For those of you upgrading from a prior release to this latest release, the process should be quite smooth and quick.
If you are installing for the very first time, the install process will be a new install with the following steps that will be required for only the very first time you run the program:
It is highly recommended that the first time you run the application, that you ensure you are using a stable Internet connection. If the internet connection is weak, it could take quite a long time.
1) Request to load TTS;
2) Acceptance of the terms & conditions;
3) Loading of the databases;
4) For premium users, additional steps are required, specifically:
- Enter premium code (via the menu options)
- Exit the application and restart
- Reload remaining databases which is started automatically on the subsequent entry into the application
Please note that the above steps can take 3-5 minutes, but will be required only on the very first use of the software (or if you elect to reload the databases). Thereafter, the start-up time is much faster (e.g. a few seconds).
- I highly recommend that you install the TTS software option. This truly “augments” the hands-free tracking mode when driving. The software should still operate without the TTS installed if you so wish;
- I apologize for the long load time of the databases. Basically I am loading the camera Point Of Interest (POI) data from the internet, creating internal data structures, sorting for later faster accesses/searching by my custom algorithms (to ensure you get a truly real-time experience) and storing back to a local SQLite database for persistence. Note that all real-time data access is very internal memory via internal data structures. Access to the database is only for persistence of data. This application is designed for high performance (hence the higher than normal start-up logistics).
- You must accept the terms and conditions. After all, this software is free.
User Interface Options
This version of the help file is for the latest release (v0.98Beta). If you check under menu->show detailed info, the Software version should specify 0.98Beta”. If it does not, I strongly recommend that you upgrade via the marketplace.
There are three options from the main screen:
Option 1: Auto-Tracking start – press the tab at the bottom/left of the screen to invoke;
Option 2: Maps/Favourites –swipe UP to show a menu to select from several options;
Option 3: Augmented Reality – press the tab at the bottom/right of the screen to invoke;
Option 1: Auto-Tracking:
This mode is designed to be used when in the car. As such, it is truly a hands-free mode:
- I recommend that it be used in landscape mode to maximize the quality of the camera images.
- I use this mount in my car: http://canadagps.com/Mounkit_Arkon_Vent.html.
This mode does the following:
1) Determine the current location and the closest traffic camera to your current location;
2) If Smart Mode is disabled (default), it will determine the next 10 traffic cameras that are closest to you that are in the general direction that the software has automatically determined that you are moving towards:
3) This predictive mode will present cameras that may be in your future direction as there may be cases where you may elect to turn in a different direction (such as the 4-way cross highways 401 and DVP in Toronto). The software will automatically adapt to your new direction and present the cameras accordingly.
4) After every 10 images the real-time location centered traffic coloured map is presented (Toronto only for now, but can be added depending on demand for other cities). Audio cues are also played to alert the driver to this image presentation;
5) As camera locations are passed, the name of the location is emitted via Text to Speech (a useful guide while driving hands-free); The TTS is tuned to account for unusual names and/or localized nuances. Please let me know if a name is not pronounced properly in your city so I can tune this.
6) For those enabled with proximity alerts (red-light cameras, etc), a “radar” screen automatically pops-up showing the relative direction and distance of the alert target along with audible and visible cues. Once the target has passed, the radar screen automatically disappears and the image sequence of the future near-by cameras is resumed. Alternatively, the user can touch the screen (or press the back button) to immediately return to the auto-tracking image sequences.
- Note the top 10 intersections for accidents in the Toronto area are included as proximity alerts, if the Toronto area is selected (which it is by default if your location is not properly detected);
7) Note the software currently uses several advanced techniques to optimize the user experience in this mode. However, these techniques may need to be tuned over time as more user preferences are addressed to truly make it 100% “hands-free”. Your feedback is highly encouraged in this area.
8) The key purpose of this mode is to assist the driver in making the following decisions:
- Whether to stay (or get) on the highway or not;
- Determine what the traffic is like for the next few kilometres to help determine how congested the traffic really is or is not:
- Determine which lane on the 401 to switch to (e.g. collector or express);
- Determine how quickly a current trip will take (compared to a normal time) so that one can make more appropriate plans;
9) There is a SmartMode option available (starting in 0.97Beta):
- This is off by default. You can enable under menu->settings;
- Smart mode learns regular driving patterns and is meant for those that drive daily along a regular route which passes by a series of cameras and proximity alerts. Smart mode optimizes the presentation of such data to minimize the driver distractions and showing only the relevant cameras; I recommend enabling this if you drive regular patterms.
