If you're already a fan of in-car GPS*, then you may be interested in a live update service for GPS - SUNA Traffic Channel. It will offer real-time traffic information for GPS navigation systems to help drivers avoid traffic snarls. Suna identifies traffic congestion levels using data from traffic light control systems, as well as probe vehicles in known congested areas, as well as good old human observation. It broadcasts in an encoded digital format via the FM frequency directly to compatible navigation devices. I have yet to see Suna in action, but the service was demo'd in Melbourne last week on Siemens VDO, Garmin and Mio devices. They're aiming to tie up relationships with SatNav device companies so that around November time frame you can buy SatNat devices with the Suna service built in. Pricing will be set by the device retailers - at the demo last week the expected price being bandied around was the $200-$300 mark for a lifetime sub. But retailers may choose to offer it as a free addon to their device, or as a monthly subscription. SUNA is now being broadcast over 101.1FM in Melbourne. Test broadcasts have begun across 97.3FM in Brisbane and on 106.5FM in Sydney with a view to launching in mid-2008. Adelaide and Perth can expect the service in late 2008. They'll also make an online, XML-based feed of the SUNA Traffic Channel available to developers and providers of internet-based traffic portals, smart phones and the logistics sector. SUNA is made by Intelematics Australia, but the silly duffers don't seem to have sent their Suna Traffic Channel website live yet.
*If you're not a fan of GPS, I'd love to know why. I've had the chance to see the Tom Tom in action a couple of times, and its ability to plan a route for you, show it onscreen, as well as talking you through the directions as you go (take the next left, etc) has won me over. Especially it's ability to rejig your route if you get lost. (Not that I get lost that often. Really.)