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Introduction to GPSS

Updated 0900 Thursday 5th February 1998

GPSS is a Windows application intended for use within a sound-capable Notebook PC connected to a GPS satellite receiver carried within a car, or within a PC-compatible car computer system. It displays the cars position on a map and a voice speaks the position: "We are 25 miles west of London and 1.5 miles south east of Ascot"; and gives guidance: "destination is 300 yards ahead at your 12 o'clock". Direction is given as if to a fighter pilot. i.e. 6 o'clock is directly behind.

GPSS Symbols

With more detailed data, GPSS can provide Turn-By-Turn guidance, or 'Route Guidance Instructions' (RGI) as follows : "turn left at the crossroads" - with a suitable schematic screen image, showing a left pointing arrow at the crossroads. These RGI can be location specific : "turn right after the school on your left into King's Road" - with a picture of the place as seen from a few yards up the road.

GPSS can be used with mouse and keyboard, but can also be used with voice recognition to enable the car driver to keep his eyes on the road. It holds places such as eating places and petrol filling stations to answer questions from the driver such as, "Eating Place ?", with a response such as, "OK, the nearest eating place is Little Chef, on the A329, 1 mile behind us, at your 7 o'clock".

More detail on this Speech Interface may be seen by clicking here.

During 1997, GPSS spread rapidly overseas. In February '98 it was being used 'on the road' with at least one GPS receiver in over 70 countries. Mapping for these countries, along with the software itself, can be downloaded from this web site. Sunninghill Systems give this software away to the public as a means of contacting businesses.

GPSS is capable of many things in addition to use as a navigation aid within the car. Other applications described on these web pages include two way communication over Inmarsat-C, and the tracking of other vehicles from another vehicle or a fixed base.

Robin Lovelock believes that the Car-PC market will develop in three phases:

GPS and PC
The 'Do It Yourself' phase started within the UK in 1995, when GPSS started to appear regularly on PC Magazine CD-ROMs, and was publicised by Television programmes such as news coverage of the London Motor Show. Over a million free copies of GPSS have now been distributed, and many hundreds of enthusiasts have connected their GPS receivers to Notebook PCs. The main businesses to benifit are the Notebook PC and GPS product suppliers - and it is still early days. The Notebook PC suppliers have yet to exploit GPS to help sell their products - but watch what happens in the coming months: some have started to 'catch on' !

To fit any car

Products have started to appear which combine PC and GPS into one compact product, suitable to be installed into a vehicle. The first known to be available is the MCS-100 from A2S in the UK. This includes VGA colour TFT touch screen, 486 PC computer, GPS receiver and cellular telephone interface within the one TV-monitor-sized unit. They just need 12 volt power and a suitable location for the matchbox sized GPS antenna. They do not need additional equipment installed into the car, or to be wired into special wheel sensors. These products are currently being sold into niche markets such as freight haulage - but you can expect them to come down in cost and become a true consumer product.

In Lexus

Solutions built into the car are not new to the Japanese - they have been doing it for years. First Generation systems such as that within the Lexus Soarer were available years ago, and over two hundred have been independantly imported into the UK. These systems, designed before GPS could be trusted, and before the Microsoft/PC revolution really took off, are expected to evolve to more 'open' designs - and harness the potential of the new PC based products such as Internet data communications, speech recognition, and GPSS.

These pages tell you something about GPSS, but they are no substitute for trying out the GPS Software on your multimedia desktop PC, or better still, trying it out on the road with a sound-capable Notebook PC and a GPS receiver.

But please remember to drive with care.