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Information, Technology, and Innovation: Resources for Growth in a Connected World by John M. Jordan

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CHAPTER 25

Location Awareness

Even though they're sometimes overlooked in relation to spectacular growth rates (50-fold increases in wireless data carriage), successful consumer applications (nearly a billion Facebook users), and technical achievement (at Google, Amazon, Apple, and elsewhere), location-based technologies deserve more attention than they typically receive. The many possible combinations of wired Internet, wireless data, vivid displays, well-tuned algorithms running on powerful hardware, vast quantities of data, and new monetization models, when combined with location awareness, have yet to be well understood.

Digital location-based services arose roughly in chronological parallel with the commercial Internet. In 1996, General Motors introduced the OnStar navigation and assistance service in high-end automobiles. Uses of Global Positioning System (GPS, which, like the Internet, was a U.S. military invention, as Figure 25.1 shows) and related technologies have exploded in the intervening years, in the automotive sector and, more recently, on smartphones. The widespread use of Google Earth in television newscasts is another indicator of the underlying trend.

Sales of handheld GPS units continue to double every year or two in the North American market. As the technology is integrated into mobile phones, the social networking market is expected to drive far wider adoption. Foursquare, Facebook Places, numerous other start-ups, and the telecom carriers are expected to ...

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