Next Generation in-car Navigation…

What happens when you cross the Google earth satellite image database, an ‘always on’ vehicle internet connection similar to what is used in Apples iPhone, and the vehicles GPS position?

This is the visualization challenge I set myself one day after enthusing about the rapid progress of Google Earth to a friend. If you’ve played with Google Earth for a while, you know that you can not only move around using a ‘birds-eye- view of the satellite image, but you can tilt the image until you are actually at ground level. 

Then, with a bit of tricky mouse work, you can actually navigate through a real landscape as if you were driving. When you add some driving directions, a lovely purple line appears, showing you where to drive, and conveniently poping up the driving directions as you progress along your route. I took a short virtual drive from my home to my workplace to test out this concept. It turned out to be way cool…

Actually, hovering about 400 feet off the ground seemed to give you the best mix of clarity of the immediate neighbourhood, without actually sacrificing the sensation of more or less being in that actual location. Here’s an idea of the sort of view you would get while navigating.

View of my street showing your street location, and turn and street information


How could all of this work? Well, as you drive, your car’s GPS communicates real time information to some custom software. This software in turn logs into the Google Earth database synchronizes the GPS position of your vehicle with the onscreen satellite image, and the zoom and tilt view that you’ve chosen to use.

In terms of data quantity – a vehicle driving at say 70mph, with a always on internet connection, would provide more than enough time to download the required satellite imagery. Buffering of the images along your route would be done in advance, to either reduce the bandwidth requirement, or make up for potential breaks in the cellphone net that provides the internet data stream 

The system could possibly also ‘record’ a journey in real time, in order to give a ‘visual direction file’, that can be saved (ie. the GPS track of an actual or navigation generated journey, and given to friends as a preview of the route to their home or a meeting place.  Your friends could download this journey from your car’s online system, and ‘pre-play’ the visual directions of the journey in order to familiarize themselves with the journey they  are about to make.

Using Overlays 
Overlays sourced from the Geographic Web database would indicate key reference points on the route, to make navigation easier.

For a major auto manufacturer to take on this solution, an alliance with the geographic web provider like Google, and a partnership with telecommunications provider that provides realtime data feed to the vehicle for the data synchronization. Ford has partnered with Microsoft with their ‘Sync’ product, I’ve heard its a good product but I’m not sure if it integrates navigation in any way. A GM partnership with Google could revitalize the GM brand segment with it’s existing proprioritory Onstar offering towards the Google savy  generation (late x and y generation).

 This generation is the first one that has never known a world without ubiqutous electronic devices, and they are now buying their first vehicles. Thus, the similarity to video game concept is crucial. Current navigations systems are rather ‘adult’ in their approach to map display and functionality. The video game generation needs instant immersion in the system.

When you put directions in the system, it could be even programmed to zoom in on your current location, like Google earth at startup. This intensifies the feeling of ‘globalization’ of the system, and the video game like attractiveness of the navigation interface.

A ‘Safe driver’ view could provide a slightly zoomed out view of the road ahead – alerting to the driver to potential environmental hazards such as hidden driveways or unexpected bends, hundreds of meters down the road. Potentially, a zoomed out, at a glance view of the satellite picture of the road ahead could contribute much more to safe driving that the array of detection type radar systems being developed by Mercedes and other automakers – at potentially significantly reduced cost in on-car hardware and sensors – and significantly more day to day useability

Safe driver view showing potential hazards within the next quarter mile.


Navigation View


A preset route could be buffered within the car’s memory, so that if the online connection was broken due to network breaks (or to reduce tranmission overhead) the visual display would not be interupted. The GPS location of the vehicle would synchonise with the buffered version of the satellite imagery and the data objects, rather than a real time version. Some amount of buffering would be standard – but just like Google Earth works today, the

Zooming out, you can search for restaurants in the vicinity of your route, and by using Geographic web content, select the screen to dial the restaurant using the navigation systems inbuilt functionality.

People location: Friends can turn on their ‘find me’ functionality to allow their friends to know where they are. When ‘Find me’ is turned on, their car or phone transmits their GPS location. Another driver can dial in your location to navigate to where you are, using your destination as the location. Obviously, if two people are both driving, the system would be recalculating the  


Dubai as Neuroplastic civilization

Dubai is becoming increasingly visible these days. Since my wife and I considered moving there for a while, and had a marvellous holiday checking out what was going on, I’ve been following what is occuring there with interest. More than any other city in the world, Dubai represents some new in the development of cities and civilizations. 

