Posts Tagged ‘GPS’

Nikon Camera GPS Patent Application

October 31, 2009

The Nikon Rumours web site collects information on patent applications Nikon has made. Here’s a recent post.

Searching patents is a good way to look at what companies are up to as they have to disclose quite a lot of information, albeit in legal jargon.

But patents are also about companies claiming technology territory and building a stock they can cross-license with others. And of course just because a company has a patent on something it does not mean they will make a product using it. Not soon, maybe not ever.

Having said that, Nikon filed an application recently for an integration of a GPS-enabled camera with digital maps. Here’s one of the images from the application:

The text of the patent is at the US Patent & Trademark Office site here. It’s application number is 20090268047.

I mention this one because it looks like Nikon is thinking the same way I was when I lamented here that my camera can show me where I am, but I am still lost. It’s some evidence that Nikon is continuing to invest in GPS enabled cameras. That’s good news.

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I Know Where I Am, But I’m Still Lost

October 10, 2009

I don’t have a good sense of direction. I get lost easily in my explorations of Thailand and with few people who speak English and many road signs only in Thai this can be a challenge.

Fortunately taxis are cheap and abundant, so I can always give in and take a taxi. Also Bangkok is a remarkably safe city from muggings and street crime so I’ve never felt in any danger.

BUT, even if I am lost my camera knows exactly where I am. The Nikon Coolpix P6000 has integrated GPS and most of the time it is remarkably accurate.

GPS Screen for the Nikon Coolpix P6000

GPS Screen for the Nikon Coolpix P6000

But a Lat / Long pair is useless to me. No Bangkok street map I have seen includes a Lat/Long grid.

I don’t want to carry a separate GPS device and I don’t have a smart phone that has built-in GPS and a mapping application to use the results.

It’s frustrating, but I cannot imagine Nikon extending their GPS equipped cameras to be a navigation tool.

I Can Walk on Water

September 13, 2009

Here’s the proof:

Walking on Water

Walking on Water

On Saturday the Bangkok weather was kind and I made my long anticipated trip to Thanon Tok at the end of the #1 bus line.

I uploaded the track log to Every Trail and then downloaded a KML file to Google Earth. This enabled me to show my path on Google Earth’s satellite images. Their images of this part of Bangkok are not great, but I assume they are accurate.

Even though I was out in the open (under a hot sun) on a clear day the Nikon Coolpix P6000 had a fairly large GPS error that in this screen shot made it look like I walked into the river. Of course I was on the pier to the right. (Beware, it’s very rusty and unsafe, even though it is used as a ferry dock).

The EveryTrail trip is here. There are more pictures (for a month or so) on PicasaWeb here.

The Bagkok Post has an article about Thanon Tok here. That’s what inspired me to travel to the end of the #1 bus line.

The Bangkok Post article explains:

Why is it called Thanon Tok? The answer is simple. If we walk on, we will fall [or tok in Thai] into the Chao Phraya River because the road ends at the river. Thanon Tok is the road’s colloquial name while Charoen Krung is its official name.

Now you know!

It was an interesting four mile (6.6km) walk, enlivened by three side trips to the River. I wish there was a path along the river bank but of course there are many properties, mostly businesses, right up to the river. Some old businesses are being replaced by expensive hotels and condominium complexes.

Keep Your P6000 Plugged In

September 12, 2009

One of the reasons why the Nikon Coolpix P6000 comes with an AC adapter rather than a battery charger may be the way its GPS system works.

Even when the camera is switched off it attempts to get or update a GPS fix. According to the manual

If Record GPS Data is set to On positioning will be done every 90 minutes when the camera is turned off. During positioning the power-on light will blink. The monitor will not light up. Positioning will cancel if three minutes pass and positioning cannot be done.

Nikon Coolpix P6000 User’s Manual (English) p 60.

This will drain the camera’s battery eventually. Thus if you leave the camera in its case and not plugged in you may take it out and find it has a flat battery.

I think this positioning while turned off should be a separate option from Record GPS Data. This is the option that records GPS data to the picture’s metadata. It’s logically separate from the “positioning while turned off” facility.

The latter has never worked for me. If the camera is in the apartment it will never get a fix. I tried leaving it by the window and it could not get a fix unless I held it out of the window. I think that’ll be true for most people.

