New TomTom GPS units use real-world speed data

GPS navigation vendor TomTom today announced a new line of devices that will use real-world traffic data to produce more realistic calculations of the fastest driving routes.

TomTom's new IQ Routes technology will make its debut on the next iterations of the company's flagship automotive navigation devices, the Go 730 and Go 930. Due to appear in stores at the end of April, the TomTom Go 730 (US$449) and 930 (US$499) will also introduce improved assistance for navigating roads with multiple lanes and complex junctions.

Like earlier models, these units also support voice address input and use TomTom's Map Share technology, which enables users to correct their maps and share the fixes with other TomTom customers.

The Go 730 has maps of the U.S. and Canada; the 930 adds maps of Europe, Enhanced Positioning Technology (which uses movement and gravity sensors to determine position when a GPS signal isn't available--such as in a tunnel); and a Bluetooth remote.

Smarter routing

IQ Routes is the major innovation in these units. It addresses a longstanding problem with route calculation by GPS devices: Most base their fastest route calculations on posted speed limits of roads. In the real world, however, drivers are often slowed down by congestion, stop signs and traffic lights.

In its routing calculations, TomTom's IQ Routes discards posted speed limits in favor of speed data gathered from other connected TomTom users. As a result, the device may determine that a longer drive on surface streets with lower posted speed limits may be faster than a spin on a traffic-choked freeway.

The technology also takes into account the date and time of travel, so that the same route might be a minute or two faster on a weekend than on a weeknight.

Better advice

The other innovation in these models, called Advanced Lane Guidance, addresses the confusion that sometimes arises when you're on a multiple-lane highway and must exit or make a turn. TomTom now depicts all the lanes, and shows you which one you should be in using arrows as well as signpost information. Similarly, the units improve their depiction of complex junctions.

The capability to input addresses by voice is relatively new to TomTom; it was introduced in the Go 920, and returns in these newer units. However unlike Garmin's upcoming 800 series, the Go 730 and 930 do not accept voice navigation commands, and so are not completely hands-free devices.

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