GPS and Inertial Systems Technology: A Winning Combination from Trimble
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GPS and Inertial Systems Technology: A Winning Combination from Trimble

Message from the Editor

Welcome to GISWeekly! Recently Trimble acquired Applanix, provider of inertial systems technology, to add positioning accuracy to their line of GPS products. The combination of GPS with INS will improve the performance level for those customers engaged in surveying, construction, forestry and other key industries. See our interview with Bryn Fosburgh, vice president and general manager of Trimble's Geomatics and Engineering Division, for more details.

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Industry News

GPS and Inertial Systems Technology: A Winning Combination from Trimble

Interview with Bryn Fosburgh

Bryn Fosburgh
If you have ever been reliant on a GPS for correct mileage or location and have had data transmission problems because of tall buildings or tree canopy, then the acquisition of Applanix by Trimble, provider of core GPS positioning technology, will definitely be of interest to you.

GISWeekly spoke with Bryn Fosburgh, vice president and general manager of Trimble's Geomatics and Engineering Division about the company's recent acquisition of Applanix, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary. Fosburgh has been with Trimble since 1994.

Applanix, a provider of inertial systems technology (INS), coupled with Trimble's core GPS technology, promises greater position accuracy in situations where trees, topography or tall buildings obstruct satellite transmission. Inertial sensors don't have dependencies like GPS, are self-contained and rely on gyros and accelerometers inside the system to providing positioning information. The combination of GPS with INS will improve the performance level for those customers engaged in surveying, construction, forestry and other key industries.

Tell me how the Geomatics and Engineering Division is set up and how Applanix fits into the Trimble framework.

BF: Trimble's Geomatics and Engineering (G&E) Division consists of four distinct business areas: surveying, which concentrates on land and marine applications; construction, which concentrates on the construction market for 2D and 3D machine control applications; infrastructure, which addresses GPS reference stations and software; and emerging technologies, a group that explores innovative technologies and techniques for future applications. For example, in this area we look at companies like Applanix to see how their technology can add value and be potentially incorporated into the mainstream business of our division, which is primarily surveying and construction.

What were the qualities of Applanix that led you to want to make this acquisition?

Applanix complements Trimble's core positioning technologies, which include: lasers which help you determine an elevation of a plane or a point; GPS which gives you a 3D position and then we have optical total stations which are - when you are driving down the road and see a surveyor looking through an eye piece that's a total station; we have advanced technology called robotic total stations that allow the user to manipulate that total station without looking through the eyepiece. When you see someone looking through the eyepiece there's always someone on the other end with a pole and prism. Robotic technologies enable remote control from the range pole, and it doesn't need someone looking through the eyepiece and the total station is controlled remotely from the pole. Also from the G&E Division, we offer field and office application software that meets our market sector requirements and enable Trimble to provide a complete solution.

Applanix adds to the robustness of GPS technology. GPS signals cruise through the atmosphere at 20,000 kilometers or so, it works very well if you're in an open or semi- open area. If you go into what we call a hostile environment, say a tree canopy or in an urban canyon with tall buildings, then GPS can give you either degraded accuracy or you may not receive GPS signals at all. By adding inertial technology, GPS becomes a more robust positioning solution for a number of reasons. First, inertial data can be used to improve the detection and tracking of weak GPS signals (improve the signal to noise ratio). Second, inertial technology can be used to maintain GPS positioning, for a limited time, without satellite availability. And third, inertial helps with faster reacquisition times by maintaining both the tracking loops and a much smaller reacquisition search space. GPS is also complementary to inertial technology, which has a tendency to drift after long periods of time. GPS can be used to re-calibrate inertial. Together they are a great combination.

Many of our survey and construction customers need positioning 24 hours a day at all locations. Applanix's inertial navigation technology enables us to get that 24-hour availability under any working conditions, so it's very important for us strategically. A person driving a bulldozer down the road needs that positioning when they go underneath an overpass. With GPS today, they may lose that satellite signal. The problem is that GPS uses line of sight technology and in some instances it doesn't always give the user 100 percent availability. Inertial navigation, now coupled with our GPS solutions, will give a more robust solution. And our goal is 100 percent position availability.

