Nokia 800 & Maemo support GPS

At CES this year, Nokia released the N800, an updated version of the developer friendly N770 internet tablet. They incorporated some of the feedback from users for more memory, a built-in camera, stand, and speakers/microphone.

What is most interesting (to me) is the built-in support for GPS and location devices in the N800 OS, Maemo. Maemo is based on Debian Linux, and the GPS support is done by building in gpsd, the location-daemon. gpsd provides a common interface for location-based applications to access to the GPS information via the low-level service. Therefore, when you connect your Bluetooth GPS device to the N800, gpsd provides the location to any and all apps that may request it, like MaemoMapper or MaemoBlog to publish to geographic blogs via GeoRSS XML-RPC.

There is detailed information available from Maemo.org, HowTo use GPS framework in OS2007.

I would argue that it would have been better to just include a GPS chip in the device itself. Currently an external device is required to be purchased and connected to use the location information - not something a typical user would do whenever they are traveler or quickly use the device out and about.

A better possibility would be to incorporate WiFi geolocation, such as Skyhook's Loki, to provide location information over gpsd by the visibility of WiFi access-points. This would work much better in urban areas anyways where WiFi could be more visible than GPS signals.

I'm looking forward to hopefully getting my hands on one and see about geolocating the N800 camera images and WiFi/GPS/Cell tracking.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.