German mobile phone operator T-Mobile Deutschland is offering one of the world's first mobile phone-based navigation systems using three different wireless technologies.
T-Mobile's NaviGate BlueKit makes use of GPRS (Global Packet Radio Service) mobile data, cordless Bluetooth and GPS (Global Position System) satellite technology, allowing customers to transform their mobile phones into car navigation systems.
The service, which launches in Germany today, will be available in other European markets in the second half of this year.
In the vehicle is a GPRS-enabled phone equipped with the NaviGate software, which users can install themselves. The phone connects to a small GPS receiver mounted in the vehicle via Bluetooth cordless technology.
When users enter a destination, that information is transmitted over the GPRS network to T-Mobile's traffic server, which calculates a route and sends the data back to the mobile phone. As users travel, they are tracked by the GPS system, which sends signals to the phone, activating voice messages and phone displays with route instructions.
T-Mobile subscribers can also choose to have near real-time traffic updates, with route alternatives, sent to their mobile phones. "This service, however, requires that users retain a GPRS connection after beginning their trip so that their handsets can be frequently updated with current traffic information," said company spokesman Husam Azrak.
Initially, NaviGate BlueKit software will be available for Nokia 3650 and 7650 phone only but other phone models will follow.
The cost of mapping a single route is €1.99. Applicable GPRS call fees come on top of that. To promote the new service, T-Mobile is offering the NaviGate BlueKit with a Nokia 3650 for €349.95.
The cost of the NaviGate BlueKit without a handset is €249.95. The kit also includes a wireless GPS receiver with battery and integrated electronic charging equipment, as well as a charger for the GPS receiver for the motor vehicle. The GPS receiver works for up to 10 hours when the battery is fully charged.
The NaviGate BlueKit is also attractive to motorcyclists, T-Mobile said.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service