Location awareness is still in its early phase (hence it’s being discussed in this blog). Currently, location applications focus on what can be called a “thing-finder” – finding a restaurant, an address, etc. In the next phase, location aware devices take into account their context and act accordingly. These devices could use their location for functions such as security -- setting up a device to only work when it’s in its proper location or sending out a call signal when it’s stolen. It could also use position to configure itself with the proper frequency and communications protocol for the area. For more good ideas check out this article.
GPS is a technology with which almost everyone is familiar. But GPS works only outdoors. What about indoors positioning? With the increased number of wireless devices and signals (WiFi, RFID, Cellular, etc) it is now possible to use these signals (signal presence and signal strength) to pinpoint a device’s position even if indoors.
Location awareness is considered to be the next killer app for cellphones. Check out this article
which discusses location aware applications including finding a taxi cab by contacting the cab that is nearest to your location or using it to find your friends who are currently in the same geographical area you are.
If every cellphone were location-aware and began transmitting that information, the network would crash from an overload of data (location data) coming through. In this blog
the author calculates that 200 million cellphones generating location data would require bandwidth of 200,000,000 kb/sec. Obviously, the cellphone needs to transmit data only when it needs to.
The recent conference Where 2.0
highlights the many applications and issues surrounding location-aware devices. The conference sponsored by O’Reilly drew over 500 attendees. The main theme of the show is that the traditional GIS—Geographical Information System market is converging with the Web to create a whole new market. The usual suspects, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, aired plans for providing tools and support for this new market.
One way to think of it is location-based services focus on where you are, while location aware services operate in the background interacting with the local context. In this article
the author outlines a vision of the cellphone as the primary device interacting with the local environment to create ad hoc networks.
The geospatial web is reminiscent of the World Wide Web in the early 90s – plenty of promise but plenty of work to be done. In this article,
Mike Liebhold lays out the challenges in making the geospatial web a productive reality. Infrastructure, investment, an ecosystem of companies developing tools, privacy, security, and a host of other issues are discussed. For a rich set of links on geospatial topics and tools, check out this web site.
Of course location awareness has a dark side. If a device can tell where you are, it could tell others where you are even when you don’t want it to. In this article
the author highlights the challenges in protecting one’s privacy.
If you are working with location aware technology, I would like to hear from you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hall T. Martin