Is Geo-Location a Passing Fad?

Last week, Joshua Brustein reported at the New York Times  that “Location-Based Services Have Not Caught On,” citing a Pew Center report that shows use of such services has declined from 5% to 4% over the last six months. The most current survey had a +/-3% margin of error. I need not point out the flaw in Brustein’s conclusion, since consulting engineer Steven J. Crowley has already done so admirably.

But this does raise the question of whether geo-location has the potential to break out of its current niche as an adjunct to status reporting tools like Twitter or Facebook and actually provide other, more useful services. John C. Abell, writing at Wired, argues that eventually “It will become natural and expected to be informed, personally, about proximate things of interest.” A small but growing group of companies agree. Here’s one example.

The folks at Polestar see four principal markets for indoor positioning, providing value to both end users and site manager:

End User
Site Manager
Shopping Malls Find the shop/product
Find the bargain
Commercial animation
Generate lead
Airports/Railway Stations Lower stress
Find services
Manage free time
Commercial animation
Generate lead
Fairs/Tradeshows Manage visit
Get additional content
Find services
Social networking
Statistics
Museums Manage visit
Get additional content
Generate lead

The NAO Campus system uses onboard WiFi to navigate within a facility by employing RF fingerprinting. Here’s a recent Google talk showing the system in action, from which these use cases were excerpted:

The folks at the Indoor LBS Blog present an extensive selection of Indoor Navigation Apps  video.

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