- Optimizes the cameras shown to be only the ones that you drive by in your normal driving patterns in auto-tracking mode;
- Optimizes the automated proximity alerts to not alert on POIs normally driven by – i.e. it will only alert if the POI is not normally encountered in your normal driving; This really helps with the annoying reports that you may encounter daily.
- Once you drive by a camera or POI that is not normally encountered, the smart mode is disabled for the rest of the session (and all cameras ahead and all POIs will be shown/alerted on);
- In radar mode for the proximity alerts, the POIs that are suppressed are shown as blue blips.
- There is also an icon that appears in tracking mode towards the top/left of the display (below the sounds icon) that will toggle this mode;
- When enabled a green status bar (the one on top of the compass status on the bottom of the screen) will be displayed:
One bar – smart mode has been temporarily disabled as a new POI or camera not previously in the learned path has been detected very close by;
Two bars – ready for learning mode – nothing learned as yet;
Three bars – one of the POIs or Cameras have completed its learning process (this will take several trips along the exact same route);
Four bars – all learning has been completed and smart mode is being applied in real-time;
10) As an option (by touching the toggle on/off icon that is shown in auto-tracking mode towards the bottom right of the display), the user can select a radar overlay of proximity alerts in auto-tracking mode:
- If there are traffic cameras close-by, this radar overlay is shown over the traffic camera image;
- If there are no traffic cameras close-by, then the radar overlay is shown by itself for a clearer image;
- The user can quickly enable/disable this overlay, There is a toggle icon towards the lower right of the screen;
- Targets are shown as red blips or icons ((currently police car and red-light cameras are differentiated):
- If Smart mode is enabled, then POIs that will be suppressed are shown as blue dots;
- Icons within 1km and are directly in the current direction of the car movement are circled in red;
- Icons within 1km and are a bit to the side of the current direction of the car movement are circled in blue (in case you decide to turn);
- Icons within 1-2 km that are in the current direction of the car movement are circled in blue;
- Icons within 1-2 km that are a bit to the side of the current direction of the car movement are shown;
- All other POIs are shown as red dots;
A radar sweep line moves clockwise. As the sweep line moves over the proximity POI that are shown as red dots, the type of POI is displayed via an icon.
There are 2 circles in this view. The inner circle represents a 1km border and the 2nd outer circle denotes 2km;
- As a proximity alert comes within 300 meters, the auto radar view (if enabled) will take over until the proximity POI moves away.
11) Smart Alerts:
- Construction maintenance events are spoken to the user when close by;
- Events are obtained in real-time;
- Touch the radar center in auto tracking mode to listen to the closest alert;
- SmartAlerts will show up on the radar screen if within 1-2 km;
- SmartAlerts are obtained when first starting auto-tracking mode, in the background (not radar showing mode needs to be on);
- SmartAlerts only work in Toronto for now;
While this option is fully automated (hands-free), there are a few options available that makes can further enrich the experience:
- Swiping UP or DOWN will toggle the auto-radar mode on/off
- Swiping LEFT or RIGHT will increase or decrease the time that a single image remains on the display before switching to the next image. The limits allowed for this time period range between 3 – 10 seconds. The reason for this is that depending on internet connectivity speeds, device network capabilities, car/traffic speeds and user preferences, different time periods would be optimal. This is a personal preference, so I decided to make it user settable and very easy to change “live”
- Touching on the volume icon in the top right will toggle the sounds – the TTS and Audio alerts are either both set to on, or both set to off. These settings are persistent.
- Touching on the tracking icon towards the bottom/right will enable/disable the real time proximity alert radar view. Note this icon will only be shown when auto-tracking is enabled.
- Touching on the Auto-Tracking tab (bottom/left) will disable the auto tracking and the Map/Favourite options are now available.
- See below for how to add your own proximity alerts.
Option 2: Favourites and Maps:
This option is enabled by default when starting the application.
