Try Mobile Sat Nav Apps

I’ve never been a modish or a technogeek, but I like practical.

I had been annoyed by my TomTom One more and more recently. Considering its disadvantages below plus I have been using it for six years, I decided to replace it.

  • A frozen starting screen (the solution is to connect it to TomTom Home on computer to restart it!)
  • Can’t find signal at the beginning, and I have to drive for a bit distance to retrieve the signal. This is not relevant to my location.
  • The postcode button is disabled without a clue and I am unable to key in an address to find the specific place.
  • No free life-time map updates
  • Small screen
  • Slow notification when I need to know the direction at a Roundabout
  • No much difference between the ‘shortest’ route and the ‘fastest’ route.
  • For people who use it first time, the direction voice guidance is a bit confusion, for instance, ‘keep right’ actually means staying on the same road.

I haven’t decided to buy another GPS navigation device or simply use a mobile phone. I did a bit search online and on my week-journey in Cornwall, I tried two free mobile apps: Here WeGo and GPS Navigation & Maps Sygic as my temporary sat nav tools. Neither is ideal, but for my own purposes, Here WeGo is better and it matches most of my requirements as follows:

  • Free and good review rate
  • Can download the maps and use it offline (So don’t have to have Internet)
  • Map is accurate and easy to read
  • It has turn-by-turn voice guidance, so I don’t need to look at it all the time.
  • The map is easy to follow
  • Not really use a lot of battery
  • Have automatic day/night mode
  • Repeatedly notification when near a Roundabout/junction to change direction (can be too much too!)
  • Speed limit notification
  • Can save collections of the favourite places
  • Can set preferred route (I haven’t worked out how to use this the best. I found if I saved a collection and then I can choose between different routes before Start. However if I key in a postcode directly through Drive, there is no settings for me to choose a preferred route.)

Some disadvantages of Here WeGo:

  • Lose signal quite often, but often it connects again quickly.
  • If I don’t choose a preferred route manually, by default it will guide a shortest one (which could be very narrow country lanes).
  • When I key in a postcode, it changes to the one the system uses.
  • Only one voice is available, or turn off the voice guidance.
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Hands-free wheelchair

Following my previous post about mind-contralled bike, I read this news today: a team of researchers at Japan’s Miyazaki University developed a facial muscles controlled system aimed at people paralyzed from the neck down.

The way it works is pretty simple: the wheelchair, which is still in prototype mode, can be turned left or right by blinking the eyes and put into motion (and stopped) by clenching one’s teeth.

I was wondering how easy will it be for the wheelchair users to wear those magical electromagnetism wave induction tabs on their face/head as they are unable to use their hands/feet and need to use facial muscles.

"mind-controlled" technology

Yesterday I listened to the radio and heard the concept that we will be able to use brain to control bike grear change, then I told my colleagues about the news of “mind-controlled bike” as I know people like cycling. If the kind of concept bike exists, it will be awesome to try, won’t it?

We then had an entertaining talk about the possibility, such as if this technology is in practice, we will be able to use it in driving; walk in dark places if we have eyes and ears disabilities, and so on. I suppose Stephen William Hawking’s chair has applied those mind-controlled technologies.

Today I came across the news “Brain waves can cut braking distances, researchers say“. The driver needs to wear a plastic cap with 64 electrodes covered in conductive gel to help the research. I wonder if the helmet of a concept bike cyclist will be like this.