charge. Enhanced labeling, tracking layer smoothing, support for Visual Studio .NET (VB.NET and C#), and improved projection engine are just a few of the new features in MapObjects 2.2.
Mapopolis hardware and software bundles are available immediately at Mapopolis.Com Inc.'s website, mapopolis.com. Bundles are available for handhelds from Palm, Sony, Compaq, HP, XDA, Casio, Toshiba, Fujitsu and others.
Each bundle includes GPS hardware and a Mapopolis Navigator or Platinum +GPS subscription and range in price from $199 - $350.
Europa Technologies shipped its digital world map Global Insight, version 3.0. Updates and enhancements included in the new release extend across the global product family and include:
* Updated political map
* Increase to over 532,000 named places
* Population estimates for over 48,000 places
* Country & ocean names in French, German, Italian, Spanish & Dutch
* Time Zone updates now with Daylight Saving (DST) information
* 1st level administrative areas for Japan, South Korea & Afghanistan
* 2nd level administrative areas for USA (counties) and Puerto Rico
* Flag graphics at two resolutions
Paradigm(TM), provider of advanced petroleum geoscience and drilling technology to the oil and gas E&P industry, announced the release of major enhancements to its time-to-depth conversion functionality.
ESRI Virtual Campus presents Penn State Edition: Learning ArcGIS I, a new course that combines the convenience of online instruction with the added benefit of online support from a Penn State instructor.
ESRI is offering free seminars to professionals in the engineering and public works industries. The seminars will take place in various parts of the United States between January 14, 2003, and March 13, 2003.
Tiger Telematics, Inc. (BULLETIN BOARD: TIGR) announced that it has completed phase two of a restructuring of its European operations by selling the stock of Tiger Telematics, Ltd to a Swedish firm Norrtulls Mobilextra Aktiebolag of Stockholm, Sweden. Tiger did not sell the rights to any of its new TT product line of telematics units.
Solid Terrain Modeling (STM) has completed a new model for the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. The model was purchased for the Geospatial Information Science Program at the USMA to use as an example of a new and innovative method for 3D visualization of battlespace.
The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) announced a campaign designed to evaluate the new High Resolution Stereoscopic (HRS) instrument on SPOT-5.
The international evaluation campaign is being jointly organized by ISPRS and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) as an 'HRS Study Team.' The Study Team is managed by Manfred Schroeder, ISPRS Chair of Working Group I/2, Sensor Calibration and Testing, and Alain Baudoin (CNES). For inquiries about joining the Study Team: contact Manfred Schroeder via email at anfred. Email Contact
MapInfo Corporation (NASDAQ: MAPS) announced that the Company expects to report revenues of between $20.5 million and $21.0 million and a loss per share between $0.11 and $0.13 for the first fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2002, based on a preliminary review. Low revenues in the Americas, causing longer than expected sales cycles, delays in customer procurement processes, and increased budgetary pressure and reduced demand from some of the Company's communications customers were cited as reasons for the preliminary results.
PlanGraphics, Inc. (OTCBB: PGRA) reported a net loss of $393,120 on revenue of $8.2 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2002. The results compare favorably with a net loss of $1,123,602 on $7.6 million revenue a year earlier. PlanGraphics is a designer and integrator of e-government solutions and spatially enabled information systems and data warehouses. Revenue for the year rose $519,540, or 7%, over the prior year. The reason given for this was that several contracts for the company's geographic information systems (GIS) solutions were held in abeyance by key local government customers pending receipt of federal funding and resolution of changes in clients' administrative policies and procedures.
Around the Web
Top Ten Technology Trends for 2003 - Red Herring-“Red Herring continues its tradition of identifying future trends that are grounded in present reality--not to mention persuasive facts and strong analysis.”
"U.S. Disaster Plans Include Cloned Icons" New York Daily News
“Deploying high-powered, laser-scanning technology to record the landmarks from every angle, the feds have been creating three-dimensional digital models of their complex exterior features. They also have scanned part of the ornate interior of the Capitol.”
“Helping Land Development Professionals Get Along” Land Development Today
Robots for the Masses Pasadena-based Evolution Robotics claims to have developed a navigation system that is cheap enough to bring robots to the mass-consumer market. CNET NEWS.com, January 9, 2003
Downloads this Week
GISCafe has many popular downloads in various categories that can be accessed directly by going to http://www10.giscafe.com/link/display_categories.php Visitors are encouraged to go to the site and add new downloads or update their old ones.
Data and Data Tools
The Geography Network Free geographic data sets can be found here (updated listing for 2003)
IntelliCAD 2001 Version 3.3 Free trial software download from CADopia. IntelliCAD 2001 is for anyone who creates, edits, or views professional drawings.
Going on This Week
DMTI Spatial Seminar - Census Demographic Products
Date: January 14, 2003
Place: Markham, Ontario, Canada
You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.
To read more news, click here.
-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.