I have a new toy. It wasn’t enormously cheap and it basically looks like a little box with three lights on it that pulse in interesting ways, but it is extremely exciting and cool. It is a Holux GPSlém 236 GPS blob – recipient of a glowing 99% review over on pocketgpsworld.com. Here is a picture of the extravagant little beauty:
And what does it do? It communicates with satellites to pinpoint your location in the world to within a dozen feet or so and presents it as long and lat coordinates. That’s about it. But the possibilities are sort of endless, and more importantly they’re now available for pretty much any of us to easily hack around and build things with. They’re completely within the range of real humans, pretty reliable and nice and easy to set up.
I got mine working straight out of the box. I literally plugged it into the mains, turned it on and told my phone to pair with it. And it did so with no problems whatsoever. I have Zonetags installed on my phone already for quick photo uploads to Flickr, so I went to its options and told it to start using GPS and pretty much immediately it was detailing where I was in the world, which direction I was moving in and at what speed. Two minutes later I’d taken my first geotagged photo, and ten minutes later when we got back to the office, I could see it plotted on a map. It was all tremendously exciting.
I know I’m sort of late to the game on this stuff, but I’m already thinking around the various things you could do in connecting up GPS things with weblogs and other nerdy extravagances. There’s an enormous culture of people working in this area that could really do with being surfaced and popularised and maybe this little tiny, relatively cheap and easy to set-up little device is the thing that makes that really start to happen? Biddulph’s already shown me a few neat things including a simple app that turns your journeys into .kml files that you can just plug into Google and of course there’s all the neat stuff that Open Street Map have been doing (See Tom Carden and Steve Coast’s Awesome visualisations). But really there’s no limit.