Clever little device for displaying road speed

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This, the Snooper My Speed Aura, is a clever little device. Although it’s made by Snooper, a well established speed camera detector company, it actually has a more useful purpose than alerting you to speed camera locations (which it can also do…); it tells you the normal speed limit along a road. By utilising the Navteq road speed database and a GPS signal, it is able to tell you what it thinks is the normal speed for the road for your car (**), and that, to me, is a clever trick.

Actually, it can also detect speed cameras; it has access to the Snooper Aura speed camera database, so using the GPS can also alert you to whether there is a speed camera in the area, but the ability to tell you the speed limit of normal roads would give you confidence over whether you were speeding or not to being with.

Normally £130 (with lifetime updates to the Snooper speed camera database), it’s currently available from Halfords for only £90 (though they don’t keep it in stock, so you need to order it to be delivered to home or to a store which will take a few days, so this deal is not for those who want to buy it straight away.

It only comes with a windscreen suction mount, and I couldn’t find any third party mounts, though it might be possible to modify the mount to be able to mount directly onto the dash, and doesn’t seem to have a battery, so would need power at all times in the car, and the only other downside is that I haven’t tried the Snooper speed camera database to know how accurate it is (of course, you don’t really need to rely upon it with this particular device). In fact, you can buy it without the speed camera database (but the Halfords price with the camera support is still cheaper).

Even better, Snooper have recently updated the software inside the device, and any new devices bought this year have a new trick up their sleeve; you can specify what type of vehicle you have (car, truck, car towing) and it will adjust the speed to reflect your speed on the road, which I think makes the device even more useful, especially for those who occasionally tow, or have caravans, motorhomes etc.

On the screen above you can see it’s displaying a speed camera alert (you can turn off the smiley face if you want a more professional looking device!), when there are no speed cameras around that circle displays the current road speed instead.

** – sometimes it doesn’t know the exact speed for the road, so provides a suggested advisory speed. Also, when speed limits change the device may not know about the change, so you should always used devices like this as a secondary aide, and still pay attention to the road signs!

Although the device comes with lifetime speed camera updates, the updates for the road speed information does cost; it’s currently £10 per year, which seems not too bad, especially when you realise that covers the whole of Europe (where data is available), and not just the UK. I’ve no idea how often Snooper update their data though; their website says the £10 charge allows you to update “once per year”, which does sound a little infrequent to me.

Overall, a clever little device that concentrates on doing one thing, and seems to do it quite well. My only problem with it is the price; for the same price (actually slightly less), you could buy a device such as the Garmin Nuvi 30, with full European navigation as well as the facility for displaying the road speed limit (a function of most recent models from both Garmin and TomTom). In my mind, there are only two situations where the Snooper My Speed really shines; when you drive a truck or tow, so the ability to select vehicle type is important (satnavs that offer that facility are normally much more money), or where you have a built in satnav in your car already, and don’t need a second device, but would like to benefit from knowing the road speed limit at all times.


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Ovi Maps updates

Friday, February 25th, 2011

There have been 3 key Ovi Maps updates in the last week and a bit, and I thought it was worth recapping on all of them.  Firstly, these only apply to the Touch devices, so although other devices such as the Nokia E71 still have free Ovi Maps, it’s not yet clear whether it will ever see these updates, which would be a shame if the elder devices were abandoned.

Many users have been using the v3.06 Beta that was available via Ovi Maps, and one feature this version added was the ability to check for, and update the mapping data directly from the phone.  Well, for those running this Beta, two weeks ago Nokia released updated maps.  Unfortunately some of us suffered crashes when trying to update, which left the phone without any mapping, and no ability to update to the latest maps.  This was resolved by using Ovi Suite on the PC to apply the “latest” maps (although this took you back to the Q4 2010 maps, which were released with the original v3.06 beta).  However, a little while later, Nokia resolved the issues, and it was possible to update to the Q1 2011 maps (either on the phone or via Ovi Suite).  I can’t say that there were any major updates in my local area, and in fact a major road project (the new A421 between Bedford and Milton Keynes) was missing from these February 2011 maps, despite the road opening in November 2010 (and Google Maps managing to get the new mapping available the same day the road opened).  Although I can understand minor road updates not making it into their database, one would have thought a key update like this would be there; let’s hope it’s there for the next map update.

