Context Aware, Location Aware, or Location Based Services, regardless of the terms you use there is no doubt location services are going to change the way business is conducted. There will be competitive advantages gained in understanding the technology and applying the tools to your own company. In the past, field visibility has always been a challenge at an affordable price, however today’s smartphones are changing the game. The technologies inside today’s phones and complementing software services are making smart devices common tools of the trade. The hardware components inside these phones is vastly improved with huge gains in accuracy and reliability. Gone are the days of having a dedicated PND (Portable Navigation Device) or Fleet Tracker when everyone carries a cell phone. How does this stuff work?
At a high level, smartphones will use Wireless Carrier Towers, WiFi, and dedicated GPS chips. It is often listed as Cell ID, WiFi, and GPS. We all use these technologies on a daily basis. I remember when I was younger we navigated boats by Loran-C and then later civilian satellite navigation with GPS. I remember the days prior to loran-c when we went Grouper fishing 50 miles offshore you would leave the inlet and take a compass heading and run for “x” number of hours to our favorite fishing spot. Often, these fishing spots were no bigger than 20-50 feet wide so most of the time you had to troll around looking for the spot with your depth finder. You could get in the vicinity but due to variables like wind, current, faulty compass readings, or pilot errors you were never guaranteed fish. That all changed with Loran-C base station triangulation and then civilian GPS. These newer technologies put you much closer to the hole. You spent time fishing not searching. Fast forward to today.
Evolution is taking place with location based services. Vendors are now tapping into several sensors and software to marry the technologies to pin-point your locations. The evolution is taking place a breath taking speed. Are you aware your home WiFi access point is sending location data to companies? This is not done by some fancy picture taking car with wireless sniffers or hacker teenagers war driving in your neighbor hood. No, your very own internet connected devices like your smartphone(s) or tablet(s) is doing the work for these companies. You can opt-out but you need to change your own SSID with the _nomap suffix. The point being location data is being collected in these BIG Databases accessible on the internet. No doubt these companies collecting data about us need to be good stewards of this anonymous or not so anonymous data. WiFi and Address information is being submitted to map out the IP to Locations databases. Companies have gone far beyond mapping to your local Internet Service Providers point-of-presence these days they leverage us all as “crowd sourcing” resources to map the world.
Many mobile devices will offer location services via the methods you opt-in. If you are in the field often GPS is the best technology to use and is very accurate. You do need a somewhat clear view of the sky or have a modern device with better GPS antennas and sensitivity. If you are mobile in the cities where this IP to Location Database is well mapped then often multiple technologies such as GPS and WiFi work together. The software tools have improved and massive amounts of data is being collected on a daily basis. Hardware and Software vendors have made the location based services seamless and easy to use and it truly is amazing the new line of business applications that are being developed. We are in the new frontier of context aware events for mobile devices.
We are a Mobile Society and these new Location Based Services will help many gain a business competitive advantages. You want it faster and cheaper is the rule of the day. bTrans leverages these new technologies in the products and solutions we manufacture. Call one of our Solutions Champions today to discuss your next project.