I hope the upcoming P7000 keeps the GPS function but separates this feature in the user interface. I wouldn’t mind if they dropped it. For me “off” should mean “off” apart from keeping the clock running. I don’t want the thing flashing its lights and wasting electrons every 90 minutes.

Geotagged Photos to EveryTrail (2)

September 4, 2009

Here’s my “simple” method of getting geotags from my photos into a form that EveryTrail accepts. See here for why I need to do this.

I keep all my photos in a Lightroom database. My principal camera, the Nikon Coolpix P6000 adds geotag information to the photos whenever it can. For photos that aren’t geotagged I use Jeff Friedl’s add-in for Lightroom.

EveryTrail accepts tracklog information in a format called GPX – GPS Interchange Format. It’s XML with a defined schema. I found that I can use the LR/Transporter add-in for Lightroom to export a file in the correct format.

Here’s a screenshot of the LR/Transporter screen I use.

LR/Transporter Export Settings

LR/Transporter Export Settings

There is a standard header that defines the file then a line for each photo giving the latitude, longitude and date/time. Finally there’s a standard footer.

There’s no need to export a file per image in LR/Transporter – the summary at the end suffices.

You don’t need to export the actual photos – you can use LR/Transporter to export the metadata in this format my selecting “Export Metadata Using LR/Transporter…” from the Lightroom “File…Plug-in Extras…” menu.

Note that if you use Jeff’s GPS plugin you must write the shadow GPS data back to the file’s EXIF using the instructions in the add-in.

Here’s an example of the file produced by LR/Transporter:

GPX File from LR/Transporter

GPX File from LR/Transporter

The only problem is that EveryTrail expects dates to be in mm/dd/yyyy format and this export is in dd/mm/yyyy format.It would be great if LR/Transporter let you specify the date format.

It’s easy to do a global edit to change that before presenting the file to EveryTrail.

Notepad ++ Date Replace

Notepad ++ Date Replace

You wouldn’t believe how much easier this is than the multi-step approach I tried before using two file format converters. Thumbs up to LR/Transporter!

New Every Trail Trip

September 2, 2009

I created a new Every Trail trip from my Circumnavigation of Hua Lamphong Station, Bangkok.

Around Hua Lamphong Station at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Travel Community

EveryTrail Hua Lamphong Trip 2009-08-31

The process is sufficiently involved that I am too lazy to do it very often. That’s not Every Trail’s fault – I don’t have a GPS device so I have to emulate one using the geotag information from my photos.

A Walk in the Park

August 21, 2009

I’ve worked out a process to create trips on EveryTrail using the geocoding information from my camera. I’ll write another post on the process I developed.

Here’s the trip I described here – a walk around Benchasiri Park in central Bangkok.

A Walk in Benchasiri Park, Bangkok at EveryTrail

EveryTrail Benchasiri Park Walk

EveryTrail Benchasiri Park Walk

Map created by EveryTrail: Share and Plan your Trips

The Big Draw of a GPS Run – NYTimes.com

August 20, 2009

The Big Draw of a GPS Run – NYTimes.com.

I have been plotting maps of my travels on Picasa Web using the geotagged photos from my Nikon Coolpix P6000 and geotags that I added to pictures I took with other cameras.

For example, here is a map of a walk I took around Benchasiri Park in Bangkok.

PicasaWeb Map 2009-08-03 2

There’s a lake in the middle of the park but the Google Map does not show it.

I never thought of planning a route as a piece of art and then “drawing” it with my pictures such as is described in this article. It’s a nice idea, although I’d probably end up under a tuk-tuk or falling into a canal as I tried to follow my planned route precisely.

I looked at the site EveryTrail that is mentioned in the article. I was thinking of plotting my trip from Bangkok to Mahachai, Samut Prakan by train. I noted that they only have one Thailand train trip in their library. Wow, something new I can play with!

However …

EveryTrail’s assumption is that you have a tracklog file produced by a portable GPS unit. I don’t know the details but I think it is fundamentally a text file that includes a date / time and a lat/long pair.

With EveryTrail you import the tracklog and they plot it on a map for you. Then you can add photos later.

