Cellphone Maps For Mobile Users

By Roland Piquepaille

Giving directions was one of the first successful graphical applications for Web users. Then navigation systems appeared in cars even if they still are expensive. Now, a UK-based company, m-spatial, is delivering maps to your cellphone. IT-Analysis.com has the story.

Pedestrians don't need to know where jams are or when to keep on motorways to travel faster. They need the shortest walking distance between two locations. On a device as generic as a mobile phone, they also need a simple way to specify the start and destination locations, and access the directions presented.
A Cambridge, UK-based company, m-spatial, is addressing this challenge with a pedestrian navigation service, MapWay.
The maps are designed to fit the small screen of a mobile phone. The user can view a sequence of maps each tailored to the user's phone, indicating the directions from starting point to destination. At the start of the journey, the user can employ a 'FindMe' feature that makes use of location information provided by the phone network to start the journey off, on the right foot, so to speak.
The destination location can be searched for by address and postcode in a similar way to many online mapping services. However this service is built on a database of more than 20 million building locations. This allows the user to search for and specify a particular landmark, such as restaurant, station or pub.

You can watch a demo of the system on m-spatial website. And here is an image of MapWay in action in London (Credit: m-spatial ltd)

MapWay map on your cellphone

The MapWay service is available to Vodafone customers living in Europe. However, I'm a little bit skeptical about the success of this navigation system: there are simply too many characters to type on your cell phone.

Source: Rob Bamforth, Bloor Research, for IT-Analysis.com, August 5, 2003

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