Finally a Device to Track Anything Like a Magpie Does

Handley

Calum Handley, Raul Oaida and Derek Handley

I’ve known Derek Handley and his family for a long time, since a young group of entrepreneurs won the NZ Wireless Data Forum’s mobile app competition (I was President at the time, helped conceive and judge  it) many many years ago with a concept of a mobile gambling app where fans could make bets with each other at a sporting match (which would have been a winner if it wasn’t for monopolies and gambling laws at the time) and formed The Hyperfactory. I had the pleasure of watching them (from a distance) develop some amazing campaigns, sell, create Snakk Media and  get involved in many other projects.

Some of the most exciting ideas they had didn’t happen for various reasons, which is all part of the game of being an entrepreneur, but in others they were true pioneers. What I most admired about them was that they had true grit and passion for their work and for making a difference. I remember visiting their offices many times in the early days and I can tell you that they really put in the hours and obstacles were just stepping stones. While I was trying to support entrepreneurs, they were changing the future, from New Zealand.

Obviously New Zealand got too small very quickly and they had to go to the USA so they could scale and find the real money, but they never lost their passion for making a better future.

MagpieI was delighted to see stories in the NZ Herald and  Stuff this week about their new venture Magpie which is about a really low cost solution for tracking everything from your keys to more important things like your favorite guitars or other items that don’t feature communications.

As you know I a very passionate about GPS tracking and have written dozens of blogs and curated dozens of stories on the topic over the years. About 4 years ago I seriously considered setting up a distribution business for tracking solutions, but I didn’t have the capital to scale quickly and didn’t really feel many of the products or systems I saw were well suited to the needs of my target markets.

The closest to Magpie is probably Tile, but it is Bluetooth based and requires a critical mass of mobile phones running the app in order to locate the missing item, so for example, if someone stole a guitar, you could only locate it if it was within 10 meters of a mobile phone running the app. Probably a good proposition in large urban environments, if that’s where your lost item ends up, but otherwise, for example in a country like New Zealand, I wasn’t convinced the mass of users were there. I know a lot of geeks in New Zealand and I haven’t come across anyone who has a Tile and they are the early adopters.

I emailed Tile and asked them about New Zealand. To their credit they responded very quickly, but it was the company line of millions of devices in loads of countries.

So when I found out about the Magpie Kickstarter campaign, I didn’t hesitate to put some money in the pot and pre-purchase some units, because I know that these guys know how to make something like this work. I have no idea what their harvest plan is, but I absolutely love their model, both the product concept and the purchase model. So does everyone else given they got 400% of the funding they were chasing in under 3 days.

I’ll be watching this with interest. I spend a lot of my time thinking about changing the future, these are the sort of people that make the future and make the world a better place. I recommend you watch this space

Posted in #TheGPSMadeMeDoIt, Best GPS, best GPS trackers, Best Practice GPS, Bluetooth, Catch Crooks with GPS, cheap gps, Cool Tech, Future, Futurist, Gadgets, GPS bait, GPS features, GPS MAde Me Do IT, GPS Maps, GPS Pet Tracking, GPS Player Tracking, GPS Police Tracker, GPS Track People, GPS Tracker, GPS Tracking, GPS Traxcking, IoT, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Servces, Location Based Services, Location Based Services for Health, Map apps, missing children, missing people, Mobile Apps, mobile friendly, people tracking, Personal GPS Trackers, Police tracking, Sports GPS, theft, top apps, Track and Trace, track children, Track parolees, Tracking Apps, Tracking Children, Tracking criminals, tracking data, Tracking kids, tracking missing peopl, Tracking pets, Tracking staff, Tracking stolen property | Leave a comment

Are Flying Cars an Option

I love the concept, especially electric and low or no noise, but the last thing I want to do is look up at the clouds and see hundreds of ‘air cars’ instead of clouds and flocks of birds.

I suspect that this is a great replacement for helicopters, potentially a lot safer, but as a mode of transport in cities with a million plus residents, doesn’t sound quite so likely.

As a mode of tourism transport they would be awesome. I’m off to book my flight now.

 

Posted in Autonomous cars, commuting, Concept Car, congestion, Cool Tech, Driverless Cars, driverless vehicles, Foresight, future car, Future Technology, new cars, the future, tourism tech, tourist marketing, traffic, Transport, Travel | Leave a comment

Mobility as a Service

MaaSMost mornings as I ignore my car navigation directions and go to work the fast way, I drive past the same yachts in a marina, which are mostly all there in the middle of summer and on the weekends too and I think about the waste.

