TomTom is releasing a new personal navigation device (PND) called the TomTom Live 1000. As part of this article from MacNN they mention TomTom is attempting to get into the App Store market by creating its own marketplace for TomTom specific software add-ons (like the Apple App Store). The reason is the cold war going on between device manufacturers gaining the upper hand by wholesale adoption of a closed application software universe. Google is doing it with Android and Apple has done it with the iPhone and iPad. Going all the way back to the iPod, there was interest in running games on those handheld devices, but no obvious way to ‘sell’ them, until the App Store came out. Now TomTom is following suit, by redesigning the whole TomTom universe using Webkit as a key component of it’s new OS on TomTom devices (Webkit is also being used in the Android based Garmin A10 phone too). Ambivalent about the added value? Other than trying to gain some market share against PND manufacturers, Harold Goddijn, the CEO of TomTom says it’s all about innovation. They mention in passing the possibility of Augmented Reality apps for TomTom devices. But there’s a small matter of getting a video feed into the PND that can then be layered with the AR software. And honestly even the CEO Tom Goodjin is somewhat ambivalent about seizing the opportunity of Augmented Reality in the TomTom application store universe. As reported on Pocket-lint.com: “Although Goddjin confirmed that the company was looking at the possibility of adding augmented reality in to the mix, the niche technology isn’t a major objective for them.”
It’s not enough to just overlay information on an Apple iPhone or TomTom PND screen showing related points of interest (POI). Like the iPhone Nearest Tube app from Acrossair, knowing the general compass direction to a subway station is useful. But full step-by-step navigating to it seems to be the next logical step, maps and all. What makes me think of this is the recent announcement of the Garmin A10 smartphone with GPS navigation. If Garmin, TomTom or an independent developer could mashup Augmented Reality with their respective navigation engines, whilst throwing in a bit of Google Street View one might, just might have the most useful personal assistant for finding places on foot. Garmin has a whole slew of devices for the hiking, and bicycling market. They even offer walking/pedestrian directions on their automobile navigation devices. So the overlay of Augmented Reality/Point-of-Interest and full-on Garmin Navigation to me would be a truly killer app.