Location-Based Services Poised for Rapid Growth - Part 2
By Bill McBeath
on May 25, 2010
Location-Based Services span everything from tracking the location of assets and shipments, to safety, location-aware marketing, locating vehicles, navigation, location-based social networking, and much, much more. Here's a look at who's providing these services.
Full Article Below -
As described in Part 1 of this article series, the range of location-based services is practically boundless. Here are some areas where we are seeing these services being offered and some of the companies providing them.
Tracking and Locating Assets and Resources
Locating assets and resources is one of the most established categories of location-based services (LBS). People have been using GPS for navigation for decades. The military started using RFID to track the location of their containers almost 20 years ago. GM’s OnStar was launched in 1996, offering turn-by-turn navigation, remote diagnostics, stolen vehicle tracking, and a red emergency button that sends the vehicle location data and connects the driver to an OnStar call center. Over the past decade, GPS volumes have skyrocketed and prices plummeted so that now many individuals own GPS-based navigation systems as well. Now we are seeing many different types of asset tracking in hospitals, manufacturing plants, highways, railways, ports, distribution centers … really just about everywhere.
In construction, surveying, agriculture, fleet management and field service—guiding vehicles and equipment (tractors, graders, pavers), positioning & aligning building, road/rail corridor before and during construction, tracking vehicles, navigation, etc.
GiSTEQ, and most major cameras and smart phones
Photo Geotagging (latitude, longitude, altitude) and Geocoding (street address etc.), adds location information to photographs. Many of the smart phone applications are consumer oriented.
Garmin, Magellan, Tom Tom
GPS-based navigation for all modes of transportation (cars, trucks, boats, planes, trains)
Inertial and RF-based geolocation technologies and navigation solutions for first responders, soldiers, and others working in GPS-denied locations.
RFID-based (non-RTLS) asset tracking devices and systems, including high-memory tags for recording maintenance activities, condition, etc.
Telematics for managing global transportation assets, including trailer fleets, rail, marine. Using Satellite and cellular-based platforms to track things like where and when a trailer starts and stops, if a door is opened en route, etc.
Locating forklifts and other vehicles in a warehouse
Tracking and Locating People
There are a variety of circumstances in which it is valuable to track people, including scarce resources (doctors, repair technicians, etc.), loved ones, and people in dangerous places.
Tracking patients, doctors, nurses, as well as pharmaceuticals, and equipment moving through a hospital.
Tracking location of family members based on the GPS from their phone
Anonymously tracks the movements of people through stores and other venues (e.g. banks) and analyzes their behavior and customer experience - where they go, what they respond to, how long they wait in line, etc.
This belongs in its own category, but we put it here for lack of a better fitting category, since it does track where a person has been on their bike. Developed at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, it is a bicycle wheel that captures energy from the bike's momentum when the brakes are applied, stores that energy in a battery, and then gives back that energy to drive a small motor helping the rider go up hills and/or pedal further. But in addition (here’s the location-based part), it periodically collects data including riding habits, calories burned and environmental data—carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature, and relative humidity—as you ride through the city (or country-side). Apparently, it stamps the data with location information to create a map of that information along the routes you cycle. The data can be shared, so if there are many riders, it creates a dense and granular environmental map of the city. Now that’s a cool LBS!
Safety and Security
Location information is increasingly being used to enhance safety and security – reducing incidents and responding to them more effectively when they do happen.
Location Aware Safety System, precisely tracks personnel in high risk environments.
RedConnect provides location information for emergency calls made from multi-line PBX systems that may span one or more campuses or large complexes.
Locates stolen vehicles or other high-value property.
Personal/Consumer Servicesand Location-Based Social Networking
Location-based services for the consumer and location-based sales and marketing (next category below this one) are the hottest growth areas in LBS. Since the advent of the iPhone, Android OS, and smart phones in general, there has been intense competition and a plethora of new applications vying for the attention of consumers—helping them find nearby friends, activities, stores and merchandise, and a variety of other innovations based on the user’s current location.
Personal/Consumer Services and Location-Based Social Networking
Predicts the density of people in urban square-block areas worldwide at any hour, any day of the week based on anonymous location data from the tens of millions of devices running Skyhook's Core Engine (including every iPhone and Dell netbook, and leading Android apps).
Place-based Social Networking: Users add "spots" and activities as they visit various locations, tell friends where they are, rate locations, get points for loyalty, become the "mayor" by visiting a location more than anyone else, etc.
Scan the barcode of any product using their phone’s built-in camera, then it searches for the best prices from local and online retailers. Delivers information about inventory in nearby stores, based on your location.
Mobile shopping, advertising, and charitable donations rolled into one. Presents a list of nearby stores on your phone. Going to the store earns points, you choose a charity from their list, and the advertiser sends you a message saying they made a donation on your behalf.
Keep in mind, this is just a sampling of the tidal wave of applications out there and coming soon. While some of these are in their infancy, a number of these applications are mature with literally millions of users.
It feels a bit like where we were with the internet in the late 90s. We expect to see many new and exciting location-based services this year and next, limited only by people’s imagination and their appetite for these kinds of services. Many of these will fall by the wayside, but there will also be a few more “Amazons,” “eBays,” and “Googles” arising in this new category.