Nokia’s Grand Mapping Plans Include “Living Maps” & More

Nokia has been a player in navigation and mapping for quite a while. Unfortunately neither Nokia nor users at large talked about it till Apple’s disastrous foray into maps. Recently announced cross-platform mapping solution Nokia HERE has brought the focus on one of Nokia’s hidden weapon in today’s smartphone wars. BBC’s Leo Kelion took a closer at Nokia’s offering to understand the technology behind it. Here are some interesting facts from Kelion’s piece:

  •  Nokia’s been in the mapping business for almost 25 years
  • Nokia offers free real-time traffic updates by collecting data from GPS-enabled Nokia smartphones
  • Nokia will be introducing a feature called “Living Maps”
  • Living Maps are a local feature, like Foursquare Explore, that study where users spends their leisure time
  • Based on the data collected, Nokia will generate heat maps to suggest locations around a location
  • Nokia will be collecting all this data from Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and devices that have Nokia HERE installed
  • Nokia will be competing with Google’s Street View
  • A fleet of True cars will collect street data such as high-res images of architecture and even measure slope of roads to calculate routes that consume lesser fuel
  • Nokia’s True cars and data collected will be better than Google’s because:

[Nokia True cars will have] rotating sensor called Lidar (light detection and ranging) which uses 64 lasers to capture 1.3 million points of digital information every second of each vehicle’s journey.

  • The technology will let Nokia create a digital representation of the real world
  • Nokia has 45 True cars in US & Europe for almost 18 months, and expects to have 200 by 2013
  • Compared to Google Street Car’s panoramic images, Nokia’s True cars capture panoramic images in addition to the data captured by Lidar
  • Nokia hopes to translate this digital data collected for natural voice guidance, Nokia’s Cliff Fox explained:

Natural Guidance facility aims to give the kind of voice-directions a knowledgeable friend would offer rather than what’s currently provided by turn-by-turn systems.

Instead of saying, for example, “turn left in 100 metres” it will say turn after the church, or once you’ve crossed over the bridge.

It is fascinating to see how a company that many say is irrelevant in mobile continues investing in an application that many use their mobile devices for.

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Manan Kakkar

Manan is a technology enthusiast keenly following the consumer products from Microsoft, Google & Apple.