The 21st century city is more likely to resemble an aerotropolis than a metropolis. The metropolis grew from the industrial manufacturing age, with the focus being heavy industry and its associated infrastructure.  Now that whole cities like Dubai are being built around information, media, tourism and finance, they are more likely to be conceived as a global hub that centers around intelligence based industry, and the transportation capability of a major international airport. Dubai is developing into such a city. Its built on a baking stretch of featureless sand 100km wide, with the only physical feature aparment from miles of glorious golden sand beaches, being  jagged inhospitable mountains in the distance.

Everyone comes and goes through the international airport, with a huge port for goods and services located some distance from the city. Dubai is a city-state built from the perfect storm of globalization, rapidly accumulated oil weath and the control enabled by the city state model (the benevolent dictatorship). Selling the excitement of a new business, finance, media and tourism center using cheap third world labour but marketing it to the rich world luxury tastes.

Why Dubai is an important model for us to study, and use to predict the developments of civilizations in other parts of the world is that its development is so staggering fast. And it represents some concepts that will contribute to the development of a new type of thought based civilization. Without knowing it, this new type of civilization will have the rapidly developing concepts in the field of neuroplasticity as its core meme.

Neuroplasticity is the ability to deliberately rewire the human brain though conscious intention and mental training. This means it has profound implications on our very idea about what our limitations as individuals and societies are.

In Dubai, we see a city state that created itself from little more than audacious vision, concentrated attention, and effective utilization of generous amounts of financial capital. Dubai represents a incredibly pure example of the idea that whatever humanity can dream, it can create.

To be continued….

Everyone thinks China is about manufacturing…

Everyone thinks China is  about manufacturing. Outsourcing Nike sneaker production and well, just about everything else these days. But lets extend our thinking outwards, to the point where we are contemplating the whole development of civilizations in the last century. Lets zoom out to the point where you can look at the development of industrial nations in the twentieth century,the speed that they developed, and then overlay that with the quantities that China presents will bring to the table in the 21st century.

We start our short historical review with the reconstruction of Japan and Germany, after those countries were destroyed at the conclusion of the Second World War. Both countries benefited from heavy inflows of managed capital from the USA, which had the least rebuilding to do. Both subsequently underwent massive structural adjustment, experienced decades of growth, and successfully leveraged  inate cultural resources to guide their success. In the case of the Germans, engineering expertise that is derived from a national culture that prides itself on precision, quality, durability and seriousness. In the case of the Japanese, the national trait was hard work, cooperative corporate structures, the application of familial ties of trust and honour to build business efficency to a new level.

China and Germany required nearly fourty years for this transition process. These fourty years were marked by steadily increasing standard of living and wealth levels.

Now look at South Korea. The race to industrialisation started later – sometime after the Korean war – and gathered speed much more rapidly. But it didn’t stop at industrialisation with the Chaebol, it leapfrogged into the silicon chip and the digital economy, as those things were developed when the capital accumulation of industry was at its greatest in the 90’s. Now south Korean cities are some of the most wired in the world, with broadband internet connection standard in new apartment complexes – unthinkable a decade earlier.

And then we come to China. Lets look at the cultural traits the Chinese can bring into play as they accelerate the development model of rural to industrial to information and beyond. The first and overwhelming factor is sheer potential size of the economy. With a population of 1.4 billion, based on just the ‘local’ economy, the  potential Chinese economy size is twice that of the USA and the EU combined. Then there is the business savy, entreneurship, hardwork and risk aversity of the Chinese. Their cultural has withstood the rigours of communism, but is now adopting the benefits of capitalism.

After all, capitalism has proven itself in the twentieth century as the most effective social-economic model to increase overall wealth of civilizsations, and longer term, to increase individual freedoms while consolidating power even more effectively in the hands of the elite. Capitalism has serious flaws when for instance environment understanding is ignored. But the Chinese will find it impossible to ignore environmental issues when the numbers of people affected by those issues with be so great due to sheer population density. Also, the Chinese are developing industrially in the information age. The power of the internet to focus international attention on enviromentally damaging practice will mean that corporations that seek to polute their way to weath will simply find they are discovered before they have time to even  their chemical dumps and political coverups. It will become easier to leverage the positive attention that deploying new evironmentally conscious technology will give them.

All of this points to the  Chinese passing through the industrial development stage straight into the information age at a breakneck pace. The growth and confidence of Chinese information technology companies like are just the start.

 The thousands of PHDs, engineering, biotechnology and computers graduates being churned out by Chinese universities will be combined with almost unlimited capital generated by their rapid industrial expansion. This capital will be used to build an entirely new type of 21st century infrastructure that will be tailored to the needs of the information and international thoughtsourcing economy rather than the industrial economy. The industrial development of the twentieth century industrial nations was built around the infrastructure constraints of the time.

