I'm with you, Jon. I'm not so sure we need any set of technology to track our every location. I like the idea of the indoor GPS for tracking kids' locations, though. I know they have cell phones, but I know my teens/tweens are notorious for not having their cells on when you need them to.
Good point about tracking kids, Beth. There are some GPS kid-tracking watch-like modules available that report a child's position. When I researched this topic several years ago I found a company that has a tamper-proof watch that includes a panic button a kid could push in case of emergency. Wish I could remember the company's name.
Other than the lost child capability that the article mentions, I'm afraid I don't see much use for this, either. A few years ago, there was a company called Applied Digital Solutions that was making security chips for tracking. As I recall, one of their big applications was in Central America, where kidnappings were commonplace. The technology described here would do some of the same things, but I don't know how big that market could possibly be.
Isn't this another example of a solution looking for a problem? If you can't locate your children, a GPS really isn't the solution. Same with windshield wiper blades in WallyWorld. I'm confident once the technology is created, applications will abound. Once a technological innovation is announced, manufacturers leap at the opportunity to shoe-horn it into their producs. Not for the purpose of enhancing operation but solely for the purpose of product differentiation. I really don't want to be the first in my neighborhood with a north seeking microprocessor controlled Philips Screwdriver with built-in GPS in case I lose it.
@oldbikefixr: Not sure the security aspect worries me as much. As with any new technology, those issues are addressed over a period of time and I think given that the Internet has been actively in use by the general public for well over a decade, many of the major holes are secure, at least to my satisfaction and for the type of data I put over it. Now that's not to say there aren't breaches and aren't opportunities for hacking--I get that. But it was likely the same for the phone service and other communications tools when they were in the early stages.
As for the indoor GPS, I will join your camp as being a skeptic. I'm one of those people that agree much of this new technology is overkill. However, given that I've been covering technology since the early 80s when the PC first was announced, I'm seasoned enough to see certain innovations take hold with the general public that will just stick, in some form or another. Just had this conversation this weekend with my husband about Facebook technology. Might not be the Facebook we know today, but that kind of social, put it all out there interactive platform is here to stay in some form or another.
How we choose to use it makes a positive or negative for society. Indoor tracking/navigation apps can be VERY useful for locating lost children as the article mentioned. It could be a great tool for musuems and historic sites.
Younger shoppers enjoy receiving information or deals on their smart phones. That's how they shop. Many retailers depend on impulse buys to stay in the black. For those with limitied mobility, having an app to turn on lights in the home could be life changing.
The evolution of these apps can be great if we (consumers) use common sense and they (corporations) just stick to "not being evil".
Hi, Nadine. Thanks for your comments. I agree with you about tracking kids and gave more info in a reply to Beth. Back in the 1950's, the Museum of Natural History in New York City rented small radio receivers people could carry from exhibit. A short-range wireless transmitter gave a description of the nearby display. That was cool at the time and museums could use some sort of location-detection arrangement to provide similar information, perhaps via Bluetooth to a headset. But I don't think anyone would need to know an absolute location within the museum.
You have a good point about young shoppers who seem to travel with a cell phone attached to their heads. We'll just have to see how the position information applications shake out. For better, I hope.
Hi, Greg. Stores can use near-field communications (NFCs) to communicate "coupon" information to a smart phone with NFC capabilities. By using a passive NFC "tag," a store could post discounts, special deals, and other information right by a product. A touch with a smart phone would transfer the information to the shopper's phone. Stores and VISA have started to install NFC devices for payments at point-of-sale terminals, so extending NFC to coupons wouldn't take much--probably an app for your favorite stores.
Affinity cards already track consumer information. Beware, though, I have heard some insurance companies want (or already have) access to shopping information. Thus they can assess risks by examining what insurance buyers purchase. If you go heavy on fatty or sweet foods, you might get a poor rating for life insurance. You never know the uses to which companies use, lease, or barter information they gather from you.
Taking your idea one step further, Jon, the response could be time-based. For example, if you are standing in front of a product for a certain period of time, it might be assumed that you are considering / comparing the product. Spitting out a discount on the one the store would prefer you buy could push you over the edge.
Giant, a grocery store in MD, has a hand scanner that shoppers can pick up when they enter the store and scan their products as they shop. Additionally, the scanner pop ups deals based on my location in the store. It is a really nice device. So checkout is fast and easy because all I do is scan a barcode my order comes up, pay and go.
The retail enhancing possibilities of this technology will undoubtedly pay for itself.
But the greatest benefit I see is for emergency response personnel . . . primarily firefighters slogging their way through a smoke filled building. I can envision a heads up display indicating directions to exit routes based on the firefighters actual location. That might be good information to know when you can't see more than a few feet in any direction.
That's useful to find the phone, tlschott, but what if the phone is in another room? In that case, you would have rescue personnel risking their lives to find phones, not people. There's a lot of instances where people charge their phones in a home office, or living room, or simply forget to take the phone into the bedroom with them.
Being an engineer, I personally have a very good 3D understanding of things and places. However, just because we engineers can look at a map and know how to get from one place to another does not mean others can do the same. My wife for example only seems to think in words. She can look at a map all day long and still have no idea how to get where she wants to go. She has to have a verbal description of how to get there. With the size of some of the mails, museums, hospitals, etc an indoor GPS, however it works, would be wonderful for her. Even for me, I have been at malls and decided I wanted to find a specific store, it then took me 5 to 10 minutes just to find a map to find where the store was, only to find the store was the oposite direction from where the map was, so I could find use for it also.
The other thought that comes to mind, with the last new car we got; I got a GPS in it. After using that GPS for 5 years the car was wrecked. I then discovered how dependant I had become on the GPS. Not sure if that is good or bad.
Finally as to locating children, yes you can call them on their phone, but will they actually tell you the truth of where they are?
A soon to be released product from Guardian Lion called the 'Leo' addresses all of your concerns. It's a cell phone GPS watch with an accelerometer as well. You call call the kid but, the web site will show you where they really ARE! www.guardianlion.com
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