In addition, Applanix is a growing and profitable company on its own. It serves markets that Trimble doesn't really participate in-for example, the airborne mapping market. Applanix is very well known in the airborne market and will continue to work in that space. Other markets in which Applanix is very active include marine survey and road survey.

Those are the new market areas you'll be moving into as a result of this acquisition?

I don't believe Trimble will go into the airborne market but Applanix will continue to offer solutions in the airborne market. Other than selling GPS receivers, that's not really a marketplace that Trimble will participate in alone today. However, Trimble does participate in the marine market, and Applanix coupled with the Trimble solutions will give us an enhanced product offering for our customers in that area.

The acquisition allows us to look at applications in markets that have positioning or data collection as a key attribute of what they're doing. Since, with inertial, we're not inhibited by the line of sight for GPS it may become more viable for us to go into other markets. The acquisition is in its early stages so it would be difficult at this point to say we'll move into this or that market at this time.

Will you keep the Applanix staff on board or will there be a replacement?

The Applanix staff will remain on board and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary as well as a center of excellence for inertial technology. They are very excited about the acquisition. Applanix has been a customer of Trimble for many years. They bought GPS receivers from us so they saw early on, even before the acquisition, that they could merge the two technologies to provide the user with a more robust solution in difficult environments.

What we'll be able to do in the future is enhance our product offerings for survey, construction and agriculture. It will definitely enhance the division's current targeted markets.


KingsBridge Systems Inc., a Wireless Network Planning (WNP) solutions provider announced that it has formed an alliance partnership with Canada's leading geospatial data experts, DMTI Spatial. DMTI Spatial is a Markham-based company that develops web enabled spatial data and software products used to support corporate and institutional information and marketing systems.

Telespazio SpA, a Finmeccanica Company, one of the European players in space telecommunication and Earth Observation services, has become the major share holder of GAF AG, a move that brings together two entities devoted to develop a promising but demanding market. While GAF is a synonym for leading competence in Earth observation and integrated information technology and services, Telespazio is a European operator, an international reference in design, planning and management of space systems and in the development of satellite technology based services and solutions. Eurimage, a joint endeavour of Telespazio and Astrium, may, together with Euromap, a wholly owned subsidiary of GAF, add further value to the field of data distribution. The necessary economic size to make an impact in a coalescing European and global market is even more represented by the parent group Finmeccanica.


Safe Software has donated technology valued at $20,000 US to the Children International Organization to support their Program Services Area GIS Mapping Project.

URISA will be conducting a conference on the subject of GIS in Public Works from February 25-27, 2004 at The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. The focus of the conference will be on the effective application of information technology in public works departments. The 3rd GIS in Public Works Conference will bring together participants with a rich diversity of experience.

In June, OGC members voted to adopt the OpenGIS(R) Location Services (OpenLS(TM)) Implementation Specification, and the OpenGIS Web Map Context Implementation Specification. Once editorial comments are incorporated, the OpenLS Implementation Specification will be publicly released. The Web Map Context Implementation Specification is publicly available.

Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), announced implementation of the Open GIS® Web Map Service (WMS) Specification, an industry consensus specification that enables organizations to efficiently, effectively, and immediately share and visualize data. The WMS Extension for Autodesk MapGuide® 6.3 software is ideal for organizations that produce and distribute geospatial information, develop and integrate software systems, or use image processing and GIS. These organizations will be able to share data throughout the lifecycle of a project using open standards. The WMS Extension for Autodesk MapGuide 6.3 is currently available in the Americas and Asia-Pacific. The company also announced that Florida's State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has selected Autodesk MapGuide® software to help disaster workers and the public respond to hurricanes and other disasters, either natural or man-made. The Tallahassee-based SEOC will use Autodesk MapGuide software as the backbone for various websites that offer flood maps, evacuation routes, and shelter locations, as well as homeland security websites used by law enforcement officials.

Specialty Publishing Company, publishers of Start and Constructech magazines, announced today the launch of M2M magazine as the first magazine that reaches decision makers in the emerging M2M marketplace. The machine-to-machine, mobile-to-machine, man-to-machine, machine-to-man, and machine-to-mobile (M2M) communications market is growing rapidly with the need for devices and systems to be connected anytime and anywhere.

