Profile: Fugawi Touratel

Web 2.0 Software Converts Cell Phone Into GPS Device


The software, called Fugawi Touratel, uses Assisted GPS, so the phones
don’t need to have the functionality built in or be connected through
Bluetooth.


By Elena Malykhina / InformationWeek
December 19, 2007 04:35 PM

GPS marker Northport Systems on Wednesday launched software that turns non-GPS cell phones into outdoor navigation systems.

The software with an unusual name — Fugawi Touratel — is Web
2.0-based and can turn different cell phone models into navigation
systems with high-resolution U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps,
air photos, and urban photos, according to Northport.

Fugawi Touratel also serves up third-party location-based applications, such as U.S. streets maps, for a $3 monthly fee.

The software is compatible with cell phone models by LG Electronics, Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Samsung, and Sanyo, from carriers that include Alltel (NYSE: AT), Boost Mobile, and Sprint (NYSE: S). Northport plans to add support for additional carriers and cell phones in the near future.

Since the software uses Assisted GPS, the phones don’t need to
have the functionality built in or be connected through Bluetooth.
Users can see their actual position on maps, find nearby locations, or
use various GPS widgets for outdoor recreation such as hiking, mountain
biking, and fishing.

Users also don’t have to install client software because Fugawi Touratel works through an Internet connection. The fact
that it’s always connected to the Web is useful when receiving updates
without having to download new software. However, users are likely to
encounter problems accessing the application when they have spotty
network coverage, especially in remote places.

The demand for location-based services by mobile users and mandates by the U.S. government for Enhanced 911
capability will give rise to cell phones with built-in GPS. GPS-enabled
mobile phone shipments will increase from 109.6 million units in 2006
to 444 million units by 2011, according to research firm iSupply. By 2011, 29.6% of all mobile phones shipped will have GPS. As a comparison, only 11.1% of phones shipped in 2006 had GPS.

Even so, Northport isn’t the first company to come up with GPS software for cell phones. Garmin in October rolled out
Mobile XT, which pairs a smartphone’s built-in GPS with Garmin’s
software to create a full-featured navigation device that can take
users to any location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, or
Europe. It doesn’t require monthly fees or subscriptions and is priced
at $99.

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