Destinator - Personal Navigation With a Flair

By Hal Reid

_Destinator Technologies Inc.
14350 N. 87th Street, Suite 250
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
Tel: (480) 588-8900

Recently, I had a discussion with Milan Brkic, product marketing manager at Destinator Technologies, a personal navigation software company. Before we get to the discussion talking points, it is important for you to understand a little bit about the product itself.

Personal navigation systems consist of hardware, GPS receivers, and most importantly, software and data that make the hardware and GPS receivers work. Destinator is a combination of software and data that is OEM'd to several hardware companies around the world. The company's navigation software can be embedded in any portable device including personal navigation devices, mobile phones, smartphones and PDAs. While that in itself is not unusual, I noted three things that seem to set the company apart.

First, the company has a global view of its business, and offices around the world to support that view. Second, the company works with several map providers. And third, the sample user interfaces were unusually intuitive. The product can be supplied in 22 languages, including traditional and simplified Chinese, and there is even a handwriting recognition Chinese keyboard. The company is active in Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific region, with offices in Toronto, Scottsdale, Tel Aviv, Beijing, Taipei and Munich.

The user interface will vary with each OEM provider. To give you an idea of how it can look, here are examples of the sample interface – clear, simple and elegant.

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Below is a sample of how the map can look to the user and the functionality that is immediately available.

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Four navigation modes are available. These include the vehicle mode, the pedestrian mode, the day mode and the night mode. Notice how clean the interfaces are.

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Hal Reid (HR): I see you have offices in many major markets around the world, which are also served by NAVTEQ, Tele Atlas or MapAsia. What areas of the world are the most difficult in which to create accurate directions?

Milan Brkic (MB):
Currently we are cooperating with a number of map providers. Some of them cover the same regions with different qualities or level of detail. Two of the biggest are NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas.
  • NAVTEQ / Nav2 (China): At the moment the most important partner providing map data of regions all over the world
  • Tele Atlas / NavInfo (China): Second biggest map data supplier with similar coverage to NAVTEQ
  • In addition we cooperate with a number of other map providers in the following countries: Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Australia, Israel, India, Mexico and the Middle East.
HR: I see you have over a million users, yet you OEM your software. In looking at the affiliations with other companies, it wasn't clear to me just how, as a consumer, I could actually get the software.

A device running Destinator really is your personal navigation system. Users can tailor their navigation experience by customizing screen colors, voices, organizing and managing their stored places of interest and favorite destinations. Consumers can buy Destinator ‘s navigation software online.

HR: There is a POI (points of interest) management function in the software. Because of the sheer number of POIs, they can present a special problem when you are traveling (e.g. gas stations off the freeway). Do you have a wizard or set of filters for the user to manage POIs?

Yes, there are a number of POI options:
  • Set as origin
  • Add to favorites
  • Show on the map
  • Information
  • Sort by ABC
  • Send SMS
  • Set radius
With easy access to millions of pre-loaded points of interest, Destinator provides users detailed information on both recreational and practical places of interest. Users also have access to real-time information like traffic, events and weather.

HR: An outstanding feature of this software is the user interface, which has to be a key differentiator between you and your competitors. What other characteristics do you identify as key differentiators?

On the company level:
  • Dedicated and customer-oriented project, marketing and sales organization
  • Global footprint: offices in Beijing, Taipei, Tel Aviv, Munich, Scottsdale and Toronto (HQ). Strong presence in China
  • Company is focusing on Wireless and Personal navigation solutions.
  • Company is focusing on both ‘Off-board' and ‘On-board' navigation solution.
On the product level:
  • Customizable look and feel as well as menu structure
  • Customizable maps and map data
HR: The vehicle and pedestrian modes are especially cool. The differing nature of walking around and driving around certainly creates the need for both types of data presentation. Explain the scope of the pedestrian mode.

When in "Pedestrian navigation mode," Destinator will guide the user through and in the pedestrian zones. Maximum navigation radius 6km or 3.7miles.

HR: The "Here I am via SMS" is certainly a neat feature. Does the receiver, assuming he/she has your software on his mobile device, see a map locating the received SMS coordinates?

In this case, the person who receives the message will receive latitude and longitude as well as the address of the sender's location. The receiver can then save the location as a "My Favorite," navigate directly to that location, or simply delete the SMS.

HR: You offer an amazingly vast number of languages. Does the user have choices in how the audio is presented; male, female, type of voice, well-known characters, etc?

Currently users can only select which languages he/she wants to use for voice guidance and for visual text instructions.

HR: Putting something as complex as the Chinese characters on a keyboard and making it useful has got to have been a challenge. I have to ask, does this really work well for people using traditional Chinese characters?


HR: How does the real-time traffic capability work? Is there an updated link on request by the user or is it a built-in feature that assumes wireless, cell phone or other connection to the source?

Destinator currently supports RDS FM Traffic solution. In certain regions we also support "Conditional Access" (TMC Pro – paid service) - in Germany, France and the UK.

Published Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Written by Hal Reid

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