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Answers to Questions

Last Updated 1200 Wednesday 19th May 1999

These pages may help to answer the basic questions :

* What is GPS ? (24th June 1997)
* Where do I get a GPS receiver ? (19th May 1999)
* Where do I get the GPS Software ? (19th May 1999)

Who wrote the Software ? Why is he giving the software away ?

* Robin, the Lovelock Family, Sunninghill Systems, and Sunninghill (23rd March 97)
* GPSS History - Ancient and Modern & Business Strategy (2nd March 97)
* How does Robin work with other Businesses ? (11th Sep 98)

Here are some more pages of answers :
* Problems Getting Your GPS Working ? (3rd Feb 97)
* What Computer for GPSS ? (24th June 97)

Something for the more technically inclined :
* Adding Your Own Maps and Places (3rd Feb 1999)
* GPSS Online Help File - Version 4.9 (19th May 1999)

Why have in-car navigation systems taken so long to arrive ?

The majority of high performance car navigation systems now operating in Japan, or in development in Europe, may be described as being of 'the first generation'. i.e. they do not rely on GPS, but use a sophisticated process of matching movement of the wheels with very accurate and complete map data.

It was originally thought that this approach would result in cheaper and more reliable solutions for in car navigation. Provision of map data of the required quality for 'map matching' is a formidable task - and organisations like Ordnance Survey in the UK are working on it - but this takes time.

Meanwhile technology races on: GPS went officially operational in the Summer of '95. The service is now reliable - even in the middle of London, and the Americans may soon switch off the 'error signal': All GPS receivers will switch overnight from 100 metre accuracy to nearer 5 metres.

It also makes less sense to develop a special computer for a navigation system: mass produced Notebook PC computers have more power and are becoming cheaper. Good software, which takes years to develop, is also available for these PC computers.

This 'next generation' of car navigation system simply use GPS and some form of PC computer. They do not require data of the detail and completeness needed for 'map matching' - only that required to display (or speak) useful information to the driver. e.g. a simple displayed map and locations such as hotels or petrol filling stations. They can also exploit other PC computer products such as speech recognition.

How can I Use GPSS with Voice Recognition ?

The GPSS software has been designed for use with voice recognition packages. This permits conversations such as the following between the driver and his computer - while he keeps his `eyes on the road':

driver computer

"where are we ?" "we are 25 miles west of London, in Ascot.. .. moving north on the B3020 .. our destination is 500 yards ahead at your 1 o'clock"

"eating place ?" "OK... the nearest eating place is Little Chef on the A329, 2 miles on our right at your 2 o'clock"

"search" "OK... the next nearest eating place is Public House 2.3 miles ahead at your 12 o'clock"

"destination" "Destination is Public House, 27 miles west of London and in Ascot"

"sleeping place ?" "OK.. the nearest sleeping place is The Berystede hotel and restaurant, 600 yards behind us at your 6 o'clock.. .. more information is available"

"tell me more" "The Berystede Hotel is Forte Heritage. The telephone number is ..." etc. (and a photograph of hotel appears)

Where can I buy speech recognition software ?

Speech recognition software suitable to run under Windows and emulate keyboard keystrokes is appearing from several sources. One of the least expensive is IN3 from Command Corp. in the USA at fifty dollars. This has been used with GPSS for several years. It is available on the Net Their fax is 001 404 813 0113 but they only sell on the Internet. Other voice recognition suppliers include Responsive Systems on 0171 6024107, GEC-Marconi Secure Systems on 01705 664966, IBM and Microsoft. You can expect other voice recognition packages to become available during 1996.

Please see the Links page to visit the IN3 Web Site.

What's so special about a `Talking Computer' ?

We communicate by speech. It is now technically and economically feasible to communicate by speech with computers. This is particularly important in cars where the driver should `keep his eyes on the road'. We also associate `personality' with the voice. Perhaps different computers will be given a voice according to the type of car and owner. What would you prefer: a posh butler, a sexy female voice, clipped male military, or west country yokel ? or perhaps you want it to sound like a computer, and speak like an American dalek ! Early versions of GPSS used text-to-speech software (as in the Soundblaster games like Dr Sbaitso) and sounded just like an American Dalek. The released versions of GPSS uses recorded speech for more natural sounding (British) English and Japanese voices. Robin anticipates alternative voices being offered in the future - in response to what users want. Text-to-speech software will also get better soon - as will voice recognition.

What other uses of GPSS are there ?

GPSS is now being used in a host of applications other than that for which it is primarily intended: use within a car, providing information to the driver and his passengers.

It is also being used for military, police and business applications which require vehicles to be tracked and displayed on maps. GPSS can be configured to operate on a PC connected to a radio or telephone modem, and track a number of vehicles. Communications from the vehicles may be based on mobile 'phone, radio, Inmarsat-C, or the Securicor Datatrak system - which provides position without using GPS.

GPSS can also be used in radio direction finding applications, to triangulate the position of radio sources from bearings received from radio direction finding systems.

GPSS has been modified to extend its use to 'in the air' on platforms that include light aircraft, helicopters and hot air balloons.

For more information on the range of applications to which GPSS can be applied, contact Robin or June Lovelock of Sunninghill Systems on phone/fax +44 1344 620775 or e-mail Robin on