They say that most cars are used 3% of the time, which is the argument for fewer cars and a better transport model. That model is fundamentally about MaaS. An example is being able to go to your computing device, probably your mobile, setting in your destination (it already knows where you are) and being given a range of options which might be a combination of personal modes of transport through to public transport, rideshare, walking, cycling.

The app would let you book and pay for the service that best meets your needs, for example you might need to drop the kids of at school on the way, or you may not be feeling sociable, or perhaps you’re on a tight budget. The app is ‘intelligent’ and knows about traffic conditions and can give you a  variety of options to choose from. It’s intelligent and learns your patterns and knows where you live and work and places you frequent. You make your selection and are on your way.

Your car is one of your most expensive assets and depreciates in value the minute you have paid for it (or signed up to a finance plan which is even worse, paying interest on an asset that is losing value before you have even used it).

claesI use the analogy of the yacht because it is not dissimilar. We built and owned a family yacht. That’s her on the left. My parents ended up living on her which made it good value for a time, but in the end when they moved on-shore it was idle and none of us had the time or money to maintain her and consequently she depreciated about 80%. They say a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into and whilst she was awesome, so are the new yachts that you can rent or timeshare at your local Marina.

For less than our annual insurance bill when she was new, you can go and rent the very latest 45 foot yacht (she was 54 feet) and hop on board an almost new craft in mint condition. Go out and sail for a couple of weeks anywhere in the world, jump off at the end and go enjoy the stories and photos. No cleaning, worn sails, engine maintenance, hull cleaning, painting, marina or mooring fees.

So why wouldn’t you do the same with your car? If you want to go on a driving holiday, rent the latest and greatest with a little of the cash you saved from not owning one. Use public transport, rideshare or whatever is appropriate.

The main reason is that the systems aren’t here yet, but one way or another they are coming. There are a lot of hurdles to jump but there are disruptive businesses on the way and existing enterprises are re-thinking how they can profit from the bow wave instead of being drowned because they can’t compete.

Posted in Best GPS, Best Practice GPS, Big Data, Bus Apps, Car Technology, car tracking, carpool, cars, congestion, connected cars, driving, driving app, future car, Future Technology, GPS Car Nav, GPS Problems, GPS Test, IoT, ITS, Maas, mobile travel apps, Mobility as a Service, nav apps, Nav Maps | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Avoid the Traffic on Waitangi Weekend

The NZTA have a couple of fantastic services for long weekends and public holidays called Holiday Hotspots. I use it every long weekend when I go away and barring people having accidents, I enjoy near normal driving speeds and even the bottlenecks are pretty good.

hhYou can find it here and it is responsive so you can use it on your mobile as well as on a tablet or computer. Or you can go to www.nzta.govt.nz and click on Traffic and Travel. You’ll find loads of information there for this and future trips.

hhpuhoiThere are different ways to get to the same place, but if you click on a button or the name of the place, you can dig in for more information. If you hover over the table with your mouse, or tap and hold on your mobile device you will find even more info on the tables.

This is a brilliant service for Waitangi Weekend particularly because it is a complex weekend with celebrations in key places that makes some of the patterns different from normal holiday weekends, for example heading north a lot of people already left last night, possibly going to the far north for the Treaty celebrations. In other areas a lot are going away on the Friday or the Saturday.

Some of the travel patterns are different based on how far people typically travel. So I recommend if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic, visit this page and have a great drive like I usually do. My time is valuable and my car was not designed to stop-start. The parking lots we often experience are because people don’t plan ahead. It’s caused by people who just get in their cars and go. Imagine if everyone in Auckland tried to drive North and South at the same time?

otmwaitangiI want to quickly tell you about another free product that I and many of my friends enjoy called OnTheMove in case you haven’t heard about it yet. It is a free email subscription service where you can register and identify what route you are traveling, what days and what times, and it will send you emails if anything occurs during the trip that might cause you a problem.

Imagine for example if you subscribed to start getting alerts an hour before you left and there was a serious crash between Auckland and Wellsford, you could avoid it by taking SH16 instead of SH1.  You can even subscribe to regional alerts. It works on your mobile as well as your other devices. You can use it once, you can use it every day, you can have multiple routes, you can even monitor a region and plan visits to different locations based on any traffic events..

Use these simple tools this weekend for your road trip and you might just find that you have more time at your destination and less in the traffic. If you tell your friends and colleagues, it’s even better because the more people that plan their travel, the less congested it gets and of course they will get the same good experience you will enjoy. That’s because we cause the congestion when we get in our cars.

So how about giving these tools a try and letting me know what you think? Please note that any comments I make on my blogs are totally my own opinions and do not in any way represent my employer.

