Josh Barratt's Blog

A collection of uploaded thoughts

Exploring the world with GPS August 1, 2005

On our recent England Trip, we, as I mentioned, really appreciated having a GPS navigation system.

The one place we didn’t take it was while travelling by foot around London. The most overwhelming thing for me about England, coming from such a “young” country, is how much history there is everywhere. Even the most non-historic looking buildings often have fascinating stories attached to them. We took a river trip down from the Tate Modern to Greenwich, and the guide on the boat tossed off various observations as we went – probably one note per 500 buildings we passed along the way. What about the rest of them?

I think technology is going to give us a whole new way to explore history of cities and buildings. A combination of this: The ["Node Eplorer"](, which uses GPS to give you tourist-style information about places your are, and this: ["FotoNav"]( which uses the parameters of an image alone to determine where you are.

So soon it will be possible (assuming someone puts together the database) to point your device at a building or landmark you find interesting, press a button, and get a whole story right on your little screen. Real-world hitchiker’s guide, indeed. And by being able to get data from wireless sources, it can happen without the development of holographic storage.

Update: Looks like I presaged the ideas in William Gibson’s “spook country” here a bit, as well as the fact that these features are being released in cell phones shortly. Cool!