Real-time GPS tracking

I haven’t tried this, but Queenslander John Scott (AKA Ivanavitch on Google Earth Community) has built a Windows server application that reads live GPS data and outputs its as KML in real time, ready for Google Earth.

As long as you’re within internet range, then, you can plot your precise position in Google Earth. And that’s precisely what I was asking for when I sat on my wi-fi enabled SAS flight to New York a few weeks ago, wishing I could use Google Earth instead of the far less impressive on-board mapping system to follow along with the plane. All we need now is a photo of this in action by someone.

Hmm. Now that I think about it, I don’t suppose GPS units work inside a giant Faraday cage. Has anyone ever gotten a position inside a plane with a GPS unit, perhaps from a window seat? Or are planes going far too fast in any case? Maybe the solution then would be to have Scott’s server running on the plane’s computer, serving KML to the plane’s LAN from the cockpit’s GPS coordinates. Unfortunately, that’s beginning to sound far-fetched again.

(The software is “very beta”, and you need a GPS unit, obvs. Initial thread on the software is here. )

5 thoughts on “Real-time GPS tracking”

  1. I’ve used two different GPS units in window seats without any problems – although the flight attendants can sometimes be a bit jumpy about electronic devices. :)

  2. I too have used a GPS unit on an airline flight. I had to hold my unit up against the window to get a good signal but once I did it didnt have much trouble getting a position. It was pretty cool to see the GPS unit saying I was traveling at over 1,000 km/hr and at an altitude of 13,500 meters

  3. Yeah, I’ve used one too. I had to hold it against the window.

    I now see on some airlines that they are not allowed to be used … but I have no idea why. Sucks in my opinion.

  4. Someone has done a version of the Google Earth + flight data mash-up you allude to:

    This company will track any US flight using almost-real-time FAA data (5 mins. delayed). Very cool, and it will be very fun to use during a wifi-enabled flight with a window seat.

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