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Wish List: FMtransmit-o-navigator

I love the built-in FM transmitter that came in the N900 Maemo phone; it’s a thousand times easier to take you music (or audiobooks) with you on the go, especially in the car.  No cables necessary whatsoever. The only weak point is that there are so many FM stations that if you’re on a road trip, you have to adjust a lot to find a free frequency.  [Note: changing the FM transmitter frequency is a colossal pain; impossible to do while driving, which is its own bug.  Activating/deactivating the transmitter is also inconvenient, but at least there is a community-developed widget to fix that.]

Based on my personal motto “never do for yourself what a computer can do for you”, what I’d really like to see is a way to automatically find an unused frequency.  For starters, can you even find that information, even offline?

Supposedly, you can.  The site has US coverage data, and individual maps.  But it’s not very usable (ie, you can’t see multiple coverage maps and where they overlap_, and they ask for fees for reuse.  The FAQ page at // says they harvested the data from the FCC, but not precisely where.  But if they can do it, an open project could, too.

If you had the info for each station, it wouldn’t be hard to plot it together on a free map (if you can’t tell, I’m a total GIS novice). Then plotting the “best frequency” choice for a given road-trip itinerary would be a shortest-path search.  In 3-d. The 2-d map, plus the “used” frequencies in the third dimension.  You might could find one frequency usable for the entire trip, or if not, a list of frequencies with the fewest possible numbers of switches.

It would be superdoubleplus awesome if your FM transmitter could change *for* you as you passed (via GPS location) from one frequency coverage area to another, but that’s extra credit.

So who’s with me?

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