In-car navigation is now more popular and affordable than ever for the average motorist and with the number of navigation packages available for Pocket PCs and PDAs (personal digital assistants) the choices are growing. With the launch of SmartRoute, by SmartSurv Wireless in 2004, the selection has widened. This wireless navigation system makes use of the GSM telephone network as well as your cellphone to provide you accurate information to help one reach one's destination without getting lost.
But what about the maps that drive the technology? Many take for granted that the mapping data will get you from A-B. A number of navigation tools, SmartRoute included, have been led by the accuracy and dependability of the digital maps provided by MapIT. MapIT's maps, now the de facto standard for southern African data, have lifted the bar of digital mapping applications.
SmartRoute differs from other GPS-driven navigation tools commonly found in luxury vehicles, in that it utilises general packet radio services (GPRS) technology to acquire its maps and calculate the route off-board, relaying the information to a cellphone. For MapIT, their electronic mapping data co-ordinates with a staggering array of technology. Whether it is GPS, GPRS, Wap, Bluetooth or 3G/UTMS (coming soon), these maps integrate with the software providing the most accurate routing information available at present.
If you are using SmartRoute, determining your route is easy. Simply type in your required destination, and hit the send button. Within 40 seconds or less, the 'corridor', as it is known, is sent back to the unit, and the user is ready to undertake his or her journey.
This information contains the data you need to get you from A to B, using the best route. The file size is very small, around 60 Kb, and will cost an estimated 5c to download through your cellphone. Much the same as conventional GPS systems, the user can select the quickest or shortest route, meaning that the system will use highways where possible if the former is selected, or make use of secondary roads and backstreets in the latter.
The Bluetooth GPS receiver which sits on the dashboard will identify your position on the display through its software, where visual and/or verbal instructions will be generated, instructing you where to drive.
Like normal GPS units, the SmartRoute system will recalculate the route for you if a wrong turn is made. Whereas maps are normally downloaded into GPS units prior to their operation - and thus quickly become outdated due to roadworks and changes - SmartRoute maps are updated on a daily basis on the central computers, which in essence should provide a more accurate service.
Road closures or maintenance will be updated on a daily basis, while filling stations, emergency services and other points of interest will also be available, all of it supported by the trusted, MapIT digital mapping data.