Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Poor man’s location awareness

Over the last day I have experienced that very basic location information in the display can already provide a benefit to the user. Being the first time in Sydney I realized that network information of my GSM-phone is very reliable to tell me when to get off the bus – obviously it is not fine grain location information but so far always walking distance. At some locations (such as Bondi beach) visual pattern matching works very well, too ;-) And when to get off the bus seems a concern to many people (just extrapolating from the small sample I had over the last days…).

In my pervasive computing class, which I currently teach, we covered recently different aspects of location based systems – by the way a good starting point on the topic is [1] and [2]. At We discussed issues related to visual pattern matching – and when looking at the skyline of Sydney one becomes very quickly aware of the potential of this approach (especially with all the tagged pictures on flickr) but at the same time the complexity of matching from arbitrary locations becomes apparent.

Location awareness offers many interesting questions and challenging problems – looks like there are ideas for project and thesis topics, e.g. how semantic location information (even of lower quality) can be beneficial to users or finger printing based on radio/TV broadcast information.

[1] J. Hightower and G. Borriello. Location systems for ubiquitous computing. IEEE Computer, 34(8):57–66, Aug. 2001. http://www.intel-research.net/seattle/pubs/062120021154_45.pdf

[2] Jeffrey Hightower and Gaetano Borriello. Location Sensing Techniques. UW-CSE-01-07-01.

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