An improved geo-tagged image and live GPS tracking method

You might remember that on the Solar Tour last year I used RoboGeo and a Garmin Etrex to enable an internet based track and tagged photo stream. The Etrex would do the tracking and every time I stopped I would download the track, to a UMPC, download the images I’d taken and run them through RoboGeo which would match the timestamps on the images to the position at that time according to the track. I would then export a kml file which would be uploaded to my website and automatically pulled into my Google Map. It was about the easiest way to do it then (see my day-plan for more info on it) but a lot has changed now!

Recently I bought a Nokia N82 smartphone which has built in GPS. Google Maps has been great fun to play with on a phone and even more fun was the beta release of Nokia Maps 2.0 which added satellite imagery, internet search, live traffic and a pedestrian mode. The other application I found was the Nokia Sports tracker. This phone-based applciation does the same job as my old Etrex in that it logs data and shows statistics pretty much as the Etrex did. The best part of it though is that you can authorise the software to send data to an online Sportstracker account, live! Users accessing the current activity on the website can then see your location in real time overlayed on a Google Map. Fantastic! Once you’ve finished your activity the program then goes through your photos looking at the timestamps and offers to upload them all with GeoTags to the same Sportstracker service. With a few simple steps, the track is automatically overlayed with image pointers. Groovy!

Here’s a public ‘track’ I made on SportsTracker.
http://sportstracker.nokia.com/nts/workoutdetail/index.do?id=74767

With one more step, you can export the KML file and import it into a Google MyMap thus breaking it out of the Nokia Sportstracker website and making it easier to share and add mroe info too. There’s one more thing though. I didn’t quite fancy my images being stored at the sportstracker website so I’m using Shozu to auto-tag and upload to Flickr. Using a great tip I picked up from TheNokiaBlog I found out how you can auto-link a geofeed from Flicker and have it show up live on a Google Map. The only thing missing is being able to auto-export the track in the same, live, way from Sportstracker online, or the Sportstracker app on the phone, to Google Maps. I’m sure that will come soon though as it seems like an obvious way to make live people-location mashups and create even more excitement over the location aware possibilities with Nokia phones.

Here’s a map I prepared earlier!

View Larger Map

I’m sure that we’ll see Nokia combining Maps2.0 and some form of live tracking soon. It would be so much fun to see where your friends are and what they’re doing. Can you imagine that in a very short time we’ll be able to link this into live personal video too for the ultimate GeoVideo experience!

One problem with all this is that it takes a lot of battery power from the phone. Where I was getting 20 hours from two AA batteries, the Nokia N82 will last for 3 hours if you set it up correctly using lower-power GSM-based data. If you use 3G data, your battery life will suffer even more and you’ll see soemthing less than 1.5 hours. You might need to take a spare phone with you or turn off the live upload feature which will give you all-day tracking. Even if you upload every time you take a break, its a lot easier than using the manual process I was using before.

Goodbye Garmin Etrex! Goodbye Robo Geo!

  • Rodfather

    That’s convenient for Nokia users.
    I’ve been trying to look into live tracking w/ google maps for a while.
    There’s GPS Gate http://gpsgate.com/ but I think to have others track you live, they have to sign up for an account and then given permission.
    Another was comvu.com when I had the Blackjack phone paired up with a bluetooth gps receiver.
    If you use IE, you can watch live streaming video plus live tracking through the browser.
    For geotagging, I’d just love to have a camera with GPS and wifi builtin to automatically post images to flickr with the geotag info already in it.