Posted in car accidents, car crash, congestion, Crash, drivers, driving, driving app, Good travel apps, holiday traffic, Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS, location based apps, long weekend, mobile holiday apps, Mobile Maps, Motoring, real time traffic, Route Optimisation, RTTI, safer driving, safer journeys, Tourism, Tourism apps, tourism tech, traffic, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, traffic demand, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, Travel, Travel Apps, Travel Information, Vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tesla Alerts Driver of Impending Crash

This is the first time I have seen a domestic crash warning in action in a normal car, not a test track or artificial situation. These people were driving in the Netherlands when they heard an incongruous little beep. Hopefully they knew what it meant, but the cruise control also started breaking just before the crash occurred.

As long as the technology is reliable and not prone to false alarms it seems fantastic. The reason I mentioned false alarms is the practice of lane splitting which is now normal for most motorcycle riders.

Yesterday on my way home I made room on the motorway for what looked like a Harley VRSCDX V-Rod 10th Anniversary edition motorcycle. There was enough room so I made him a gap and let him pass. What happened after that was pretty scary. This great looking 1250cc bike looks like a lot of fun to ride on the open road, but the guy riding it was squeezing between cars and trucks that in a number of cases appeared not to know he was there.

It’s a wonder he didn’t crash on a number of occasions. I don’t know f he was inexperienced with the bike, but it was too big to just slalom between the vehicles he was overtaking. It was as though he had to fight the bike every inch of the way.

Based on what I saw on the video above, I would expect that riding to have set off the Tesla alarm 3 or 4 times.

I have to say I am also surprised at the little beep from the Tesla. I’d expect something a little more “warning Will Robinson”. If you’re listening to music, in the middle of a conversation or otherwise not attuned to the sound and then your car started braking, you might be inclined to override the cruise control and accelerate into the carnage. I’m assuming that you can override it because anyone who has done an advanced drivers course knows that sometimes you need to accelerate to avoid an event, not brake.

Nevertheless, job well done, collision averted and the Tesla passengers are probably fans for life and maybe a little famous. I’m sure the media and Tesla would pay for footage and interviews. This will certainly help sell cars.

Posted in Autonomous cars, bikes, car accidents, car crash, drivers, driving, future car, Future Technology, Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS, LiDAR, location based apps, Motoring, new cars, real time traffic, safer driving, safer journeys, safety, Tesla, Traffic Information, Transport | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

You may not want to watch this video, but it could save a life from driver distraction.

I’ve written a lot of blogs about driver distraction lately. It’s the season to be jolly, but it’s hectic, busy, stressful and very easy to lose concentration for a brief moment.

I have lost close friends through driver distraction, most of them (not all) were innocent victims, doing everything right, but they are no longer with us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas Day for our family starts at the cemetery where we visit friends including a teenager who was an awesome human being, but will never grow up. He was a passenger in a vehicle the driver should not have been anywhere near. He was a great friend of the family and would have made a great father and husband. I will never forget sitting at his home, holding his cold hand after he returned from the funeral parlour and the solid outpouring of grief that continued for days and we still struggle with at times.

This compilation video from the Transport Action Commission in Victoria is the toughest watch I have ever seen. It is a compilation of 20 years of Australian safety videos, trying to reduce needless deaths on the road.

Christmas is coming and I am hoping that none of you will be grieving for a loved one that isn’t going to be there because of bad decisions on someone’s part. If you are still hurting badly from the loss of a loved one, don’t watch the following video. If you don’t watch the video, have a read of my blog from yesterday. There are plenty of things that you can do or stop doing that might extend your life.

Posted in accidents, car accidents, car crash, car safety, Christmas Dinner, distracted driving, DistractedDriving, driver behavior, driver distraction, holiday traffic, Motoring, People, rubberneckers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

13 Ways Driving to Distraction May Stop You or Others Enjoying Christmas This Year

It’s December and we’re all talking about Christmas, family lunches, parties and the importance of enjoying each other’s company after a long year.

I want to talk about how you can drive yourself to distraction such that there is a high risk that you, a loved one or a total stranger might not get to the family or other Christmas party because of a single moment of inattention. Latest stats I saw, showed that the driver represented less than half of the people killed or injured where driver distraction was a factor.

Here are some ways that people have been killed or seriously injured and many of these things happen every day. And watch the short videos at the end. You might find them entertaining, but I guarantee a lot of people didn’t see the funny side.

