[Tech] [Ubicomp] Business 2.0: Finding Profits in the GPS Economy


Tractors that steer themselves. Property that "knows" it's been stolen. Airplanes that land without a pilot. The opportunities surrounding the global positioning system are already mind-boggling, but now the industry is set to skyrocket. This spring the U.S. government will launch its first next-generation GPS satellite -- to complement the 30 older models already in service -- creating stronger signals, increased bandwidth, and lots of potential for smart entrepreneurs.


The most visible GPS applications tend to radiate from huge companies. UPS, for one, plans to outfit 75,000 drivers with GPS-enabled handhelds this year to help them reach destinations more efficiently. But startups offering similar navigation and tracking services could also make out nicely. Consider AtRoad, a Fremont, Calif., firm that went public in 2000. It offers "geo-fencing" software that triggers e-mail alerts if a company vehicle speeds or ventures into unauthorized areas.


Meanwhile, Zingo in the United Kingdom uses GPS-enabled cars and text messaging to help subscribers hail cabs.


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