The day started at 10:00 at the Gizmondo store in London's Regent Street. The store has demonstration areas where you can try the Gizmondo, and of course you can buy it there. There are also "chill out" zones where customers can take advantage of a free WiFi hotspot, and is this spot hot or what?
PocketGPSWorld in true media style managed to get an invite to the Gizmondo launch. Only one slight problem, we got our wires crossed with the PR company and turned up at 8:30 at the Park Lane Hotel in London's Piccadilly. I turned up with my notepad, a sharpened pencil and my camera. Oops wrong venue. It turns out that rather than attending the launch of the Gizmondo we were actually at the Launch Party! Not only that but we were not on the list. I soon sorted that out and Matt and I were in.
The Gizmondo PR guys really know how to do things, no expense spared we were treated to free drinks all night, and some absolutely stunning entertainment. The evening was hosted by Tom Green From MTV and Danni Minogue. Gizmondo wheeled out a whole cast of stars from Verne Troyer (Mini Me from Austin Powers) to heavyweight champion boxer Lennox Lewis.
For the musical entertainment we started the evening with Sting, I couldn’t believe it: Sting an opening act! Sting was followed by Jamiroquai and the evening culminating with Busta Rhymes. A real treat and something for most peoples tastes (except my dad).
During a pause between tracks Jay Kay was talking about a six month ban and a significant fine. He obviously has not been using the PocketGPSWorld.com safety camera database!
In true PocketGPSWorld style we managed to blag our way into the VIP area where we rubbed shoulders with celebrities like Myleene and Caprice, along with many other famous television personalities. Not only that but somehow I managed to get invited into the roped off area for "family only" with the best view of the venue. Either I am getting good at this or PocketGPSWorld.com is becoming well known.
Of course this event was all about the Gizmondo, and there were at least five of them there. Matt, soon to be our Gizmondo specialist, was let loose on one for the first time, and he became so involved he forgot to oggle at the girls. What technology does for the younger generation!
It was quite interesting seeing Danny Minogue waving a Gizmondo about shouting GPS. I wonder if she actually knows what GPS is? Well she does now.
Anyway back to the Gizmondo. This is the latest "must have" gadget. It is, at its heart, a games console. What makes it different is that it has an embedded GPS receiver, which combined with GSM/GPRS opens a whole new world of opportunity for the gaming community: Geo-gaming. As the Gizmondo always knows where it is (if it has a fix) it can report its position back to a central server. This server can keep track of all the Gizmondo users in the same game and start to get the users to interact with each other. This takes the role playing games, which most youngsters are addicted to, to a new level in the real world.
At the launch the Gizmondo has three games available with a whole raft of software in development. The current lineup is (released ones marked in red):
- Angel Fish
- Conflict: Desert Storm II
- Conflict: Vietnam
- Fallen Kingdoms
- Furious Phil
- Interstellar Flames 2
- Johnny Whatever
- Milo and the Rainbow Nasties
- Momma Can I Mow the Lawn?
- Richard Burns Rally
- Speedgun Stadium
- Sticky Balls
- Stuntcar Extreme
- Super Drop Mania
- The Great Escape
None of the released games make use of the GPS functionality yet. That will be coming soon with the urban warfare game Colors. The concept behind this game is that you create a Geo-Fence defining your turf. You then challenge anyone who crosses your borders. You can even alter your gang to have your own image on the avatar.
Now is this particularly interesting to most PocketGPSWorld.com readers? Well maybe not, but what is of interest is the fact that the system is based on the Windows CE.net framework. This opens up all sorts of possibilities. There are already quite a few navigation applications out there for Win CE.Net. Last week at CeBIT we saw a demonstration of TomTom Navigator 5 running on the Gizmondo, and TomTom have added it to their compatibility list for TomTom Mobile.
Other applications that run on Windows CE.net include Navigon, Destinator, PrymeNav, Anquet, OziExplorer. Having said that there is no guarantee that these will work, but the opportunity is there.
Another feature of the Gizmondo is the capability for true localised advertising. As the GPS always knows where you are there is a golden opportunity to provide real localised advertising. Imagine walking down the street and suddenly the Gizmondo tells you there is a McDonalds 500 metres northwest on the High Street?
Strangely although the Gizmondo has a GSM/GPRS module built in it doesn’t actually work as a mobile phone! You can text with it, but you can’t make a phone call.
It is difficult to say how good the Gizmondo really is and how engaging and realistic the interactive GPS games are. We will have to wait until we get our review samples and give them a good work out before we can tell. One thing is for sure: Gizmondo have not spared the pennies developing and promoting the device. They have some stiff competition out there,
I think that a hybrid device like this could really open a new frontier in the realms of Location Based Services. Time will tell if the Gizmondo will herald the dawn in a new era of GPS and communications convergence, or whether it will be a passing fad?
We will be receiving some Gizmondos in the next few days to put through their paces. Matt has already been scheduled to do the gaming reviews. I will be looking at some of the more interesting applications of the inbuilt GPS.
As the Gizmondo is built on the Windows CE.Net Platform there should be no shortage of potential developers for the device. It will just be a matter of inertia, getting the first ones to market.
It is now nearly 7:00 in the morning. Our train will be arriving soon. Off to bed or complete my article? Difficult choisezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!