  1. Being tired or fatigued. What happens when you are fatigued, come to a green light at a controlled intersection and just haven’t got the reaction time to react to the guy who runs the red light  and T-Bones you.
  2. Holding a phone to your ear and driving with one hand. I’ve said it before, we humans can’t multi-task (one of my colleagues said except women:). My wife was sitting at a red light at an Auckland motorway off ramp. She turned her head when she heard the screech of brakes. She was craning her neck to see what was coming and saw the van driver, one hand on his phone and one on the steering wheel, with not enough hands to avoid slamming straight into her. She could see the horror in her eyes. Then she dealt with the whiplash, headaches and pain for about 2 years after. He apologised….
  3. Eating hot food and dropping it on your lap. Many Kiwis will have memories of wearing shorts and dropping the guts out of a steaming hot meat pie or a coffee on their lap while driving. Do you remember the feeling of the burn on your skin and did you stay calmly focused on the road ahead?
  4. When I was commuting on the motorway (I now use arterials, every day I saw people eating cereal, yoghurt and other foods while driving. The good news is the fender benders tend not to be very bad, but I have a couple of questions. If one hand is on the bowl and another is manipulating the spoon, how many hands do you have left to control the car? Of course if this is during peak time it’s just as likely that the minor nose to tail will involve not only 4 or 5 vehicles, but delay thousands of people from getting to work because of the consequent congestion. How would you like to put your hand up and go on TV news that night and say “sorry for making you all late for work and causing 10’s of thousands of dollars in damage, but I was hungry.”?
  5. Putting on make-up. Tell me you haven’t seen them. One hand on the compact, one on the applicator and looking into the visor mirror. I would never do it, but I’ve certainly been tempted to suddenly brake, or slam on my horn while they are applying their lippy. Of course if they crash then it would be my fault, so I just do it in my imagination while focus on the road ahead:)
  6. Changing the track or station on the car entertainment system or your mobile. This week I’ve heard 3 people mention Spotify, changing tacks, liking and saving them, adding them to a list, looking for an album or going to the artist radio to name a few of the things you can do. Our entertainment systems are becoming more and more feature packed because that’s what customers want. By all means let your passengers be entertained, but your job is to get yourself and them to their destinations safely. It’s also interesting reading the 2016 Ministry of Transport statistics that show the number of people injured or killed in accidents where driver distraction was not a factor and who either weren’t the driver or in many cases weren’t even in the vehicle!
  7. An appropriate etiquette that most of us have been trained to do is to look at the person you are speaking to. This is very important in a normal conversation, but unless the conversation is to die for, forget convention and keep the conversation simple. Want to have a deep and meaningful, pull over and have a coffee or save it till later.
  8. Reaching for something. The girl described in the video from the book One Split Second, died when her (probably very good driver) reached over for a napkin. She came from a very close family and was on her way home from university for Thanksgiving. Imagine that Thanksgiving weekend. A totally innocuous little action that most people wouldn’t think twice about took a life and changed lives irrevocably.
  9. Talking on a handsfree phone. You’re saying, “but I have both hands on the phone.” True, but at least half of your attention is on that phone call. You may be a good driver, but what if the person cutting a corner coming in the opposite direction isn’t. Perhaps they are from another country where they are driving on the wrong side of the road. On Friday I was on a road trip and watched the driver and passenger in a campervan both pointing at the large screen nav unit on their dash. How much of the driver’s attention was on the vehicle he had rented and wasn’t used to driving?
  10. Ever had to turn around to control children or pets? If it’s serious, pull over and stop the car. If not, leave it.
  11. Being emotionally upset or angry. Ever thought of how many people who are extremely angry or upset go for a drive? Whether they drop the lead foot and screech away or simply drive off through a haze of tears, focussed on the unfairness of the world, how prepared are they for the unexpected? Remember a lot of crashes don’t happen because of something you were doing, but because you couldn’t respond to something else that happened on the road in time. We don’t want to make a bad or sad situation worse.
  12. One I hadn’t thought about as much, but is common, is looking at scenery, as someone mentioned to me on Monday, summer has arrived and people are wearing more revealing clothes which causes distraction for urban drivers and in waterfront areas or holiday resorts. You don’t want to be that idiot who crashes their car in front of an attractive person they couldn’t keep their eyes off. This doesn’t exactly present you in the light of one of the more advanced of the species.
  13. Rubbernecking. I thought I’d leave this for last. You make up your own mind if these people were distracted or not. So many people are killed, injured or spend a lot of money at the panelbeater, simply because what was happening on the other side of the road stopped them from paying attention to their own side of the road.

I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas. I hope that you will think about these things and talk to others about it. As I mentioned in a previous blog, a British survey identified that 2 million British people, sitting next to a driver holding a phone and talking on it would say nothing. I was stunned. Is that you? Is that phone call worth your life?

Posted in car crash, distracted driving, DistractedDriving, rubberneckers | 1 Comment