A GPS Solution for the Nurse Making House Calls

Visiting Nurse Services are a boon to those unable to leave home. For the easily lost or the nurse with no internal sense of direction, a new cell phone-come-GPS device will get you there and back--and a whole lot more.

Visiting Nurse Services are a boon to those unable to leave home. For the easily lost or the nurse with no internal sense of direction, a new cell phone-come-GPS device will get you there and back--and a whole lot more.

Garmin has long been a maker of global positioning system (GPS) devices that help drivers get from point A to point B quickly. Most are vehicle-mounted hardware that remain in your car at all times. Not so with the nuvifone.

Following its nuvi line of branded devices, Garmin recently introduced the nuvifone. The nuvifone combines a full GPS unit with the convenience of a very capable cell phone. It comes packed with features. First, the cell phone will be able to roam across North American and Europe, and comes preloaded with maps of both continents. This means you'll be able to get directions to most any place you travel to.

Users will be able to use the nuvifone's features to find just about any sort of landmark, location, traffic information, weather reports and more all with the touch of a finger. The device resembles Apple's iPhone in that it has a large touchscreen that users will interact with to access the phone's applications. Garmin takes safety seriously, and has installed some nifty applications that let you find help quickly. For instance, the "Where am I?" feature lets users touch the screen at any time to display the exact latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and gas stations. I think the benefits of this feature are pretty self-explanatory. The nuvifone also helps drivers find their car in an unfamiliar spot or crowded parking lot by automatically marking the position in which it was last removed from the vehicle mount.

It also has high-speed wireless Internet capabilities with built-in 3G data and Wi-Fi. This means you can browse the Web between appointments and catch up on your email, too. The nuvifone comes tethered to some of Google's services, such as Local Search. Local Search ties the Internet to the GPS functions. Once you type in a desired target, such as Starbucks, the nuvifone will peg your location and then display the Starbucks that are closest. Definitely cool.

The nuvifone doesn't leave out entertainment, either. You can also use it to listen to MP3s or take pictures and video. One really nifty aspect of the nuvifone is that it automatically geotags all the pictures you take. You can then save the picture and get driving directions to and from that location based on the GPS information. You can also send the picture to someone else and they will be able to get directions to that location as well.

The nuvifone will be available some time in the third quarter of 2008. No word yet on how much it will cost.