With the recent announcement of the first Tango-enabled smart phone, Google have taken a big step towards providing a crowd-sourced, indoor mapping solution. The phone’s inbuilt sensors and cameras capture the dimensions of a location and everything inside it, including the furniture. Once captured, all that internal detail becomes a potential back drop for a variety of augmented and virtual reality applications, including interior design and construction, shopping, education and gaming.
Although the data files collected are stored on each phone, Google hopes users will share their Tango data. Perhaps most appealing for Google, although not yet confirmed, the internal data collected and shared by Tango users will provide another platform for expanding their custom advertising and services.
As with other forms of location-based data, there are privacy implications to consider; it’s no longer just where you are or have been, that’s being shared, it is potentially detailed information about your home, your visits to other locations and what you did and saw there. Just how far people will be prepared to trade this new source of location data for services remains to be seen, but given the success of Google Maps and the increasing demand for better internal location information, Tango could help transform the indoor mapping scene.
The Hudson Yards project is not only one of the largest real estate development projects in the USA but also one of the largest city-wide data collection projects. To facilitate this data capture, a significant component of the project is a new digital infrastructure that will track human behaviour on an unprecedented scale.
Working with a number of technologies previously used for mapping and monitoring more remote locations, in conjunction with a myriad of sensors, cell phone and wifi technology, the project designers and planners aim to capture data everyone is interested in – pollution levels, water usage, traffic, retail patterns and much more.
One of the contributors makes an interesting point about the project having access to a range and quality of data not currently available from public data sources but didn’t elaborate on whether the public would also have access to some or all of this data.
Almost a year ago we posted a review on the Internet of things, an emerging global network of internet-connected devices and sensors, so with the end of 2013 fast approaching it seems like a good time to see how things have developed over the last 12 months and what 2014 and beyond has in store for us. In his article How the internet of things will replace the web Christopher Mims predicts that the internet will change beyond all current recognition, with the role of the web reduced to displaying content. Although the dominant ‘species’ of the internet of things is currently the smartphone, with the latest versions kitted out with sensors and apps for tracking and monitoring many aspects of our lives, wearable technology – smart watches, wristbands, glasses, even temporary tattoos – will become increasingly prevalent as personal sensors and the medium for controlling the connected devices around us.
Accompanying these developments in the available devices are significant improvements in the levels of accuracy in location tracking with versions of GPS technology, such as Apple’s iBeacon technology, that work indoors. With this increasing accuracy comes the emergence of ‘invisible’ or ‘spatial’ buttons, which according to Amber Case (Esri) are simply locations in space in which some response is triggered when a person or a device enters that space. For example, walking into or out of a room automatically turns the lights on/off, or turning on the security system when you leave home. Needless to say, the potential for using this type of technology as a marketing tool hasn’t been missed. British Airways has already launched a new campaign called ‘Look Up‘ with an interactive billboard in London informing passers-by what aircraft is passing overhead and current deals on that particular route.
Along with the changing role of the web, Mims also discusses the emergence of what some refer to as anticipatory computing, as the internet develops from simply responding to requests to anticipating those requests based on past location, actions and preferences. As with most technical innovations, there will be both benefits and costs; the benefits should mean we have much more control over the resources we use, the cost will be having to make a lot of our personal information available to make this happen.