Swiping UP will show an option of eight states (views/displays) (Toronto) and 4 options (other areas) to choose from. The user can select one options to switch to that view or swipe DOWN to remove the pop-up menu options.
The options available are:
- The closest traffic camera is shown (based on the current user’s location).
The initial state shows the image from the closest camera. Thereafter (via swiping left or right), the user can cycle through all of the cameras in the local database. In the Toronto area there are over 260 cameras. Note some of these cameras cover Ottawa and regions outside of Toronto. In Florida, there are over 600 cameras available.
- Three Favourite camera locations;
The application allows for three user-settable “Favourites” . A Favourite is a camera location plus the four closest cameras to that camera. There are five states when viewing a favourite:
The following are available in Toronto area only:
- Real-time traffic map centered around the current location of the phone – this screen is the only one in this option that is location specific (i.e. what is displayed is centered around the user’s current location);
- Real-time traffic map of the Toronto area (from another data source);
- Real-time traffic map of the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) – not location specific;
- Real-time traffic map of the Lakeshore area – not location specific
- One can move between the states above by swiping DOWN (except from the closest camera state). In this state, swiping DOWN allows the user to set the current camera image being viewed to one of the three favourites.
- Swipe UP from any state will bring up the pop-up menu to choose any of the states.
- Swiping LEFT or RIGHT moves between images in the closest camera and favourites states.
- Swiping LEFT or RIGHT zooms out and in respectively when viewing the real-time local traffic map
- Touching on the volume icon in the top right will toggle the sounds – the TTS and Audio alerts are both set to on or both set to off. These settings are persistent.
- I am happy to consider adding traffic cameras for other cities, email me so I can put your city on the list to consider.
- To add a camera, I require the following:
- Lat and Long of the camera position;
- Pointer to the image on the internet;
- Name of the location of the camera.
User Configurable Settings
The menu options are as follows:
Show Detailed Info – shows information on location, internal POI details, favourites, software version and user privileges. This is a good option to select to confirm that POI databases got loaded properly.
Settings – allows the following settings to be configured on/off or changed
Speech Prompts – Text to speech
Audio Alerts – Various audible cues are used to aid the user.
Auto-Compass Mode – Enables/disables the automatic radar view (in Auto-Tracking mode) when proximity alerts are close by.
Auto-Start – Enables the Auto-Tracking mode automatically upon start of the application for a “one-touch” start up user experience.
Enable Radar View in Tracking – Used to enable the proximity alerts radar, real time view when in auto-tracking mode;
Local Area of Interest – to select the city of interest. The cameras are loaded based on “regions”. A city is part of a “region”. There could be multiple cities in a region. The region are based on relative proximity. If the user wants to switch to a city in a different region, the new data is loaded (and the prior one is removed). This is done for performance reasons and to minimize the memory used. If the user want to switch to a city in the same region, no new data is required to be loaded.
Inter-Image time when tracking – the amount of time that the Auto-Tracking mode will display one image for.
Enable Screen Disable Timeout – if set on, will force screen to never timeout (useful in auto tracking mode). Previous setting is restored on exit. This is disabled by default.
Enable Smart Mode in Tracking – if set on, this will NOT display proximity alerts along the routes travelled before and DISPLAY ONLY cameras along the route travelled before. This mode will automatically turn off (for the rest of the application session if a new area is detected). This is disabled by default and it is recommended to only enabled this option if you truly travel a route every day and want the presentation of information to be optimized. There is also an icon (that is displayed in auto-tracking mode towards the bottom left of the display that will also toggle this mode.
Save Current Location – saves the Latitude/Longitude of the current location of the phone. This location can be viewed (guided back to) in the AR view mode.
Detailed Help– brings up this detailed help information in the browser. Press the back button to return to the application.
Reload POI Databases – allows the user to refresh the internal custom and proximity alerts POIs when that information is updated.
Enter Premium Access Code – option to allow a Premium access code to be entered to gain premium access.
Show Preview Video–short-cut to the youtube video showing an overview of this application.
Video on Proximity Alerts – short-cut to the youtube video showing an overview of the automated proximity alerts feature of this application.
Load New Trapster – Option to load in the unique Trapster POIs (user provided)..