The International Non-Traditional Teaching Initiative 2003 Expedition (INTI 2003) chose a new GPS/GIS receiver from Leica Geosystems for their recent expedition to Ecuador's Nevado Cayembe to study glacial recession in the tropics. A group of girls from the Oldfield School in Maryland set out to map the area, which is 16,000 feet above sea level, very remote and hostile. More information on the INTI 2003 expedition may be found at the website:

The City of Volta Redonda, Brazil, has gone operational with its new Geospatial Resource Management System, powered by Intergraph's GeoMedia(R) technology. The City of Volta Redonda's Public Works Department, Servico Autonomo de Agua e Esgoto (SAAE), provides water and wastewater services to 300,000 residents and manages a network of more than 70,000 water pipes and 68,000 sewer pipes. GeoMedia PublicWorks Manager is improving access to the city's asset information, thus speeding analysis of water consumption and identification of parcels affected by routine maintenance or outages.

With the initial group of online course materials for a model remote sensing curriculum nearing completion, the Institute for Advanced Education in Geospatial Sciences has awarded contracts for a second round of courses. The selection process included written proposals submitted in March and oral presentations by more than 20 finalists last month at the Second Annual Course Creation Fellows Symposium. Winning fellows include faculty and researchers from several of the nation's most prestigious academic institutions.

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) annoucned that it has launched the data collection process for its 6th annual Geospatial Technology Report. The report contains detailed information on the complexity, direction, and completeness of geographic information systems (GIS) projects being implemented at more than 200 infrastructure-based organizations around the world. Users with active GIS implementations are invited to complete the survey at Other than company name, number of customers, and start date of the companies' GIS, all information is kept confidential, and none of the data provided is associated with the responding organizations in the published report.


Surdex Corporation announced it has been awarded a $2.7 million contract by the United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Services Agency, Aerial Photography Field Office for the 2003 National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP). The project entails the acquisition of 1:40,000 scale color or color infrared aerial photography for the states of Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas during the summer of 2003. Surdex will produce nearly 16,000 1 or 2-meter resolution digital orthophotos for the 220,000 square miles of coverage for a fall delivery.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced it has awarded the first 20 among 100 available grants to qualifying organizations through the international Intergraph Open Interoperability Program, established to promote and emphasize the use of OpenGIS(R) specifications from the geospatial industry standards body, the Open GIS Consortium (OGC). The program, valued at more than $5.5 million (U.S.), enables organizations to leverage disparate data from multiple sources - regardless of vendor brand, format or platform - to easily and dynamically publish data in open, industry-standard formats to the Web. Organizations maximize the reuse of spatial data while eliminating time-consuming data translation and reducing integration requirements and associated costs.

"The Royal Thai Survey Department, a major producer of Thailand's map dataand distributor of geospatial data, is pleased to be a recipient of the Intergraph grant," said Col. Krith Bunthid, Chief of Map Information Center, Royal Thai Survey Department. "Currently, queries for map and spatial data can only be done in person or over the phone. With the help of Intergraph's technology, we can provide unlimited access through an open standards-based Web portal, saving time and costly delays."


Analytical Surveys, Inc. ("ASI") announced that John Federowicz has joined ASI as the Vice President of Data Management. Mr. Federowicz will be responsible for the development and management of ASI's Data Management initiative focused on providing outsourced GIS related services to the utility, telecommunications and local government markets.

New Products

National Technology Services, Inc. (NTS) has been named as the national distributor for TomTom personal navigation products for the USA. TomTom produces the top selling software in Europe for PDA/GPS based interactive mapping. Recognizing the opportunity in the American market, TomTom has opened its first office in the USA, located in Concord, MA. By the time their office was able to ship products in June 2003, Jocelyn Vigruex, President of TomTom USA, had selected NTS to service the retail sales distribution channel. NTS began receiving its first orders from American retail stores at the end of June.

