We’re just back from navigating around London’s Hyde Park with Olympian James Cracknell and Nokia’s GPS-enabled N95 loaded with the company’s latest software release, Sports Tracker. Nokia is the sponsor for this year’s Bike Week (underway right now), and Sports Tracker is part of the reason why.
Potentially another nail in the coffin for traditional paper-based maps [oh yeah? – Luddite ed.], Nokia’s Sports Tracker is a free-to-download application that makes use of the GPS facility of several of the telecommunication giant’s mobile phones, enabling the tracking of statistics such as distance, speed, altitude, average speed and location, turning your phone into a digital training diary. Photos and video can also be added too, with images geo-tagged to the location they’re taken.
The really clever bit, though, is the Sports Tracker website, which allows you to upload your workout so you can dissect your route, marvel at the distance covered, check out your photos and share with friends, family or other Sports Tracker users. Once routes are added to the website, they can be downloaded by other users and followed, and it’s Nokia’s intention that as more and more of its users add to the database, so the variety and number of routes and sharing opportunities will grow.
It’s all very clever stuff, and we got the chance to try it out first-hand recently when Nokia invited us out to London’s Hyde Park and, each equipped with a Nokia phone running the Sports Tracker app, were asked to navigate a short route. It wasn’t the most challenging ride ever, but enough to allow us to get under the skin of this new release. And it’s all very easy to use. Simply press the ‘start’ button and the current position is shown, along with just about every item of statistical information any tech-savvy cyclist is likely to need.
It’s all clearly displayed on the generously-sized colour screen, and the available information can be scrolled through at the push of a button. The phone is held in place via a rugged clamp zip-tied to the handlebars, with a simple but effective rubber band holding the Nokia phone in place. As well as providing all the information anyone could ask for, is the ability of the phone’s Maps navigation tool to show position in relation to your environment, providing locations of nearby pubs, cafes and cake shops – which immediately gets our thumbs up.
Once our mission was successfully completed, it was off to a local pub wherein the ease with which the data from the Sports Tracker application can be uploaded to the website was demonstrated. Much laughter ensued over the pitifully low average speeds we achieved on our admittedly leisurely ride, all set against the backdrop of a unique once-if-a-lifetime challenge of competing against James Cracknell at Rollapaluza roller-racing (more of that in a future article).
The Sports Tracker website is still in beta, but its success will depend on many Nokia users uploading and sharing their routes with the growing community. It’s also possible to provide a live stream of a ride, as Cracknell did when he rode the 1,400 miles through France and Spain recently. Those familiar with BM’s attempt last year at plotting our route while riding the MaXx Exposure will sense the excitement with this facet of the product. It’s all very clever stuff indeed.
This is one smart application, and Nokia is keen to push it to their existing base of N-series phone customers, numbering some 1.5 million in the UK. Since GPS became available to the mass market, devices that make use of the technology have been getting smaller and, crucially, cheaper, and Nokia’s introduction is one of a few that look genuinely useful to cyclists.