Guest Post By Mark Dwayne.
We’ve all been there - searching our brains for a great restaurant in the street we are shopping on, trying to find a drop-off box to pay a credit-card bill at the last minute or simply, tracing a long-lost friend. We pull out our mobiles and search and the relevant information is right at our finger tips. What’s getting us results is Location Based Services or LBS. Using this, our mobile device lets us connect, find, shop, take shots and simplify your life in many ways. iPhone apps like Urbanspoon which selects restaurants and Loopt which helps you track and meet friends are widely used and are useful too.
The LBS has come a long way since its genesis in 1999 and is part of daily life, for instance in the navigation system inour cars. On a larger scale, we have stores that send offers and details of sales to our cellphones. For instance, you can even receive coupons if you are in the vicinity of a particular store and get some cool discounts. Other uses of LBS include vehicle tracking, parcel and courier tracking, games and weather. Social networking sites have made LBS popular too with users updating information about their location all the time. You can give your friends your location in real time thanks to Apple’s ‘Find my Friends’ and Google’s Latitude.
When you key in a request, the LBS provider, like Gowalla and Foursquare use a network map or a GSM search to find your coordinates. The router which draws the network map also contains a control plane. Once your coordinates are received, another search ensures to find the nearest radio signal. The other technologies used here could include Bluetooth and WLAN.
Once the user’s location is pinpointed, she is offered all kinds of support based on her location, including being directed to the nearest ATM or store she is looking for. Most providers require registration and give points, prizes and bonuses for specific, oft-visited locations. You can use any hand held device, including your Blackberry and iPhone to track down what you are looking for.
On the plus side, the sheer reach of the LBS is mind-boggling. On the minus, the fact that almost anyone knows where you are can be a nuisance and a risk. For instance, marketers gain information ranging from your interests to your political views and even your work details and could use it. While there are laws to protect privacy, they are not stringent enough and thus LBS pose problems that need to be worked out.
Do use the service to simply your life and your day but be watchful when you do so.
This is a guest post by Mark Dwayne of buytimewarnercable.com, a site that offers savings and current information on http://www.buytimewarnercable.com.