Quite some time ago I saw a GPS homing device advertised by Hammacher Schlemmer (how do you pronounce that anyway?).
This little scamp attaches to your key chain (Click Here to see a description and a video of the most recent incarnation of the device). The idea is that when you park your car somewhere – like in the parking lot of a busy shopping mall at Christmas – you simply press a button and the homing device stores your current location to within a few feet.
Later, when you come out of the store, the small screen on this device presents you with an arrow indicating the direction to your car along with the distance (I’m not sure if this is measured in feet, yards, or meters). As you walk towards your car the display is constantly updated until you find yourself at your destination.
You can use the device to store up to three locations (you can overwrite these with new locations, of course), and several people have commented that this is also very useful for things like finding your way back to your campsite if you are hiking in the woods, where it is more than easy to lose your way.
I must admit that when I first saw this I thought this was a rather good idea. I even pondered getting one for my dear old mother, who occasionally forgets where she parked her car (bless her little cotton socks). One problem is that she tends to park in the backstreets of the town center. This means that the arrow on the tracking device would almost invariably be pointing directly into a building, which would probably confuse her no end. The other issue is the price – at $79.95 this is a rather expensive gizmo.
The reason I’m waffling on about this here is that I just received the Summer 2011 issue of Droid Magazine. I didn’t even know I’d subscribed (grin). Actually, this is essentially a marketing brochure from the folks at my cell phone carrier, Verizon, who are trying to tempt me with promises of delight with regard to their forthcoming Android phones.
Of course I couldn’t resist taking a skim through this brochure (purely in the spirit of technical interest, you understand). Of particular interest was an article about a guy called Edward Kim, who is a 28-year-old software developer and founder of PicWing (www.picwing.com). As an aside, I just bounced over to the PicWing website, which presents what seems to be a very simple, clever idea – my hat is off to Edward for coming up with this and I wish him all good luck for the future.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about (grin). It seems that young Edward has a habit of misplacing his car, which can prove to be a tad embarrassing on occasion. Thus, Edward ended up creating his Car Locator app, which ended up as the grand prize winner in the 2011 Verizon Developer Community Power Your App Contest.
Personally, I think that Car Locator, which is available for $3.99 from the Android Market and the V CAST App Store, is a very clever application. As you can see in the associated image, in addition to presenting you with a radar-like image at the top of the display (you are at the center of the circle, the red dot indicates the direction and distance to your car), the bottom of the display presents you with the corresponding Google map, which would be ideal when it comes to locating your car in the middle of a city.
I just purchased this app and downloaded it to my Droid Incredible, which explains why (about 30 minutes ago as I pen these words) I was to be seen wandering around the parking lot outside my office looking intently at my smartphone while repeatedly walking away from my car and then returning to it with an expression of surprise and delight on my face.
The funny thing is that no one in the building glancing out of the windows saw anything strange in my behavior. I think it must be because they are used to me by now (grin).
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