New devices can pinpoint what floor you’re on, aiding rescue crews but setting off privacy groups’ alarms.
There are now about 100 million smartphones that feature barometric sensors. This is very interesting technology and while the primary purpose for barometers was to monitor changes in the weather, this opens up some very interesting new capability.
One of the exciting opportunities this opens up is being able to locate people, not only by their GPS coordinates, but also what their altitude is and therefore what floor they are on. Imagine for example that someone has dialed 911 and needs urgent medical assistance, but is disoriented. The ability to track that call and identify that a person is on the 15th floor of a commercial building could be a life saver.
Retailers are constantly seeking that magical solution to identify where people are in a shopping precinct or mall. This again can help in pinpointing the location of shoppers without requiring the use if Bluetooth or other LBS technologies.
Of course this raises security concerns, especially if you don’t have the ability to turn that information off. When it comes to law enforcement, safety, security and providing evidence of a crime that has or may be about to be committed, I’m fine with this concept and particularly situations where innocent people can use location based services to prove they were not at the scene of a crime.
It’s interesting to me that we have long seen these sorts of technologies on TV shows, where high tech law enforcement agencies use it to find terrorists and others and tracking people by their mobiles is an every day thing. Now we’re talking reality and its getting interesting.
So locating people with special needs has always been an interest of mine. Elderly people, people with disabilities like being blind, dementia, health conditions like diabetes that can cause people to become disoriented or lose consciousness. I have long looked for viable devices and been involved in R&D with a number of them, but the ubiquitous mobile has the potential to change all that.
What other things could you do with this technology? How about fitness training? The barometer can help apps know when you are climbing stairs and can count how many you climbed. It can be used to monitor inclinometer for people doing training for sport, because publicly available web maps mostly don’t provide this. functionality. I’m sure cycling, running and other fitness apps soon will. The iPhone 6 comes with a health app that counts stairs for you, so you may already be using this functionality in your new mobile.
I recently had the pleasure of flying in a Hoverwing, a hybrid combination of plane and hovercraft. The pilot used his iPhone to get information about where we went and emailed me a picture of the track. Glider pilots can now use this technology which is much cheaper and lighter than conventional technology. For a glider pilot of course the lighter the craft the more lift,
For those of you who have scoffed in the past about face and voice recognition, tracking people and using big data analysis to track people and interpret their behavior, location and where they are likely to go next as something that will remain on SciFi movies, it’s time to face facts. We live in a new world. I’m just glad that I live in a democratic country where it is unlikely that this technology will be abused by those in authority.
Of course the technology can be abused very easily by people with less benevolent intentions and this is where standards to protect our personal safety and privacy need to be developed, and quickly, because it can be very easily be abused to commit crimes against people. Whilst law enforcement is getting smarter, there are levels of the criminal element that are doing likewise. There are of course loads of less intelligent criminals and as you will read in many of my blogs, particularly http://luigicappelwordpress.com and this blog people are being caught daily having stolen mobiles, cars, handbags, even hay bales! Something I love to read about these busts is that they also tend to find lots of other stolen property and other illegal items when they catch these people.
As long as the laws are in place to protect the innocent and our inherent right to privacy, inasmuch as that exists any more, I think these are very positive and exciting developments. How about you?