Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are

February 7, 2009

Technology

cell-towersCell phone coverage is quite interesting.  I use a Sprint-based phone and my wife uses and AT&T phone (both provided by our employers).  So both of us have different qualities of service in various points throuhout the house.  I have reasonable coverage on the perimeter of the house.  And my wife has excellent coverage on the east side of the house.  Thanks to Google Latitude, I now know why Cindy has different coverage on different sides of the house.

Cindy has a BlackBerry Pearl.  And I have helped her to set up Google Latitude on her phone.  BTW, the BlackBerry version of Latitude is quite good.  And it seems quite different than the Windows Mobile version that runs on my phone.  But that is grist for a different post.  I had a few minutes tonight so I figured that I would finalize the setup so that her phone was associated with Google Latitude and her Google account.  I also went ahead and set her account to update her location automatically.

Since her phone doesn’t have GPS, Google got the location information from the cell tower that Cindy’s phone was associated with.  So Cindy and I learned that her phone was communicating with a cell tower across the highway about a mile south of us.   I thought this was kind of cool.  So I called her into the classroom to show her the Latitude application from within iGoogle.  And she walked into the classroom on the east side of the house.  Within two minutes, I noticed that her location shifteed to someplace to the east of our house.  In fact, she had moved between towers just by moving thirty feet to the east.   And when she walked back to the living room, her location changed in Latitude – indicating that she had associated with the original tower.

Both of us thought that this was realy cool – and quite startling.  Google has done a good job making sure that the customer must provide approvals before anyone can see/consume location information about your account.  But most folks won’t be paying detailed attention.  Therefore, I wonder how many people will unkowingly give all sorts of location data to all sorts of people – including Google.  Yes, tracking kids may become easier.  But being tracked by Google (or other entities) will also be much easier.

-Roo

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