By now, many of you are probably sick and tired of the robotic voices that come pre-shipped with many of the entry-level GPS models. TomTom were one of the first in-car GPS manufacturers to provide celebrity voices, and they've continued this tradition with their just-announced Star Wars voice pack.
Wannabe Jedi masters can hear directions voiced by the likes of Darth Vader, and in coming months, be given driving cues by the likes of Yoda and C-3PO. Pieces of John Williams Imperial March score will be imbedded into the Vader navigation instructions as well as lightsaber and TIE fighter sounds.
If you can't don't like the idea of your car crossing over into the dark side, there's always the option to record driving instructions with your own voice, using Nokia's Own Voice app, which links directly to Nokia's Ovi Maps software.
The aptly named ‘Own Voice' software will let you record and share your navigation instructions directly to your phone called 'voice packs'. Pre-saved voice packs can be shared amongst your friends and family across Facebook and Twitter.
Access to onboard diagnostics
Among the more fanciful GPS applications we've seen this year is Garmin's ecoRoute HD onboard diagnostics computer. The $199 diagnostics software lets you monitor your car and your driving style in real-time. Diagnostics include useful measures such as emissions, air temperature information, engine load, and battery and charging information.
ecoRoute data will also calculate your speed, acceleration and braking speeds via a connection to the car's standardised onboard diagnostics port (OBD II), which can be mounted by a mechanic.
Improved traffic warnings
We've reported before about the pros and cons of the SUNA traffic service. Since our last review of the service was published, much has changed in the field of traffic reporting, and judging by the recent changes it's for the better. In recent developments, SUNA announced in April that they would increase the number of traffic probe vehicles in Australia, in a project called ‘SUNA phase 2'. This will in theory provide more precise data to GPS users.
|A visual representation of SUNA traffic data as displayed by Google Maps
The project is expected to generate a whopping one hundred million instantaneous speed measurements each month. Probe vehicles (often taxis), help the service collect valuable data by relaying traffic measurements back to base, where the resulting traffic data is later analysed and then sent out to motorist's GPS receivers, which are capable of receiving the service and be warned of potential traffic problems on-route.
SUNA now comes with a number of GPS units (including Navman), although you may still need to purchase a seperate FM-based antenna with some brands.
Smart search technology
A handy little icon found in the latest Myseries of Navman models pairs business search listings with simple keyword searches. It's a little different from the pre-loaded POIs that come with older GPS units.
Whether it be a new place to eat in an area of town you're not familiar with or a place to fill up petrol - Navman Connect will utilise the Bluetooth data connection in your phone and search TrueLocal and Google to find the appropriate POI business listing in your chosen neck of the woods.
This kind of search technology is now found across most of the leading GPS brands, although you will need a data connection and Bluetooth functionality via your mobile to make it all work.