Friday, June 22, 2007

Location-based Applications on the Mobile Phone--GetMobio and Where.com

Last week I took a vacation to Pennsylvania. My father grew up on the west side of the state and wanted to reconnect with family so I agreed to go with him and the family. The weather is quite comfortable there this time of the year compared to Austin. As we drove from Pittsburgh across the state to Philadelphia I noticed people starting to use map-based applications on their mobile phones. It’s been around for awhile now, but it appears to be picking up in usage.

Two applications seem to be in vogue. The first is Getmobio which makes mashups of location-based maps showing where to buy cheap gas, how to make reservations and find restaurants, and more. They call each mashup a “widget” of which they offer 50 of them free in a download. They launched the company at the January 2007 DEMO conference. This seems like a natural fit for a virtual instrumentation application. What about a location-based map showing where all the wireless sensors are placed and their current readings? There’s no need to run back to the central computer to see what’s happening. Many people no longer take their computer with them. They use their mobile phone to sync up.

Another application is called Where.com which also uses mashups of maps with applications such as weather reports, sports news, etc. Their site let’s you choose your phone type, enter your phone number and then it downloads the app straight to your phone. Then on the web you can drag and drop applets onto a picture of your phone which then downloads it over the air to your real phone. The user interface is quite slick and shows a nice interaction between the PC and the phone. The PC handles the setup and configuration while the mobile phone presents the content while you are away from the computer.

Based on these two examples, I could see virtual instrumentation leveraging the technologies to monitor a set of sensors or equipment with a map overlay showing the location of the device and its current reading. With a little more programming, one could add a range to each measurement and have the program initiate a phone call if a measurement goes out of range. The next step from there is to control the device or measurement network from your phone. One could setup a network so when the measurement goes out of range the user could use the mobile phone to turn the device off until a technician can go out and fix the problem.

I’m interested in your comments on what virtual instrumentation applications could be developed based on this technology.

Best regards,
Hall T.

14 Comments:

Blogger Allen said...

Since all sensors are somewhere you can use location to relate them to one another to create a better virtual sensor. For example I have a rain gauge, you have a temp. sensor and someone else particulate air quality sensor. If these three are close enough to each other and we all make the data public, we all can have a better picture than any one would have. I work for ulocate on the WHERE project, drop me a line allen at where dot com

Friday, June 22, 2007 9:22:00 AM  
Anonymous bernie4@cox.net said...

Hi Hall,

On a related note, is there any chance NI will publish a new LabVIEW indicator that can be used for applications which need maps? You could just use the picture control and have a VI that would take a map (one of the standard formats) as input and plot the map. Also, provide a lat/long, UTM, marker capability.
There seems to be an ever increasing need for mapping functions and mapping applications. This seems like a natural fit for LabVIEW and NI.
Please let me know what you think. Thanks, bernie4@cox.net

Monday, June 25, 2007 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Ze Vaz Pinto said...

Hi Hall,
Its quite an interesting themme that you are discussing here with Allen and Bernie - virtual sensors / Labview indicator / Mashups - are you developing some work on these issues?
Would be very much interested in going allong with you guys. Please let me know about this.
Regards
José

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