ESRI announced that ArcWeb for Developers now includes National Geographic Society (NG) TOPO! 1:24,000- and 1:100,000-scale maps for the United States. These are the most detailed maps available for outdoor enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals. Subscribers to ArcWeb for Developers can access NG TOPO! maps as raster images in JPEG, GIF, PNG, or PNG8 format and include them in their Web applications.

Spescom Software Inc., formerly Altris Software, Inc. (OTC BB: ALTS), launched eB MAPS, a geographic information system (GIS) enabled software solution that will help officials prepare mitigation and response plans to terrorist attacks and natural disasters. eB MAPS enables emergency managers and planners to identify all critical infrastructures and key assets under their jurisdiction and get access to all related documents, records and data.

Customers of Toshiba's PDA Devices with Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Software Will Receive Exclusive Discounts on Pharos Pocket GPS Navigator Products. Pharos Science & Applications Inc., a provider of portable navigation products and location-based services, announced an agreement with Toshiba's Computer Systems Group (CSG), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., to offer Pharos Pocket GPS Navigator kits with its new Toshiba PDA devices featuring Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PCs.

Ubisense is a new Cambridge, UK-based company that develops unique system for internal and external tracking. Their product is a local positioning system (LPS), which can determine the precise location of people or objects in buildings or built up areas. The system offers users the chance to track in real time to an accuracy of better than 6 inches (15 cm), whereas existing Global Positioning System (GPS) technology can only operate outdoors and is accurate to within 30 feet (10 metres).

SiRF Technology, Inc. announced that its location solutions are at the heart of the new LinksPoint GlobalPoint GPS(TM), a global positioning system (GPS) receiver for use with Symbol Technologies' ruggedized handheld computers. GlobalPoint GPS is a second-generation handheld technology with a number of new features and enhancements to its widely acclaimed initial version. That version has been used for high-profile, mission-critical applications such as recovery efforts by the New York Fire Department at "Ground Zero," by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for field bio-terrorism investigations, and by utilities and enterprises worldwide for data collection and field force tracking.

Featured Downloads

GISCafe has many popular Downloads in various categories. Visitors are encouraged to go to the site and add new downloads or update their old ones.

Demo Software

Locator Application Demos Using SpatialFX and the company's new Web Application Framework they have constructed three fictional "customer web sites" that make use of location services. These demos are comprised of JSP's with HTML and image maps. And example: Pedal Path Tours A fictitious bike touring company in Colorado. The demo shows the store location and allows users to route themselves to the store.

Going on Around the Web

The Truth about XML The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is sometimes pitched as a better and less expensive way to trade e-commerce information than the stalwart electronic data interchange (EDI). But contrary to popular perceptions, XML can actually cost more than the systems many companies already have in place, and it isn't clear that most of them need the extra capabilities that XML offers. McKinsey Quarterly

Harry Potter and the Internet Pirates by Amy Harmon, NY Times, Monday, July 14, 2003

A growing number of Potter devotees around the world seem to be embracing the prospect of reading the voluminous new book (766 pages in the British edition; 870 in the American version) on the screen.

Teaching Computers to Work in Unison, by Steve Lohr NY Times, Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Going on in July

AGIT Symposium
Date: July 2 - 4, 2003
Place: Salzburg, Austria
15th Symposium and Exposition for Applied Geoinformatics for the German speaking GIS Community. Geo-government Conference on July 3

Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) Annual Conference
Date: July 3 - 5, 2003
Place: Asilomar, CA USA
6th Annual SCGIS Conference is designed for those who want to discuss and promote local and global conservation of natural and cultural resources through geospatial technologies. Technical sessions, field trip, scholarships available.

ESRI Education User Conference
Date: July 6 - 9, 2003
Place: San Diego, CA USA
Educators from all levels including college and university faculty, administrators, and librarians will have the opportunity to attend presentations and hands-on workshops that illustrate the benefits of geographic information system (GIS) technology. The conference consists of paper presentations, panel discussions, and a showcase that allow participants to learn about their peers applications of GIS in education. In addition, hands-on workshops in the computer labs will provide demonstrations of classroom activities and geographic analysis techniques.

2003 ESRI International User Conference
Date: July 7 - 11, 2003
Place: San Diego, CA USA
Wealth of information from ESRI staff, exhibitors, and business partners, and information about real-world applications of GIS software from the ESRI user community.

