Location-based services - The next big thing?

Farpoint Group |  Mobile & Wireless

One of the biggest benefits to wireless is summed up in the phrase, "anytime, anywhere". Of course, we've discovered that there are often times and places where wireless can be an interruption or even a downright irritation. But, by and large, the convenience and productivity that's possible in wireless communications guarantee a very bright future for both voice and data mobile communications.

The fact that anytime, anywhere is possible through wireless introduces a very interesting possibility - since we can determine the location of the user via a number of techniques (from GPS satellites to measuring the time it takes the user's signal to reach a number of fixed base-station locations, to many other approaches as well), we can base the response to what a user requests on this location information.

Note that many information services are fundamentally location-independent. If you want to buy a music CD from any of the fine online retailers who offer them, go right ahead. You can do this from the comfort of your desktop computer or (in many cases) from your cell phone or wirelessly-equipped PDA. The nice people in the delivery truck will have it to you shortly. But suppose you want that new CD right now. Wouldn't it be great to be able to find the location of the nearest music store that has your selection in stock, and get directions from your current location to said music store? Location-based services, of course, can provide far more mission-critical information as well. Need a gas station, or even a hospital? The technology exists to allow for all of these, and much more.

What else will you be able to do with LBS? Here are just a few examples:

  • Purchase event-related merchandise while at an entertainment event. Just gotta have that Rolling Stones T-shirt while the boys bang out their greatest hits? You can do it with your wireless phone, and maybe even get a discounted price (OK, maybe not
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