With Google’s near-monopoly on the internet, it can be difficult to get around in cyberspace without encountering at least some aspect of this monolithic, data-gathering giant. It usually takes a concerted effort, but it is technically possible to do. While [Mat] is still using some Google products, he has at least figured out a way to get Google Home to work with location data without actually sharing that data with Google, which is a step in the right direction.
[Mat]’s goal was to use Google’s location sharing features through Google Home, but without the creepiness factor of Google knowing everything about his life, and also without the hassle of having to use Google Maps. He’s using a few things to pull this off, including a NodeRED server running on a Raspberry Pi Zero, a free account from If This Then That (IFTTT), Tasker with AutoRemote plugin, and the Google Maps API key. With all of that put together, and some configuration of IFTTT he can ask his Google assistant (or Google Home) for location data, all without sharing that data with Google.
This project is a great implementation of Google’s tools and a powerful use of IFTTT. And, as a bonus, it gets around some of the creepiness factor that Google tends to incorporate in their quest to know all the data.
Continue reading “Location Sharing with Google Home”
If you live out in the boondocks, out of reach from the Google Maps car, you might have noticed there aren’t too many pictures of your area on the Internet. Mapillary is hoping to change that with crowdsourced photos of the entire planet, with mobile apps that snap a pic and upload it to the web. [sabas1080] is bringing this capability to the most popular ARM dev board out there, the Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi is not a phone, the usual way to upload pics to Mapillary. There’s no GPS, so geotagging is out of the question. The Pi doesn’t have a camera or a screen, and if you’re taking pictures of remote locations, a battery would be a good idea.
All these pieces are available for the Pi, though; [sabas1080] sourced a display from Adafruit, the camera is a standard Raspi affair, and the GPS is a GY-NEO6MV2 module from the one of the numerous Chinese retailers. Add a big power bank battery, and all the hardware is there.
The software is where this build gets tricky. Mapillary has a nice set of free tools written in Python, no less, but this is only part of the build. [sabas1080] needed to connect the camera, set up the display, and figure out how to make everything work with the Mapillary tools. In the end, [sabas] was able to get the entire setup working as a programmable, mobile photo booth.
Biking cross-country is a worthwhile pursuit, but then you’ll have to deal with terrible drivers, rain, bugs, and heat. [Jeff Adkins] over at lowendmac has a neat solution to exploring the country via bicycle without ever leaving the safety and air conditioning of your basement.
For his build, [Jeff] used a magnetic reed switch attached to the frame of his stationary bike and the pedal crank. Whenever the pedal crank is turned, a reed switch closes on every revolution. This reed switch is connected to a new Arduino Leonardo programmed to transmit keyboard presses to a computer for every five revolutions of the pedal. From there, it’s a simple matter of loading up Google Streetview on a laptop and letting the Arduino automatically advance through Streetview images while pedaling.
The next part of [Jeff]’s project will be adding left and right buttons to his stationary bike to navigate Google Streetview images without taking his hands off the handlebars. You can check out a demo of [Jeff] cruising around after the break.
Continue reading “Bike cross country in your basement with Google Streetview”
[Jeroen’s] student project is a module that uses GPS tracking to create travel data on Google maps. It’s not really a spy device as the data isn’t transmitted, but would be a lot of fun to use on cycling and hiking adventures. A PIC 18F2550 reads location and altitude data from a GPS receiver as well as data from an accelerometer. This information can be displayed on an attached touchscreen display and it is also saved to a pair of EEPROMs. When you get back from your trip, the data pulled from the device via a serial connection is processed by [Jeroen’s] C# application and used to overlay the route on a google map. He’s got a source code package available for download but we’ve saved you the trouble if the schematic is all you’re after. It’s attached after the break.
Continue reading “Location recorder and mapper”
[Ryan O’Hara] built a location tracker he could use on motorcycle trips. Ostensibly this is to give his wife piece of mind be we think that was an excuse to play with GPS and SMS. To stand up to the trials of the road [Ryan] took his breadboarded prototype to the next level, using a manufactured board and a SparkFun enclosure. Tucked safely away is a PIC 18F25K20 gathering longitude and latitude from a GM862, formatting the info into a Google Maps link, and sending it to the Twitter feed via an SMS message. If you’re not familiar with the GM862, in addition to being a GPS module it can send and receive cellular data on a GSM network.
This is a nice solid hardware platform from which we can envision a couple of other hacks. The feed could be parsed to make a nice map graphic like the webpage for that Twittering Road Bike. It also might be nice to have a d-pad and character LCD to post your own tweets to the feed at the end of the day.
Though not from scratch, [Avbrand] integrated a powerful set of tools into his Subaru station wagon. The system was compiled from off the shelf electronics, such as a Compaq notebook, 3G USB modem, touch screen, and an assortment of other peripherals. It is based around Windows XP, though most of the carputer-specific applications, such as backup camera integration, Google Maps – based car tracking, and automatic volume control had to be custom coded by [Avbrand] himself. Perhaps the single most impressive and useful feature of the system is synchronization with highway traffic cameras. The system streams video of segments of the highway before [Avbrand] gets to them, allowing him to make more informed navigational choices. He documents it pretty well on his website.
Traffic monitoring has been available on Google Maps for some time, but has been limited to highways and major roads. According to the Google LatLong blog, traffic tracking support is now available for smaller surface roads in select cities. The data is gathered through mobile phones running My Location. Anybody wishing to help out can sign up their phone and opt into My Location to participate in the anonymous data collection. Now you won’t have to gamble on whether or not your back road alternative route is congested when there’s construction on the freeway. Dash tried something similar with their two-way traffic reporting, but we’re guessing that Google’s version will have even better performance thanks to a rapidly increasing install base.