Exit – to purposely exit the program (as much as the Android OS allows for an exit).
Selecting a menu option will disable auto-tracking if it was on;
Option 3: Augmented Reality:
The Augmented Reality (AR) view provides for a real-time overlay of information over the local camera’s preview view. This information includes several modes:
1) Local traffic cameras – the cameras shown on the AR view will depend on their relative distance and bearing to the phones current location. The blips representing the cameras will move as the camera moves. The bearing and distance is used to compute each camera’s blip position, within the AR view, during each refresh of the AR view.
2) Local real estate listings that are for sale (this is in alpha mode as it’s not yet real time enough). This should work anywhere in Canada (it has only been tested in the Toronto area).
3) Custom POIs (loaded by the user). This view allows for customization by the user. It be used (for example) to see all of the local star-bucks and their addresses. It is up to the user to provide the POI file. See below for more information on how to load a custom POI file.
4) Other modes are in development and test and are available for premium users (aka testers).
Note the mini compass view in the top right of the display. The orientation of the compass view (as denoted by the N, S, W and E markers) changes in real time. Within the display there are colour coded points which represent the POIs that are in scope for viewing. The narrower “V” like markings denote the POIs that are within the current AR’s view. Rotating the phone accordingly allows the user to select the other POIs for the AR view. The compass allows the user to see where these POIs are in respect to the current phone’s orientation. The color coded POIs are as follows:
Black – Traffic Cameras;
Green – Real Estate Listings;
Red – Live POIs (Premium mode only);
Blue – Custom POIs or the User Saved Location.
There is a mini status line along the bottom of the view which displays context sensitive information:
- GPS accuracy;
- # of traffic cameras that are local;
- # of real estate listings that are local;
- Postal code of last location used to generate listings and the newest postal code area detected.
The compass status is displayed in the bottom right corner. There are four states:
One bar – basically no valid input from the compass available;
Two bars – Low signal;
Three bars – Medium signal;
Four bars – High signal
Note the other modes, also shows the compass status in a similar manner.
The overlay view is updated when in states: low, medium and high. Shaking the compass vigorously (and turning over and over) will help to get the compass into a usable state.
The user has the following options in the AR view:
- Press the back hardware button to return to the Augmented Traffic View main menu screen;
- Swipe UP or touch on within the mini-compass area to bring up the options screen. The options presented will depend on the user type (normal or Premium):
- Live POIs option (Premium) – meant for testing for future features with selected users; on/off control of the live POIs;
- Cameras in view – this is a tri-state option: full, 50% or none to allow the user to control the clutter that may appear in the AR view;
- Custom POIs – on/off toggle to display the custom POIs and the saved location POI as selected by the user;
- Compass – on/off toggle to show larger directional arrows on the AR view to guide the user back to the saved location (can be used as a return to my car feature);
- Details – on/off toggle to show more detailed information in the bottom status screen.
- Real Estate – on/off toggle (Premium)
- Swipe down – will disable the options buttons on the screen to return to an uncluttered AR view. Using the swipe UP and DOWN actions on the display, the user can select/control the options very quickly. Moreover it allows for a “one-hand” control of the AR view which is rather convenient.
- Press the radar/compass overlay area in the top right corner to enable/disable the overlay updating. This is useful to freeze the overlay while the camera image continues to be updated so that the information on the overlay can be read at one’s pace. Note the touch screen is still active in this mode and is quite useful to not be so “position” dependent in the AR mode;
- The radar/compass is shown in red when the overlay is “frozen”.
- It is shown in green otherwise.
Traffic AR View
- The location of the camera is displayed next to the blip for each camera once the blip (camera position) is within a range on the camera display (e.g. it is not displayed if the blip is on the far left or far right on the display. This avoids some clutter on the AR view;
- One can touch each blip/name to show the actual camera view from the selected camera. The selected camera’s blip is colour coded to denote that it has been selected and that its image is in view.
- Each touch triggers a 5 seconds timer – the display will revert to the original default AR view after 5 seconds. If one touches another camera on the screen, the image from that camera is shown (and the timer is reset to 5 seconds). The user can keep selecting between the various camera blip’s images. Only when the screen is not touched for 5 seconds, will the default AR view be shown.
