Logged in as Guest account
Home   About  Login   Sign up!



About AnnotatedEarth

The goal of AnnotatedEarth is to create a user-driven community of quality location and spatial information, a infrastructure for accessing that information, and software that uses that information to provide location-aware information.


Q: What's location-aware?
A: Location-aware technology allows a computer-based device to figure out what's around it.  Usually "around" translates to "what's directly around me, right now".  As you move, the various things (buildings, places, et al) change - and location-aware technology allows computers to know about that change.  You can think of any given area (say, a town) to be a mass of location information, or annotations.  Buildings, streets, restaurants, houses, stores, interesting art work, a spot to meet your friends every Monday, just about anything.  AnnotatedEarth enables any computer device (laptops, cell phones, and PDA's among a few) to understand where you are and what's around you.  Location-aware is sometimes also called "Context-aware".

Q: What do I need to use the location-aware technology?
A: To full access this technology, you need a computer capably of running AnnotatedEarth-enabled applications, a wireless connection to the internet, and a device to determine your current latitude and longitude (generally some type of GPS device, even though it's possible to get that information outside of traditional satellite-based GPS systems).  It is possible for applications to be written that don't require a constant connection to the internet, but none have been written at this time.

Q: That's a lot of requirements...
A: AnnotatedEarth was created to take advantage of the convergence of widely available WiFi, mobile computing, and highly accurate GPS information.  While these requirements are currently limiting, this system was developed with the belief that these technologies will become more available over the next several years, allowing for a wide audience that can meet these requirements.

Q: What does the website provide? What's the difference between it and the client applications?
A: The web site is actually just another client to the AnnotatedEarth infrastructure.  It was initially developed to manage location information (coordinates, or "waypoints") that were being used for location-aware clients.  It has grown to be a generic repository of GPS waypoints, in addition to managing location-aware information.

The non-web clients currently available actually implement the location-aware part of the technology.  This includes both detecting what's aroudn

Q: Where's the maps? Directions to places?
A: AnnotatedEarth is very focused on the question "What's immediately around me".  This generally translates to something within view; 20 feet, 50 feet, 100 feet, etc.  While mapping can be provided, AnnotatedEarth, as a system, doesn't directly provide for map creation or directions (all the clients allow you to pop a web browser window with a mp).  We are currently looking for an existing mapping application to integrate to the AnnotatedEarth technology.  By using the AnnotatedEarth infrastructure, third-party developers can add location-aware abilities to their software.

Q: How accurate is this location-aware stuff, anyway?
A: Well, that depends on a few things.  The GPS unit you're using, how good a lock you have on the satellites, and how many you lock on to.  Generally the best it will do is 15 meters. If you have a WAAS-enabled receiver, that goes down to 3 meters.  If you're using a cell phone or LAN node-based location information, that can get better (or worse).

Q: Who can develop AnnotatedEarth-aware applications?
A: Anyone! The information to interface to the AnnotatedEarth location service is free for anyone to use. It specifically uses HTTP as input (like your web browser does; a url), and text-based XML documents as output.  Look here for more information.  Want to see what AE sends back on a request? Look here