Then, Nokia formally released the v3.06 Ovi Maps, which is now available in the Ovi Store.  Due to the way Nokia doesn’t really handle updates, it depends on the phone whether or not you will be notified that the update is available (phones that support applications within the Software Update application should see a notification, either on the phone or in Ovi Suite).  Other phones will have to go and pick up the update manually.  It’s worth noting that this version was slightly newer than the last beta, so it was still worth upgrading to.

However, yesterday, Nokia went one stage further and released another Ovi Maps v3.06 beta version.  This version is still newer than the Ovi Store version, and adds the ability to use the CheckIn facility to checkin to both FourSquare and Qype locations.  Bringing support for FourSquare makes a lot of sense, and seems to work pretty well in the testing I’ve managed so far.

So, if you have a Touch Symbian device, it’s well worth looking at all of these updates; a combination of application and mapping data updates continue to make Nokia stand out from the crowd with their free SatNav application, but there’s a risk the Nokia-owned Navteq mapping data is falling behind TeleAtlas (and hence Google Maps) in terms of quality of the UK major road network.


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Tele Atlas now using TomTom MapShare data

Monday, February 16th, 2009

TeleAtlas Logo

We first covered this last year, but Tele Atlas have just released their 2009.02 maps to their navigation partners, which include, for the first time, updates that have been based around the TomTom MapShare data provided by TomTom users.  The previous map update included basic updates (one way road errors, turn restrictions, incorrect names), but this update has taken things a stage further.  Tele Atlas have analysed the tracklog data (of those users who have opted to share this with TomTom and Tele Atlas) to spot where there have been road layout changes, or where their data could be made more accurate to reflect the actual position of the road on the map.

This should, in time, improve the quality of their data, especially with the ability to use data from users to be alerted to new roads and road layout improvements.  Over the last few years, despite the sales of TomTom units, many people, including us, feel that Navteq have had better mapping data for the UK, and this may help to level the playing field a little.


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Pronav release their second HGV specific SatNav

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Further to the original device we featured here, Pronav have now launched the successor, the Pronav PNN-200, which will be available from Maplin from Monday at £199.99.  The key features are:

  • Navigation based on height, weight, width, length and hazmat
  • Potential hazard warnings (steep hills, crosswinds etc.)
  • HGV POI’s including truck stops and loading bays
  • Bluetooth hands free calling
  • Free six month safety camera alerts trial
  • Free 2009 map and transport updates

This is said to be useful for not just HGV drivers, but also drivers of any vehicle with any height, width or weight restrictions, including, for example, caravan and motorhome drivers, or drivers towing horse boxes.

Providing map updates is an interesting idea, it will include web access to quarterly updates up to and including the Q2 2009 Navteq release (which we suspect is likely to actually be released much later in the year than it’s name implies); alternatively CD-ROM versions will be available with a small extra cost.  However, the unit must be registered within 14 days of purchase to qualify for these updates.

This unit doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a TomTom or Garmin, but does do one thing very well, and that’s ensure the route selected is relevant to the vehicle.  As we said when we first covered the first unit, we hope other Navteq map-based SatNav manufacturers take advantage of this data and release similar units; after all, if every unit included this functionality by default, we should have less stories about lorries being stuck in narrow lanes.

Also, it looks like Maplin are running another Free Delivery weekend, so if you are looking for that last minute xmas present, then head over and see what they have to offer.

Initial story courtesy of Pocket GPS World.


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Nokia Sports Tracker now supports maps

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

If you’ve been using the Nokia Sports Tracker client, you’ll know it’s a usual tool for both logging your sports activity, but also acting as a general tracker of where you’ve been (or even currently are).  Well, over at the Nokia Research website, they’ve released a new version of the client, v1.82, which is marked as a “intermediate test version”, which we assume may well migrate to the Nokia Beta Labs page at some point.

