Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mobile surveillance?

Are location-based services (LBS) quickly becoming the next FaceBook? Loopt would be one prominent example. As the number of Internet-enabled and GPS-enabled mobile phones proliferates with the spread of the iPhone and the two-year upgrade cycle for mobile devices, about 45% of mobile devices in the U.S. now have wireless broadband access. Local search and other mobile applications can finally be realized.

Location-based services, also called location-aware services, are about finding out what is nearby and who is nearby.

The what is fairly straightforward. This is more granular and possibly dynamic information about the places nearby; restaurant and store reviews, movie times, historical information for self-tours, etc. and the ability to take action, to make reservations, buy tickets, etc.

The who is related to people you know and people you don’t know. One social application is enabling your geographical location to be seen to friends in your network so they can easily find you. Another application is chat networks for people that are nearby, waiting somewhere for example, that would like to meet or just chat anonymously. There are also public-space interaction projects, games, art, etc. where people can use their cell phones to interact with a billboard or display, playing a video game against someone else in Times Square or making billboard art, either directly with call or text input or ambient algorithms following network participants as they pass through the area.

Age-tiering of technology
Twenty-somethings may be happy to permission their friend network to see where they are and senior-monitoring could be desirable but are age tiers 30-70 as interested in this functionality? Is the last modicum of privacy breached when your friends and family can see that you are at the gym, the dry cleaner, not at your office, etc. or is it too plebeian to care if everyone does it? Cell phones mean we can be reached everywhere, but do we want to be seen everywhere?

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