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Webraska obtains land-mark patent for CD-ROM-less navigation using mobile phones.

Internet-based Distributed Navigation (IbDN) on mobile phones to make car navigation systems obsolete.

Paris, October 6, 1999. Webraska Mobile Technologies SA, the leading provider of real-time mapping and guidance WAP services for mobile phones, announced today that it was awarded a patent for ‘an interactive process for use as a navigational aid and device for its implementation’. The invention relates to a system to be used as a navigation aid comprising a mobile terminal wirelessly linked to a centralised server, and more specifically to the improvements required to convert a mobile phone into a complete and precise navigational aid system.

Until now, most car navigation systems have been designed around a fixed equipment permanently installed on the dashboard. They include a large display, a CD-ROM for storing digital cartographic data, computing resources to calculate the best route to destination, and a GPS receiver to obtain a precise position, which is required to provide turn-by-turn real-time guiding instructions.

These current systems are non-portable, expensive, and depend on cartographic data which are almost immediately obsolete and limited to a specific area.

The innovation, for which the patent was filed in April 1997, is called IbDN (Internet-Based Distributed Navigation). It proposes to use wireless cellular phones as replacement to car navigation systems. Cartographic data and routing computation is done on a Internet digital map server. A micro-navigation on the mobile terminal receives a limited portion of mapping data corresponding to the route computed and its immediate surrounding, and, relating it with GPS or other positioning methods, provides real-time guidance.

More important than the technological innovation, I believe that the real benefit for the final end user will come from the fact that these expensive car navigation products will be replaced by services that will be paid for only when they are really being used”, explains Jean-Michel Durocher, Webraska’s CEO. “And even more importantly perhaps, IbDN establishes a personalised relationship with the subscribers of the service, helping them solve urban hassles day after day.

Mobile phone subscribers will more and more look to their telecom operators to help them answer, at any time and in real-time, questions such as ‘Where am I?, How do I get from here to where I need to go?.

Personal navigation, helping mobile customers find their way to the nearest ATM, gas station, car parking or whatever, is right at the centre of our services strategy”, says Giles Corbett, Cegetel / SFR manager of value added services. “Working with Webraska on their distributed approach has put us in a position to offer the world’s best such service.

Mobile phones are already used by 300 million people in the world, much more that what car navigation systems can hope to achieve in 20 years”, adds Gregoire Descamps, Webraska’s business development manager. “Mobile telecom operators will be the key providers of services that solve mobility needs, whether by foot, public transportation or in the car. Mobile phones will make car navigation systems obsolete.

Mobile Internet is much more than ‘Internet anywhere from any device’, says Jean-Michel Durocher, “It’s about changing the real-world economy, the one in action when you’re out in the street, in your car, in the bus, at the corner store or the gas station.

The missing link between car equipment and telematic services, IbDN could be extremely popular. “We expect the market for IbDN to exceed 2 billion dollars by 2005”, adds Mr. Durocher. “Although IbDN can be used on wrist watches or car radio, mobile phones are the perfect tool for personal guidance

Webraska’s IbDN is the first market proven technology to take navigation out of the car and to make it accessible to anyone”, supports Richard d’Humières, TeleAtlas’ Sales & Marketing manager for France. “Navigation and location related services will become in the near future a commodity to car drivers but also to pedestrians and public transport users. Tele Atlas strongly encourages its partner Webraska for developing new usage for its highest quality maps and congratulates them with their very innovative and promising patent.

IbDN is a step in the right direction, thinks Laurent Meillaud, journalist and author of the ‘Guide of the Intelligent Car’. “Although prices for car navigation systems are continuously going down, the car driver remains locked with map data that rapidly becomes obsolete, because it is stored on a CD-ROM. The 21st century will be, before anything else, the one of mobility. Tools such as mobile phones and PDAs might become a must to access such services, from outside the car as well as inside.

With more and more computing power, colour screens, with WAP and Java compatibility that will create the necessary standardisation to make functionality of this type easily adapted by all phone manufacturers, with GPRS to allow for data links at more than 100 kbit/s, with GPS and other positioning methods being normalised, mobile phones have all the capabilities required to make IbDN possible.

IbDN has an additional benefit: it is designed to support interaction with other content providers, such as traffic information suppliers,” explains Tania Gunther, Webraska’s partner alliance manager. “As soon as such contents are available on the Internet, IbDN servers such as Webraska’s can automatically reference and layer them. Street-level, GPS ready precise digital maps are of course a prerequisite, and we are delighted to work with TeleAtlas Intelligent maps that cover most of Europe.

Other elements covered in the patent involve the use of Distributed Speech Recognition to perform vocal requests, the use of Distributed Differential GPS to increase positioning precision, and several improvements that will make IbDN even more powerful than car-centric navigation.

Webraska’s IbDN technology and services are available for licensing to mobile telephony operators as well as phone & car equipment manufacturers.

About Webraska

Webraska Mobile Technologies S.A. is the world's first provider of real-time traffic maps on GSM screens using WAP, turning mobile phones into personal traffic co-pilots.

For Telecom operators looking for value-added services improving their subscribers’ quality of life, Webraska's network-based virtual urban assistant offers real-time personalised solutions that save time and help solve all urban travel hassles.

Unlike on-board CD-ROM-based navigation products available in luxury cars, Webraska integrates directly on the Internet the data and technology required to guide mobile phone users on the move all the way to their destination, combining street-level cartography, real-time traffic information, public transportation networks, localised content, location means & route optimisation technology.

Webraska's patented technology and services, hosted on Europe’s largest street-level digital map Internet servers and in partnerships with leading traffic information providers, are available exclusively through telecom operators.

Webraska. Real-time maps and guidance on your mobile phone.

For more information, please visit http://www.webraska.com

Or contacts :
Catherine Besson
Tel :+33 (0)1 39 22 63 04
Fax:+33 (0) 1 30 22 63 44
Email: [email protected]