Location is everything. At least that is what many companies are banking on – from various IT companies providing location-based services (LBS) to retailers hoping to woo customers through location aware advertisements to social networking platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Location is innate to how we live and what we do. Everything happens at a time and place so it is a familiar construct. Just witness the explosion of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Mapquest, Google Earth, Bing Maps and all the specialized uses of each: driving directions, mass transit route planning, jogging/running course planning, business searches, etc. GPS is becoming commonplace in cars and portable GPS devices are popular options – to the point of being popular targets for smash & grab thieves.
Thanks to the GPS and GLONASS systems – a network of orbiting satellites (no, not the Mandarin’s mind-controlling satellites) that are used by terrestrial navigation devices to calculate a position on the globe – positions unobscured from the sky, or only mildly shielded can be determined. Your cellphone may have a GPS chip or might make use of GPS-A. This is assisted GPS which usually refers to a cellphone’s ability to triangulate its position using the same concept of GPS satellites but employing cell phone towers. Again, great if you have decent cellphone signals. These systems break down a bit once you move indoors.
You may have noticed (at least on Google Maps for Android) that they have introduced floor plans for a number of large commercial areas including shopping malls and airports. A variety of technologies are being employed: WiFi positioning (much like GPS or the cell tower triangulation), Bluetooth, etc. Newer systems are augmenting the positioning through other sensors. The device will use the last good GPS fix and then make use of inertial navigation sensors to determine where it is. You can think of it as a super pedometer: it can measure steps taken, turns made, altitude changes (elevators, stairs, etc.). Some of these systems are already in place for first responders so that they can be tracked as they enter dangerous situations like burning buildings.
It will be interesting to watch this evolution and how people react. I do find it amazing that many friends and coworkers are willing to advertise the fact that they are away from home: “Day 1 of our two week vacation in Timbuktu! Yeah!” And the number of folks that are mayors of some place or other on Foursquare.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.