- Along the right edge of the AR view, there is a vertical slider with a top bar and a bottom bar:
- The top bar represents the maximum distance and the bottom bar represents the minimum distance;
- The user can slide each bar up/down within limits to adjust the min and max. The cameras in view are adjusted to be within the bars;
- Note to use the slider press and hold down and slide then press up at the new position to set. The slider should move in distinct increments while being moved.
- The distance shown within each slider shows the actual distances that are used to filter the view;
- The full range of the slider covers the max and min of all of the local cameras in range (that would be in the AR view).
Real Estate AR View
- A search is done based on current position. The listings for the single postal code for your current location are obtained each time.
- The listings obtained for one AR session are accumulated for viewing. Exiting the AR view will remove these listings.
- Note the total number of listings found and the latest postal codes used (based on current lat/long location) are displayed in the status screen at the bottom.
- The price and address of the listings are displayed when in (view) range. Note that the lat/lon of the listings are not precise in the AR view. This is due to a combination of the data sources and the decision to sacrifice location accuracy for speed in obtaining data.
- Touch on the icon representing the listings to see a picture of the property in the background. The picture disappears automatically after 5 seconds, unless another icon is touched (in which case the timer is reset to 5 seconds).
- Touch on the smaller icon picture along the left side to invoke a browser with the listing details – fully zoom/scrolling available. Press the back hardware button to return to the AR view.
- It takes about 10-60 seconds to collect the real-time info. It is mostly dependent on the speed of the internet connection.
- To refresh the data you need to refresh via an option presented in the pop-up menu (or exit the AR view and restart the AR view)
- Note that some postal code areas will have ZERO listings. This is normal (unless the housing market heats up more).
- In real-estate mode, there are some addition options in the pop-up menu that are specific to the real-estate mode (initiated via a SWIPE UP):
- Refresh Real-Estate info – this is useful for when moving to another postal code area (as the real estate search is postal code sensitive);
- Update Postal Code – this is useful to see the local postal code (in case it has changed due to location change);
- SetDemo Real Estate – this is used for demos/testing. The postal code is hard-coded to ensure there is (likely) at least one listing available.
It is expected that the normal position of the phone in the car that it is in a car holder on the dash/vent area somewhere vertically or horizontally positioned.
The application does have an option to modify the screen time out parameter (menu->settings), if it is set too short and you use auto-tracking mode, the screen will go dim and must be “touched” to brighten back the display. You may adjust your screen timeout parameters accordingly or enable this option. The application will restore the original settings if properly terminated.
Note that the Android compass sometimes needs to be re-calibrated. This will result in the augmented reality view to be sticky (i.e. not moving 360 degrees). To correct this, please shake the phone vigorously and move away from magnetic sources if in the area Also, avoid cases with magnetic flaps.
Note sometimes the camera preview will not show at all when returning from using the real-estate listings to the AR view option (if an out of memory condition is detected). Exiting the AR view and restarting the AR view should allow the camera preview to be properly shown.
Haptic feedback is provided for several input requests where haptic feedback can help confirm input has been received. It is not in every input field nor is it configurable. In general if it is not a swipe input, haptic feedback is provided.
Note the application is only meant to be run when needed and is not meant to be running all of the time. Please consider this from a battery drain perspective. The application does not query the GPS when it is not in foreground mode. As long as you move the application to background mode when not using the application, then the battery drain should not be an issue.
The real-estate mode is meant to be used in a walking around (or driving mode) to get immediate information on houses in view that are very close-by. It is not meant for general area searches. This mode requires much more usability testing and thus it will evolve over the near future.
It is expected that the user has already enabled GPS. The application will detect this, and issue a warning alert, but will continue. Key features will not work completely until the user properly enables GPS.
User Provided Proximity Alerts
The application will supported for a POI CSV files located at
1) “/sdcard/waypoints.csv” (i.e. stored on the local SD card). This has been tested with data from Phantomalert.com
2) “/sdcard/trapster-speed-trap-0.csv” (i.e. stored on the local SD card). This has been tested with data from trapster.com
3) “/sdcard/trapster-redlight-camera-0.csv” (i.e. stored on the local SD card). This has been tested with data from trapster.com
The files are hard-coded so that the application can automatically detect and load the information once it is provided by the user.