Avenza Systems Training
Date: July 10 - 11, 2003
Place: San Diego, CA USA MAPublisher training using MAPublisher 5.0 on Adobe Illustrator 10 on Windows. Given by Avenza technical and training staff.

Coastal Zone Management Through Time
Date: July 13 - 17, 2003
Place: Baltimore, MD USA
The Coastal Zone conference series is the premier international gathering of ocean and coastal management professionals.

SVG Open 2003 Conference & Exhibition
Date: July 13 - 18, 2003
Place: Vancouver, Canada
At the SVG Open 2003 Conference you will have the opportunity to learn about the SVG standard, how to use it to create effective and compelling Web content, techniques for developing SVG software solutions, and the latest developments from the Worldwide Web Consortium.

Smart Card Alliance July Conference
Date: July 15 - 17, 2003
Place: Arlington, VA USA
Smart Card Alliance will host "Smart Cards in Government 2003" bringing together leaders of the smart card movement within government.

MultiTemp-2003: Seconde International Workshop on the Analysis of Multi-Temporal Remote Sensing Images
Date: July 16 - 18, 2003
Place: European Commission Joint Research Centre Ispra (VA), Italy
The development of effective methodologies for the analysis of multitemporal data is one of the most important and challenging issues that the remote-sensing community should face in the next years. The importance and the timeliness of this issue are directly related to the ever increasing quantity of multi-temporal data provided by the numerous remote-sensing satellites that orbit around our planet. For this reason, the Second International Workshop on the Analysis of Multi-Temporal Remote Sensing Images (MultiTemp-2003) will be organized. Like MultiTemp-2001, it will be a high quality workshop, focusing on the methodological aspects of multi-temporal remote-sensing image analysis and on their applications.

Laser-Scan Partner and User Conference
Date: July 17 - 18, 2003
Place: Cambridge, United Kingdom

2nd Annual PPGIS Conference
Date: July 20 - 22, 2003
Place: Portland, OR USA
Public Participation GIS refers to a range of topics raised by the intersection of community interests and GIS technology. PPGIS Congress will bring together participants with a rich diversity of experience.

GML DEV DAYS 2003 Conference & Exhibition
Date: July 20 - 24, 2003
Place: Vancouver, Canada
Conference focuses on development, uses and features of Geography Markup Language (GML) and allied technologies to foster awareness and development of the Geo-Web.

Cambridge Conference Date: July 21 - 25, 2003
Place: St.John's College, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Share ideas on the use of geospatial data in the social and economic development of countries and regions. International gathering hosted by the Ordnance Survey .

SatNav 2003
Date: July 22 - 25, 2003
Place: Victoria, Australia
The Australian GPS Society invites you to SatNav 2003 - the 6th International Symposium on Satellite Navigation Technology Including Mobile Positioning and Location Services being held at Hyatt Melbourne, Victoria, Australia from 22-25 July 2003. For further information on the Symposium and FREE Membership to the Australian GPS Society please go to or email Email Contact

The Vespucci Initiative - Summer School on Geographic Information Science
Date: July 28 - August 8, 2003
Place: Pratolino (Florence), Italy Celebrating the fifth centenary of Vespucci's discoveries, the Vespucci Initiative recaptures his spirit of multi-disciplinary intellectual enquiry to explore new frontiers of knowledge. To that end it organizes and conducts a range of research and teaching activities, bringing together senior scientists and promising young researchers from around the world. What these researchers have in common is a special interest in the locational aspects of societal challenges. These aspects are being studied and exploited in the emerging field of Geographic Information Science and are being implemented within the GIS, Location Based Systems (LBS) and other industries.

FME Training Toronto
Date: July 28 - 29, 2003
Place: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Learn from the source how to use the core components of the Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) through hands-on training. During our two-day (1/3 lecture, 2/3 exercise and problem solving) training course, attendees learn to unlock the powerful features and functionalities of FME to more effectively manage their data translation and data transformation problems. Questions are encouraged throughout the class and attendees are encouraged to bring their own sample data files.