But I don’t have a tracklog, I just have the geotagged photos. Thus it’s hard for me to use EveryTrail. They give users a third option of plotting the route by hand, but where’s the fun in that?

It would be great if the Nikon Coolpix P6000 produced a tracklog. It only tells you where you are when you take a picture. GPS units produce tracklog entries continuously. That’s how the PhotoTrakr works.

Now, if the Nikon Coolpix P6000 was an open system, perhaps running Android, then I could get an app that enhances the camera’s functionality. But no, the Nikon is a closed system so that isn’t an option. Annoying.

The other approach is to make a tracklog from a set of geotagged photos in Lightroom.

I can use the LR/Transporter addin to process a set of files and write a summary file with the GPS information. It does not understand Jeff Friedl’s shadow GPS data, but it’s an Export plugin. Thus I can use Jeff’s “GPS Injector” to put the data into the file for LR/Transporter to extract.

Then I have to use a couple of utilities to get the file into a format that EveryTrail understands. I am experimenting with a utility called “GPS Utility” that will read a CSV file and export a file in GPX interchange format.

Then I can import that to EveryTrail and Bob’s your uncle!

Cyclographing with the PhotoTrackr « The colorful wolf

August 18, 2009

http://rheide.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/cyclographic-with-the-phototrackr/

PhotoTrackr

This looks like a neat toy for Geotagging if your camera does not support it. You carry the PhotoTrackr around and it records your location. You then mate that with the pictures you took and their software geocodes the photos, interpolating as necessary.

Carp: Why not PhotoTracker? Did Flickr start the habit of omitting a perfectly respectable letter ‘e’? The have Organizr and so on like it is their trademark.

I wonder if it produces a track log that is compatible with Jeff Friedl’s Geocoding Plugin for Lightroom. I am lazy to use new software if I don’t have to.

PhotoTrackr is made by a company called GiSTEQ, based in Brea, California. They have five models ranging in price from US$99 to US$169. It appears they don’t have a distributor in Thailand – the nearest is Singapore.

The device has a vibration sensor that switches the device on when it senses movement. Otherwise it is in sleep mode. They claim Time to First Fix (TTFF) of less than one minute from a cold start. That’s a lot better than my Nikon!

Of course I don’t need the device – I always take my Nikon Coolpix P6000 with me and I can geocode pictures taken with other cameras with reference to the geocoded ones from the Nikon. That is a bit of a pain and this solution would be easier but I have other things to spend my money on.

One possible issue is that according to the comparison chart on the GiSTEQ site here only the two most expensive models support geocoding RAW files.

The GiSTEQ site links to a very detailed review from PocketGPSWorld.com. I found this picture of the device in use amusing. I think the author bought his clothes on Sukhumvit Road.

PhotoTrackr in use

Another GPS Enabled Camera Released: Digital Photography Review

August 14, 2009

Samsung unveils CL65 wireless compact with 1152k LCD: Digital Photography Review.

Great! The more cameras that are released the better tools there will be out there for managing and displaying geotagged pictures.

I like the little tweak that

The ST1000 will display the city name and region on the camera’s LCD screen, providing users with a real-time display of the location where they’re taking a photo, as well as a handy reference for when they are reviewing images on the camera’s LCD screen.

It must be a reverse geocode lookup to a server or have a database on-board. I’d like to see how well that works in practice. Having “Bangkok, Thailand” on the display is nice but it would be better to go down a level to the khet (district) – Din Daeng in my case. When I was out yesterday I was on the border between Wang Thong Lang and Lat Phrao and I would have liked to have known.

However there’s no standardization on how that is displayed worldwide which is, I think, why they limit it to the city. Jeff Friedl’s GPS plugin has a lot of trouble with this. That reminds me: I must write to him with examples of where I think he makes mistakes with Bangkok addresses.

Maybe the internet connectivity of this camera is useful. In contrast with my Nikon Coolpix P6000 which only works with Nikon’s proprietary site My Picture Town. I have never tried it. Restricting the camera thus is a waste of precious recources: grams and cubic millimetres. They had to find space for a full sized ethernet jack as well as writing a while load of software to connect the thing.

I am suspicious of the Samsung’s ultra compact design with its folded optics. I will be very interested if DP Review do a full review of the camera.