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Montgomery, Alabama installs first trolley system with GPS satellite-guided audio tours E-mail
Written by IntelliTours   
26 April 2005
MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Reaching for the stars again, Montgomery, Alabama has installed the first trolley system with GPS satellite-guided audio tours of historic sites.

Created by IntelliTours, a Montgomery company, the innovation links space-age navigation with old-fashioned story telling.

Installed on three Lightning Route trolleys and the city’s restored Cleveland Avenue Bus, operated by the Montgomery Area Transit System (MATS), the GPS system automatically triggers an audio narration at 45 locations around downtown. With geographic precision, the system negotiates intersecting Civil War and Civil Rights histories, plus other events and landmarks, on the very spots where they occurred. Two 20-minute tours are featured.

The Lightning Route is the nation’s first electric trolley system. When it was built in 1886, electricity was a mysterious force, and street cars were pulled by mules.

“According to historians, the Lightning Route happened in Montgomery because of technological advances and the willingness of men of vision to take risks,” said Jim Carrier, an author and sailor who founded IntelliTours. “It took the same kind of vision in the 21st Century to embrace the first GPS audio system.”

Here’s how it works: Radio signals from atomic clocks in GPS satellites travel at the speed of light to a small antenna (DeLuo) on the trolley’s roof. A handheld computer (Dell X50) located above the driver calculates the arrival time of each satellite signal and “triangulates” the trolley’s latitude and longitude. As the trolley travels through the city, the computer “knows” where it is, and matches the latitude-longitude of each historic site with audio narration about that site stored in the computer. Software created by Spotlight Mobile Inc. (www.spotlightmobile.com) runs the system.

The audio is fed from the earphone jack into an auxiliary input on the vehicle’s CD player, where it is amplified to the vehicle’s PA speakers. Drivers choose one of two routes, adjust the volume and take off. The rest is automatic.

IntelliTours creates audio and multimedia tours that are guided and triggered by GPS navigation. The tours work outdoors anywhere in the world. The tours are packaged for handheld walking tours, auto and RV trips, and tourist trolleys, buses and trains. For more information: Web site: www.intellitours.com
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