Location systems are not yet ubiquitous

An interesting short paper in Communication of the ACM about location-based services by Gaetano Borriello, Matthew Chalmers, Anthony LaMarca, Paddy Nixon: Delivering real-world ubiquitous location systems :

Location systems are not yet ubiquitous, but are increasing their accuracy, coverage, and availability, and maintaining moderate cost. A number of candidate technologies are already in the marketplace, and new ones are continually being developed. Alongside the developments of such infrastructure, commercial and research-oriented applications are being developed in significant numbers. In the future, the development of new location systems is likely to be influenced by market trends in the hardware and software platforms of mobile devices—most particularly cell phones—as much as the technology options within location systems themselves. Privacy is clearly a major factor in location systems’ development and deployment. (...) Developers of applications will have to accept variation in the accuracy and availability of location data for some time. (...) we see significant potential in deliberately showing some of the seams in the infrastructure of ubiquitous computing systems, going beyond the simple displays of signal strength in phones and laptops, to offer people maps of availability of WiFi coverage and location services.

Why do I blog this? Well it summarizes pretty well the main concerns about location-based services. It's also very mattheau chalmers-oriented since it deals with what his lab does about seamless design; which is of great interest. I am trying to work on the very topic of accuracy, my current experiment is focused on comparing three different way of using this kind of mobile gear:

  • without location awareness
  • with a precise location awareness tool
  • with an unnacurate location awareness tool

Results might be different than what the common sense leads us to expect... Besides, read the whole Communication of the ACM issue, it's pretty well done; it gives a good summary of what is happening lately in the field.