To load #1, selects menu->Reload POI Databases.
To load #2+3, selects menu->Load New Trapster.
It is up to the user to provide valid csv files. I have tested with CSV files downloaded from http://phantomalert.com/ and trapster.com (as noted above). They cover the Toronto area and it is worth the fee (if any IMO). Please do not ask me for these files as I will not provide them. You will need to obtain them from phantomalert.com directly or trapster.com.
- Simply select CSV download and the “Canada” area and selected the alerts you want;
- Download the file; Note the first row is a column header row and is ignored.
- Copy to the SD card (make sure the file name is as per #1 above).
- Note the program will help to only load in POIs local to the GTA or Winnipeg or San Francisco areas (currently); Note you do need to select the area in menu-> settings. You can confirm that the POIs are loaded via menu->Show Detailed Info. In the GTA area (as of late July), this number should be @ 1732. This means that 1732 proximity alert POIs have been loaded into the system. In auto-tracking mode, these alerts will be automatically notified to the user.
- It is now possible to select “other” location to load POIs anywhere in the world. However, you will need to control the scope as the app will not prune to a bounding rectangle (as with the other locations).
- Up to 4000 proximity alerts can be loaded currently.
- Simply select the Garmin, TomTom, other navigation device alerts option.
- Select your area – match the location in Settings to match (Toronto, Winnipeg, …). Use other if not listed.
- Select your confidence level, etc.
- Hit download and save the two files to your local disk. Copy to the SD card (make sure the file name are as per #2 and #3 above).
- Select the menu->load new trapster option, wait and check under menu->Detailed Info to ensure the #phantom count has been increased (this will tell you the # total in the DB).
- In the GTA area with both Phantom and trapster (only high confidence POIs), I get just over 2200 unique POIs.
CSV files from other sources may be supported as long as they conform to the following (for each row):
- Long, lat, Description of POI
- Each row terminated by \n
- Email me if you have any problems and I will test and adjust the software if necessary.
If you update the file on the SD card, you can select menu->Reload POI Databases (for Phantom) and menu->Load New Trapster (for Trapster) to reload the data in the application. Note you must do this as the program will not automatically do this.
- Note loading the phantom alerts DB (or via Reload POI Databases option), will delete all of the proximity alerts (including the Trapster ones). Whereas loading the trapster DB (via Load New Trapster) will NOT delete the Phantom POIs. This is because I am giving priority to the Phantom Alerts POIs in terms of priority. The trapster POIs complement the Phantom alert POIs. I may consider changing this is the demand is there.
- Note it is possible to only have Trapster POIs (since they are free): Basically just load as per above and it should work.
User Provided Custom POIs
The application will supported for a Custom POI CSV files located at
“/sdcard/custom.csv” (i.e. stored on the local SD card).
The file is hard-coded so that the application can automatically detect and load the information once it is provided by the user.
- The custom POIs are shown in a separate AR view (if Custom POIs are enabled).
- There may be future enhancements in this area.
- The program will use the icon stored (if any) at /sdcard/icon.jpg to represent the custom POI in the AR view; Otherwise, a default icon will be used.
It is up to the user to provide a valid csv file. For example, files from http://www.pocketgpsworld.com/modules.php?name=POIs are supported. I have tested with CSV files from them. They cover the Toronto and many other areas and most are available for free.
Simply select CSV download and the “Canada” area and selected the alerts you want;
1. Download the file;
2. Copy to the SD card;
3. Note the program will only load in POIs local to the GTA or Winnipeg or San Francisco areas (currently); Note you do need to select the area in menu-> settings. You can confirm that the POIs are loaded via menu->Show Detailed Info.
- It is now possible to select “other” location to load POIs anywhere in the world. However, you will need to control the scope as the app will not prune to a bounding rectangle (as with the other locations).
- Up to 500 custom POIs can be loaded currently.
CSV files are supported as long as they conform to the following:
- Long, lat, Short description, Long Description of POI (this one is shown in the AR view).
- Each row terminated by \n
If you update the file on the SD card, you can select menu->Reload POI Databases to reload the data in the application. Note you must do this as the program will not automatically do this (except for the very first time the file is created and detected by the application).