Get more from GPS by sharing your location with family and friends

A GPS receiver is a small device that can pinpoint your location almost anywhere on Earth via signals received from the U.S. Global Positioning System satellites. Some Windows Mobile devices have GPS receivers built into them. If yours doesn't, one can be added to it via an inexpensive accessory.

The article looks at a number of location-aware applications with "social" features that let your family and friends see your location and interact with you while you're on-the-go. For each of these applications, you'll need a "live" connection to the Internet via phone (get an unlimited data plan) or Wi-Fi hotspot.

SportsDo: Share more than just exercise information

 

Figs. 1 & 2: SportsDo uses GPS signals to translate your activity levels during sports into useful information like distance and calories burned (left) or offers a simpler screen with sport-specific information (right).

SportsDo from SportsDo LTD is the best example I've seen of the power of location-based applications. It's an exercise monitor that tracks your every move using GPS signals and converts this into useful information (Fig. 1), including the number of calories you've burned and distance traveled for exercise and diet purposes. You can select which specific activity you're partaking in (like jogging, biking, or skiing) and create custom screens (Fig. 2) that only display the minimal information required for that specific exercise.

SportsDo

 After you've finished your activity, you can upload the log to the SportsDo Web site. If your SportsDo account is set as "Public," other members can see the activities that you've participated in. If your account is "Private," then only the users that you invite (your "Buddies") can see your activities. The software also has the ability to display your current location, with the same public or private security features.

The SportsDo team also offers Web tools to help you integrate your SportsDo data into your personal Web site or blog. The embeddable map feature allows you to add a satellite, street , or hybrid map simply by pasting a piece of HTML code into any Web page. The company also launched an innovative RSS feed that publishes all activities on the site or lets you publish your own activities.

The SportsDo Buddy feature provides a list of your friends who are currently logged into the SportsDo service with their Windows Mobile devices. This screen includes the direction (e.g. SW) and their distance (in miles or kilometers) from your current location. Your buddies who do not have the SportsDo or cannot access the SportsDo Web site can also receive your location by SMS text message at predefined intervals. You can also get "location packs" that contain Points of Interest for more than 65 ski resorts around the world.

Finally, any pictures that you take with your Windows Mobile device using SportsDo are automatically geo-coded so that the location of the photograph is saved in your SportsDo activity log.

SportsDo is packed with features and doesn't come cheap. The software alone is $94.95 and a Silver Subscription is $10 per month or $100 per year. The subscription allows you to see all of your past activities online (instead of just the last ten), as well as granting you access to the My Buddies feature. Also, if you let your subscription lapse, then sign up again, your activities will be restored on the Web site. The Location Packs (for dozens of ski resorts worldwide) are available from $5.95 to $9.95 each. Finally, the company is also working on http://TrackMe.com, which they describe as "a location broker for social networks and online media sites."

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