To be continued… 

I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity

Thanks to my mother in New Zealand for this… 

This is a short poem made up entirely of actual  quotations  from George W. Bush. These have been  arranged, only for  aesthetic  purposes, by Washington Post writer, Richard Thompson. A  wonderful  Haiku poem like this is too good not to share.

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet
Become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.

I know that the human  being
And the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope,
Where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!

I am the Decider!

Is this politics, or am I in bible study group?

The leader of the free world is usually considered to be the president of the Untied States of America. And what is important to the citizens of the free world? Would it be global warming? Would it it be the global credit crisis triggered by unscrupulous unlicensed brokers people giving millions of mortgages to those that can’t afford them? Could it be the trillion dollar deficit caused by six years of a war that conveniently lined the pockets of down home military manufacturers with billions of dollars?

Oh no, its Bible Study! Bible Study is world changing. Bible Study is what shows the mettle of the man. His character, his ability to hold blindly faithful to the Cause despite an ocean of overwhelming facts and logic.  Bible Study may even be why the American people accepted that JKF was a Catholic, but could still govern the country.

And Bible Study is why the entire american media is currently obsessed with whether or not (will he or won’t he) Mitt Romney can explain whether being a Mormon means he really is a proper Christian, or just one of those weird types that still live out west in horse drawn carriages, recuperating after their arduous trek to Salt Lake City to avoid persectution of the True Christian Believers.

 Um, folks, is it really that important? Or is it the economy, stupid? No, read my lips, its NO NEW TAXES. 

American Football, or civil war re-enactment?

Trying to come closer to US culture, one must attempt to understand American Football.

Watching one of the weird spectacles that make up this sport, I concluded that this weird spectacle is a subconscious attempt to reenact the american civil war. I appear to be backed up in this view by Condelezza Rice, who knows much more about football than I do, and described it (Condi, I apologize in advance for misquoting) as a repeated attempt to gain enemy terriority.

 Here’s how it goes. There are two opposing armies. Their generals choose a field for the battle. The field is small, and their are lots of players, and even more replacements sitting in base camp, waiting for the slaughter to begin. Safely just off the battlefield are doctors, generals, strategists, armorers, cooks and all manner of other personnel.

Before the battle, the armies line up opposing each other, to the crys of the adoring peasants, who have travelled for miles and braved the dangerous countryside to watch the battle. They are desparate and feverish in their desire for victory.

When the generals agree to attack, the teams charge forward at each other, clad in colourful armor. They make a few feet of progress in each charge. The injured are carried off and tended by the doctors, quickly replaced by waiting soldiers. Those injured are surrounded by adoring relatives, pretty girls and generals complementing them for their bravery on the battle field. 

Success in the battle is determined by which army has reached the end of the opposing armies field the most times. Soldiers with a career of many successful battles live the rest of their lives telling tales or their victories and war injuries. The peasants follow their favorite army with patisan fervor, loyal to the very end… 

Cute Kids dancing in my car

A little video of our kids chilling out to one of my favorite Cafe del Mar CDs. 

Spirituality vs Religion vs Science….

St Peters 

Spirituality vs Religion vs Science….the great mental challenge of our age, if not many ages before.  Which should you model you world view around? Be a Buddist Monk, a lapsed Catholic, or an atheist Newtonian.  I’ve spent a lot of mental energy running around in the intersecting vectors of these three symbiotic domains, and come to understand my own personal belief structures pretty well along the way.

The photo above was taken at St Peter’s in Rome. It is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings I’ve ever set foot in. As someone without religious affiliation, the bastion of one of the planets most powerful religions is a very interesting experience. You can see what I do instead while other people are in church in my other blog on exploring consciousness

Go Binaural!!

Woman meditating

Anyone interested in the mind-body connection is missing a big chunk of the action if they haven’t come into contact with the science and practice of binuaral beats. The first experience I had of this technology, when I was about 20 or so, quickly brought me to the most relaxed state I think I had ever experienced, and my first experience of the temporary discreation of the dimension of time from my consciousness.

Over the years, I’ve owned several difference binaural machines, but now have abandoned these due to the fact that you can run binaural programs much more effectively from inexpensive computer software. The software I use is called Brain Sound Studio. I’m also currently at Awakening Level 2  in the Holosync program. Holosync uses highly developed and proven binaural technology combined with some other sound processing techniques to deliver lasting personal change at the neurological level.

Picture acknowledgement: Holosync Website

Here’s our family

Becker-hill Family October 2006

When we moved from Germany to the United states, we started to quite often to get the comment ‘ What a beautiful family’. It’s one of the nice things about the friendly people here in Michigan that they value family so highly. I’m grateful that my own family has turned out so beautiful…