Sensis goes after mobile workers

In a move to take mapping information services beyond the office desktop and into the field, Sensis has launched Whereis Navigator for GPS-enabled mobile devices.

Peter Girgis, wireless and location senior product manager at Sensis, said the company views the mobile device as just another channel as more business rely on backend applications beyond the office.

"Mobility is not just about information and is moving towards real-time applications," Girgis said. "More core applications are going mobile."

The launch coincides with HP's new iPaq hw6515 Mobile Messenger which the company claims is the first phone PDA to integrate GSM and GPS. Girgis said Sensis has been conducting pilot programs with end users for a number of months now across the freight, courier, field service, and health industries.

"The application will be in high demand where people are on the road, particularly for 'last-mile' navigation in a street a driver is unfamiliar with," he said. "This helps improve efficiency and end users are free to use the service as they need to."

Sensis is working with service providers which are likely to do back-end integration for end users but will also work directly with customers where they have in-house expertise. Girgis expects the ISV and integrator community to grow as interest expands.

"Navigator for commercial customers includes documentation and provides a basic SDK (software developer kit) to integrate dispatch or sales force applications," he said. "We opted to keep the Navigator interface simple so in most cases resellers can support it."

This open API will let companies integrate applications like dispatch or CRM systems to exploit geospatial information. For example, a courier company will have the ability to get a destination, including directions, from the one device.

"There is a lot of business intelligence in sales applications for the mobile workforce so we decided to interface with it rather than take over that functionality," Girgis said, adding that the development process is rapid.

HP Australia's market development manager for iPAQs, Julianne Bean, said that in the PDA space there are a lot of products, but not a lot of solutions, so HP wanted to develop an easy solution for customers.

"Convergence is where the market is at," Bean said. "In conjunction with Whereis we are offering true convergence and a one-stop mobile solution. The key feature of the hw6515 is in-built GPS which lets customers use the device for e-mail, Internet, and satellite navigation."

HP is offering a one-month trial of the mapping service.

"The benefit is real-time mapping for things like street directions and traffic delays," Bean said.

Other features include turn-by-turn directions, voice guidance, text-only directions, estimated time of arrival, automatic re-routing, and the ability to use contacts in the address book to set a destination.

The chosen carrier is Vodafone which is offering a $49.95 a month cap on data or pre-paid units through Harvey Norman. The iPaq hw6515 Mobile Messenger retails for $1199.

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