Sunday, June 27, 2010

Magellan Roadmate 1424 Hacking

My buddy Cameraman recently cracked open his Magellan Roadmate 1424 GPS and took photos of the inside. It's nothing special, but the device appears to be using a generic form factor and running Windows CE version 5.0. There's no obvious areas where you can hack the device, but one quick fix would be to add a second battery (there's room for more in there). You could in theory add a second battery in parallel to the second one, giving it 1,500 mAH capacity and doubling the operating time on batteries from 3 hours to 6 hours. 

The device is easily accessible by USB and appears as a regular USB drive. You can navigate to each folder and even change the end user license agreement to suit whatever you want. When you power up the device it forces you to agree to this EULA in order to protect the company from being sued by drivers who insist on programming the device while driving. 

I'm wondering how hard it would be to add bluetooth to the device. It would be handy to be able to have the GPS device work with any phone. Another thing I want to try is to replace the ugly green triangle icon with a picture of a small car. The ugly triangle does the job but isn't very nice to look at. I'm really pleased so far by the speed of the GPS update and the fact that it doesn't nag you if you change your route. The GPS will automatically re-adjust the route and silently accept the change and begin giving you new directions. Old GPS's would often nag you endlessly by saying 'TURN AROUND'.

Another neat thing you can do with this device is modify the default .wav files for reminders on turns. I'm thinking of using some unique sounds. Performing unauthorized map updates are tricky. I believe that you cannot simply over-write the file and that the GPS relies on a special CRC check to ensure you can't replace this without paying for the update. (Which makes sense because it would be stealing map updates). 

How does the GPS compare to say, an iPhone or Blackberry? I know the device updates much faster than both devices. It also has much more available points of information, but lacks expandability. While the iPhone and Blackberry has access to user-generated content, the Magellan does not. 

The hottest feature for GPS's will be having high-definition displays, lane-sensing, and user-generated reviews/content on actual locations. Most newer GPS's can also tell you the speed of the highway and warn you if you're speeding. (Very handy). But going beyond these features, you're going to see GPS's have:

* The ability to post facebook or twitter updates
* GPS-to-GPS communication (ie. family trips with more than one vehicle)
* MMS or texting ability
* Movie or TV viewing (either live, off SD card, or on the internet via Netflix)
* Enhanced resolution - close to military specification (ie. 3 feet).
* Weather and storm alerts
* Calendar and appointment settings
* Prices of gasoline in any given area (live)

So GPS's are only going to get more features and continue to get cheaper to buy. The only question about the future of GPS's is are there limits?

Who knows.


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