Episode 3: Stan Honey and Navigation

Stan Honey Etak

Navigation is in Stan Honey’s blood. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Honey pioneered nautical navigation systems that led him to become a championship yacht navigator. In the 1980s, he co-founded Etak, which created the world’s first computerized in-car navigation system — the ancestor of the GPS-based navigation systems we use today. And in the 1990s, he pioneered commercial applications of augmented reality by founding SportVision, which created real-time on-screen overlays for television sportscasts.

In this episode, Benj Edwards talks to Honey about these innovations and what it means if, as a species, we never have to get lost again. You’ll also hear two new songs from Benj Edwards about the topic at hand.

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Stan Honey is an absolute delight to talk to. He helped me quite a bit with an article I wrote about Etak for FastCompany back in 2015, which I mention several times in the podcast.

I am particularly enamored with Honey’s combination of technical brilliance, knowledge of history and nautical lore, and his sportsmanship. He has been the navigator of 11 winning Transpac crews since 1979, including a group led by Atari’s Nolan Bushnell back in 1983.

This background makes his technical innovations all the more fascinating — especially in light of how dependent we all are on software-based navigation today.

Hope you enjoy it.

6 Comments

  1. Fantastic episode Ben. I did not know about Stan honey at all and I think you did a great thing by highlighting a luminary here.

    Just on a technical note, the stereo panning on my headphones sounds a bit weird. I often am hearing only you on one side of my headphones. I like the idea of interviewer and interviewee being on either side of my head, but the effect is possibly a bit too extreme.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Gareth! Really glad you enjoyed the interview.

    I did slightly pan the voices on purpose as an experiment, because I thought it might be a nice effect for when there is crosstalk. I will probably stop doing on that on future episodes.

  3. I really enjoyed this episode. As always, great interview questions and another really eloquent and interesting guest.

    One of my side projects early-on at my current job was setting up a GIS system for library patrons to use in one of our branches to do road network analysis, so a lot of the topics discussed were familiar and especially interesting to me.

    As a side note..one of the things that may have contributed to GPS taking off slowly at first was possibly due to the fact that GPS originally had errors deliberately introduced into it’s navigation data, supposedly to keep terrorists and enemy governments from using GPS against the US (this is no longer the case). This was called, “Selective availability” Details here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Error_analysis_for_the_Global_Positioning_System#Selective_availability

  4. I just found this podcast after hearing you on Retronauts. Podcasts aren’t in short supply these days, but if the first 3 episodes are any indication, this one has the potential to become one of my favorites. I’ve been looking for something like this since Halt & Catch Fire, Shooter Jennings, and RetroPie have combined to reignite my interest in this sort of thing. Great work so far, and I look forward to the next episode.

  5. Thanks for the feedback, Greg. I really appreciate it.

  6. This was a really interesting dive into an area of technical history I knew almost nothing about. Also really enjoyed the philosophical diversion into what it means to be physically lost and how difficult that is to achieve in 2018. Really a great example of culture meeting tech, which I guess is what you were aiming for! Thanks Benj for your work on this.

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