FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Geotagging Becoming a Reality

Ever since cell phones became ubiquitous, technologists have been predicting the advent of "geotagging," or the sending of messages based on proximity. For instance, if you walk past a store, you might receive a text message inviting you to stop in and receive a special offer.

Now, Siemens is developing a system to make geotagging practical. Called "digital graffiti," the technology allows SMS messages or pictures to be sent not to a recipient or even a group of recipients, but to a location, where other users in that location could receive it. A Siemens spokesperson describes potential applications: "Imagine a foreman walking through a plant and making notes of things to check for the maintenance crew on the production floor, or a friend who really knows his way around an area leaving tips of places to go for less familiar buddies." Digital graffiti could also be used in military, crowd control, traffic control and emergency management scenarios, alerting users to everything from danger zones to traffic congestion points.

Such technology might be useful in a controlled environment such as an enterprise, but the risks for spam and other abuse could make it more detrimental, even though Siemens is building in safeguards that allow users to control what messages they receive. Creative uses for the technology, as well as the pitfalls, will emerge as it is tested and discussed. Widespread rollout of digital graffiti is two years away.

Sources: Future Now, PCWorld