App Note:
GPS-Enabled Media and Transportation
Possibilities and Opportunities
There have been significant developments in the use of GPS technology for consumer navigation systems.  However, GPS-enabled media players (like the Digital Audio Machine and the Digital Video Machine) can open up new markets for Contractors who can provide fleetwide services to Airport/Hotel Shuttles, Tour Buses and other transportation operators.  Additionally, the selling of location-based advertising provides the possibility of a recurring revenue stream for the transportation company, the Contractor or both. Designing and installing a GPS-Enabled Media system is simple and straightforward:
Chief Operating Officer
 
Equipment
Audio AM4
Video DVM
Software
GPS Builder
 

Step 1: Evaluate the Current Media Capabilities of the Fleet.

Do the vehicles have an existing audio and/or video system?  For audio, is there a way to interface with the existing stereo or paging system?  For video, does the vehicle already have an on-board entertainment system, such as a VCR or DVD player and displays?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, installing a GPS-enabled Digital Audio Machine or Digital Video Machine will be easy.  Without existing systems, it will be necessary to install an audio and/or video system to playback the content.

 

Step 2: What type of functionality is the transportation company looking for?

Are they looking for simple playback of location messages, such as “You are now arriving at the Hotel Pleasantville?” or do they want more detailed messaging, such as a guided tour?  Are they looking to augment or replace a human tour guide?  Do they require external route signage displays?

Depending on the needs of the transportation company, you can look to a variety of sources for media production.  If you only require a voiceover to announce locations, you may be able to produce the media in-house using inexpensive off-the-shelf audio production software to produce MP3 files.  For more complicated productions, including music and sound effects, you could look to an audio production studio to create your media. 

If the operator requires external route signage displays, those messages can be easily embedded in the Digital Audio Machine or Digital Video Machine for easy playback.

 

Step 3: What type of business model are you looking for?

Is this a one-time install?  Will there be advertising messages on the vehicles?

From a business perspective, this requires a careful analysis of your own business and discussions with your client.  If you prefer the more traditional approach that you may be accustomed to, you could charge for the equipment and installation labor on a per-vehicle basis.

If you are looking for a recurring revenue stream, you may have to install the equipment at a discounted rate.  In return, you could negotiate a share of any advertising revenue or – in the case of a tour bus – a share of the ticket fees.  Either way, it is important to negotiate a firm agreement to protect your business.

 

Step 4: Installing the equipment

Installing a GPS-enabled media device is very simple.

In the case of the Digital Audio Machine, the device can be placed anywhere there is room as long as there is access to power and the audio cabling.  The device can take the place of an existing CD or cassette player or you can use an audio switch to select one or the other, depending on the operator’s requirements.


In the case of the Digital Video Machine, the device needs to have access to power and the audio/video cabling.  Most times it can easily take the place of a DVD player or VCR.

Both devices come with a GPS “mouse” or antenna that is used to triangulate the vehicle’s location.  This antenna needs to have line-of-sight access to the sky.  Many of them have magnetic mounts so they can stick on a piece of metal.  Then, run the cabling to the port on the Digital Audio Machine or Digital Video Machine. 

Both devices run off standard vehicle power so you do not need a DC-to-AC power inverter to supply the electricity.  If there is a visual signage system, connect the RS-232 serial port on the Digital Audio Machine or Digital Video Machine, to the signage system.

A quick note on device location: the sounds/video are stored on a CompactFlash card in the front of the unit, so you may want to allow easy access to the card if you are going to change out media frequently.  If you plan to update content via Ethernet, you will need Internet access and an available Ethernet port on the vehicle.  While this may sound like the best option, replacing the CompactFlash card is easy and it contains all of the media and programming necessary to make your system run.

 

Step 5: Programming the equipment

In order to program the equipment, you should know where you want your sounds or video to play, so work on a plan with your customer.  The programming is extremely flexible; for example you can have a background music track that is interrupted when a trigger point is reached, the location announcement plays and then returns to the background track.  Once you have a rough idea of where to trigger, there are two ways to program the Digital Audio Machine or Digital Video Machine.  

The first method is to drive the course in the vehicle.  Using the GPS receiver/antenna and a laptop, you can set trigger points along the route using our free GPS Builder software.  This generates a GPS Playlist file that can be copied to the Machine and then you are finished!

The second method allows you to program your triggers “off-line” using our GPS Builder software and its Google Maps interface.  This involves setting specific trigger points by visually tracing the route online.  Once your trigger points are set, GPS Builder generates a GPS Playlist that can be copied to the Machine.
If the vehicle has external route signage displays, you can build those messages – and their corresponding GPS trigger points – into the same GPS Playlist for displaying location information on the route.

Regardless of the programming method, you can always fine-tune your trigger points using GPS Builder.  The software is incredibly easy to use and very flexible.  It even allows you to set a different sequence depending on which way the vehicle is traveling!  A different sound or video can play in the same location depending on which tour you are running.  The possibilities are endless!

 

Step 6: Future expansion

Will you need to change media?  Will you add additional tours?  Will there be new vehicles?

Changing media is easy.  Once you produce the new audio or video and set your GPS trigger points, changing media is as simple as putting a new CompactFlash card in the Machine.  That’s all it takes!  When the card is in, the unit is ready to go.  Adding additional vehicles is as simple as copying the existing cards and putting them in the new units.  No additional programming is required.  And with no moving parts, you never have to worry about a Digital Audio Machine or Digital Video Machine “burning out” from fatigue.

Conclusion

GPS-enabled media devices – such as the Digital Audio Machine and Digital Video Machine – provide an incredible opportunity to easily tap a new market.  Transportation systems are everywhere and they exist in a variety of different forms.  With these easy steps, you can help transportation operators develop new experiences for their business and add a new revenue stream to yours!





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