I'm going to talk about a few different aspects of Navizon.
First, there is the consumer application. Available for a number of platforms including Windows Mobile, the Navizon application basically allows you to pinpoint your position without a GPS device using either cell towers, or wifi access points - a unique approach. 2 versions of the application are available - a lite version (which does cell positioning), and the $24.95 commercial version which includes both cell positioning and the wifi positioning.
So what can you do with the app? You can perform 'find my nearest' type queries, plot your current position on a map, upload your current position, you can locate your Navizon buddies, you can place a 'Geotag' that can be read later by other Navizon users at a location and you can upload data to Navizon. The data i'm referring to here is the cell and WiFi access point data that your device sees as you travel around. Lastly, if you are using the non-lite version of the app, you can even expose Navizon's position as a 'Virtual GPS' for use in other programs. You could effectively provide positioning data to other programs such as Live Search via Navizon!
Does it work? Yes, it really does! Assuming you are within Navizon's coverage area (we'll get to this in a moment), it works really well. Before using Navizon I hadn't really considered today's near ubiquitous WiFi as an enabler to approximate positioning, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. The application seems well written and feature packed, and i've been using it for the past week with no real complaints.
So, what's the coverage like? Here we come to the next aspect of Navizon I want to talk about. Navizon's coverage is user contributed. That means that an area will be covered if it has been previously mapped by a Navizon user. This is what I was referring to when I talked about 'data upload' above. Now this is where it gets really cool too. Navizon don't expect you to be nice people and just upload your data for free (although we are of course, right?), they're willling to pay you for it. They're going to give you 10 points for each cell you log, and 2 points for each WiFi AP you log (you only get credited the first time you personally log each individual cell / AP). Every 10,000 points, you can redeem a reward and claim $20 via PayPal.
10,000 points? Whoah, that's a lot, i'll never earn that! You might think that, and to be honest, I was probably of that school of thought.... until I tried it! In the name of research, on Boxing Day, I installed Navizon on my Kaiser. I figured that since I would be driving around between Christmas and New Year, visiting family and always running CamerAware, I might as well have Navizon on too. So, I ran it, it coexisted perfectly with CamerAware, and between then and my return home yesterday (i.e a period of about 1 week of moderate driving), i've clocked up 18,000 points! That's nearly 2 rewards, and nearly $40!
Below is a pic of my current Navizon rewards status, and I have also included a screen capture from Navizon from 1 of my journeys. Believe it or not this is 1 journey of only 15 miles through Central London to the Emirates Stadium home of Arsenal on New Years Day. You probably would not clock up these points on any other 15 mile journey, but it goes to show what is up for grabs!
Neato! Anything else? There's a couple of other cool things. The first is that when you refer other people to Navizon, you get awarded 20% of the value of their points. So, for every 10,000 they earn, you get 2,000 too, at no cost to them. Even better for people like me though, is the Navizon Developer API. It allows you to implement Navizon cell positioning in your application for FREE, and potentially even allows developers of GPS based applications such as CamerAware to allow users to earn points directly from within their application. Imagine getting paid just to drive around and be told where the speed cameras are. Brilliant!
OK, sounds great - where do I sign up? Simply head over to the Navizon page (this is my referral link btw), download the application, and get started! If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to post here, i've been hammering the application pretty intensively the past week
[Edit: For anyone who has logged points and referred me, PM me your MoDaCo Username for a small token of my appreciation (a free AdFree sub) ]
[Edit 2: If you get prompted for a referral code, enter '5E5B59565E'. Thanks! ]