There’s probably a very limited audience for this but FBF thinks it’s pretty cool so will share it anyway.
Until a few months ago, Google required that one upgrade to Google Earth Plus in order to use a GPS device with Google Earth. However, Google Earth 5.0 was introduced in February 2009 and incorporated for free most of what Google Earth Plus had offered for a premium, including GPS services.
This means you can how run Google Earth on your laptop, connect your GPS device to the computer and monitor your movement on Google Earth in REALTIME while on the road. I’ve got a dinky little Garmin hand held device with a screen smaller than most modern cellphones. I usually pretty much know where I’m going anyway and the GPS is just another toy so it’s no big deal. Now, the sky’s the limit on the size of your screen. There’s got to be some fellow with a Winnebago somewhere who’s got a 47″ LCD monitor hooked to the video out of his laptop which is connected to a GPS. Talk about not ever having to ask for directions again.
Another interesting feature of the realtime tracking is that an internet connection is NOT essential. If one has the foresight to track the route in Google Earth prior to making the journey AND has set the option to store the largest cache possible, the maps will be in the cache and while Google Earth will give a couple of error messages about 1) not being able to connect to the server so will use cache and 2) another nag about not being to access the server, the realtime display will continue as long as the cache contains maps of the route taken. Of course, this will probably not work on a trip such as the one Al made to escape the ASEAN conference though updating the cache each night along the way would help.
This is very nice for those of us who don’t have unlimited budgets for mobile internet access or are outside say, the Hutch CDMA coverage area.
I don’t know what happens when one is using mobile internet access and moves from one cell to another. The cache may help here and may not.
At any rate, this takes GPS usage to another level and we can even do it here in Hua Hin. FBF thinks that’s more than pretty cool.
A couple of privisos on the above mentioned use of a laptop in an automobile.
- Having a laptop displaying maps in the passenger seat of a moving car is not very safe, especially if you’re already watching a DVD in the dashboard player and/or are talking on a cell phone.
- You better have the mother of all batteries in the laptop as not only are you powering the laptop but also the GPS and mobile internet device, if used.
FBF is now looking for a mount for his laptop or, alternatively, a small LCD display that might be more easily mounted on the dash or console AND a converter/power supply that could power the laptop from the cigarette lighter socket.
For more information on using Google Earth with your GPS device click here.