The latest versions adds limited map support into the client (previously the client had no maps, whereas full mapping is available from the website afterwards).  Although it use the same Navteq maps that are part of Nokia Maps, it does not use those maps, but instead downloads over the internet (from the Sports Tracker website).  The client needs a memory card installed to download the maps onto, as well.

We also note that the previous version on this website added the ability to track the music you are playing whilst exercising.  This is one of the key features of NokiaviNe, so it’s nice to see a sharing of the features across both systems.

Story and screenshot courtesy of Symbian Guru.


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Nokia updates

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Nokia

Both Nokia and the wider community have been busy with a lot of updates, some of which we summarize here.

Firstly, Nokia has updated both the Nokia Maps application for your Symbian device, but also a new Nokia Map Loader. Symbian Guru has kindly worked out the direct download links, which are Nokia Maps and Map Loader, if you don’t want to go via the normal Nokia Maps flash webpages.

Symbian Guru also points out that Python for S60 has been updated too, and is now at v1.4.4.

In other Nokia news, Mobile Web Server has been updated to v1.4, and Nokia have also released the new v7 PC Suite, and the Nokia PC Music client is now at v1.5.

Finally, the plan for Nokia to buy Navteq has now been approved by the EU, so it will be interesting to see what impact this has as the companies merge together.


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SatNav for HGV drivers

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

ProNav for HGVs

Here’s something we strongly approve of… It’s a SatNav unit designed for HGV drivers, but priced at a similar level to other SatNav units. As a driver, you enter the height, weight, length, and any other potential factors, and the SatNav will choose HGV-friendly routes which will avoid roads / bridges / corners / weight limits that the vehicle cannot navigate. It can even avoid roads with cross winds or steep hills. The device uses NAVTEQ Transport data which includes all this additional data to help the unit. It’s also got hazardous goods information, information on loading bays and HGV fuel stations.

With a few button presses, the unit can have the HGV restrictions removed, so can be used in normal vehicles too, but anything that helps to avoid HGV drivers blindly follow their SatNavs and ending up on the front page of the BBC website or a national newspaper has to be a good thing.

There’s no support for receiving traffic data, although the unit does support a safety camera subscription, which is free for the first 6 months.

Maplin seem to have picked up, and the ProNav should be available from their stores in the near future. We expect other Navteq SatNav manufacturers to look at this unit and work out whether there’s a market, so we may well find other units offering this amount of customisation in the next year or so.

More information at Pocket GPS World.


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Mergers under investigation

Friday, March 14th, 2008

A few weeks back the European Commission announced it was not 100% happy with the merger between TomTom and TeleAtlas, and now has raised similar anti-trust concerns over the merger between Nokia and Navteq. Both companies are responded to questions from the EC, but at this stage it’s not clear whether either deal with succeed.


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TomTom to buy TeleAtlas

Monday, November 19th, 2007

TomTom Logo

TeleAtlas Logo

Further to our previous article, at the end of last week, Garmin withdraw it’s bid for TeleAtlas, although not until TomTom had increased their offer ($4.2m) above that of Garmin’s ($3.3m). Garmin, a long time Navteq user, announced at the same time that irrespective of Nokia buying Navteq, Garmin have guaranteed access to Navteq data until 2015.

The TomTom deal is set to be signed today.


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Bidding war for mapping data providers?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

TeleAtlas LogoNavteq Logo

Earlier this year, TomTom announed it was going to make an offer for TeleAtlas. A few months later, Nokia announced it was actually making an offer for Navteq. This prompted TomTom to firm up it’s offer for TeleAtlas.

Today, Garmin has joined in and has also made an offer for TeleAtlas, which is an interesting move from Garmin, who have traditionally used Navteq maps worldwide.

There are other rumours flying around about companies wanting to buy TomTom, but nothing is confirmed yet.

Story from PocketGPSWorld.com


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