The whereabouts clock

Via Internet Actu, the whereabouts clock is a location-based service targeted for the 'future home'. Dan Simmons from the BBC Click Online describes it as:

It shows you where people are, and its inventor Abigail Sellen thinks its best use is in the home. She said: "We noticed in our studies of family life that it was important to know - when you come home from work for example - are my kids still at school, have they left school yet, has my husband left work yet, shall I get the dinner on? This kind of thing. Actually knowing where your family is very important to family life." It would track the mobile phone signals of loved ones, then cross-reference which mobile cell they were in with pre-programmed locations, like the home, school, or workplace.

Ms Sellen added: "This is not very specific at all about where people are, and that's deliberate. We don't want to invade people's privacy too much, so we deliberately keep things very coarse grained. "If I'm at home I might want to know if my kids have left school, but I don't necessarily want to know exactly where they are."

This project is carried out by Microsoft research.

Why do I blog this? well it's yet another lbs (this time not targetted for mobile devices but as a representation of mobile others at home). Though the scenario are still cliché (the kid tracking thing), it might be interesting to have visualizations generated after extracting mobile phones' data so that it can create an ambient display of who is were. I can fairly imagine different levels of accuracy depending on privacy concerns. However, I am a bit skeptical by such a tool to "Actually knowing where your family is very important to family life". Of course people wants to know where others are but those 'others' sometimes does not want to let people know where they are!

Besides, it's funny to see the way how location-based service is introducted: a reference to Harry Potter's marauder's map. It's starting to be a new meme!