04 August 2008

New Next: Geotility

Thanks, Faris. He's the one who came up with that word just now upon reading the column. My title was originally The Journey is the Destination, not "The Journey's the Thing." Don't really know what happened there.
At the beginning of the summer, the third annual Come Out & Play Festival hit New York with a bang – people blanketed the city, turning themselves into game pieces and using space in a creative way to have a good time. From a New York City vs. London photo scavenger hunt to a multiplayer game in which GPS triggers from mobile devices reward teams with tools to help them win, Come Out & Play capitalizes on “city-size fun” by making a city the game board.

Games aren’t the only things that have made places the center of focus: over a year ago, we talked about Dodgeball and Helio's Buddy Beacon as location-themed examples of real time documentation. We’ve come a long way since then: combining geography with technology has progressed exponentially. And yet, our prediction is that it’s only a hint of what’s still to come.

Location-based services are nothing new to us: from package tracking to looking up driving directions, we’ve been using geographic information to help us do things for years. But the current wave of geographically aware technology that has the ability to literally know where we are adds a completely new dimension to our things.

Find a place
Mobile handsets like the iPhone and Nokia Nseries devices seem to be causing the biggest splash in mobile mapping, heightening services and behaviors that we are already familiar with. We use Yelp.com to find new restaurants, bars and boutiques, for example. Now when you’re in a new neighborhood and away from your computer, you can find out which restaurants are blocks away from where you’re standing, and how to get there (you can even add photos taken with your mobile device and write reviews while you’re still there).

Find your friends
Remember Twitter, the micro-blogging platform that let’s you know what your friends are doing? What about Dodgeball, where all of your friends registered on the site are notified on your whereabouts every time you text message? Picture these two services together and on steroids. A new Twitter client for the iPhone (and, probably by the time you read this, for other handsets as well) lets you to see all other users that are close by, so you can know what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.

Tag your photos
Geo-tagging is a behavior quickly becoming ingrained in our photo-uploading activity; now a GPS-enabled mobile device can tag your photos as you upload them directly from your phone so you don’t have to think about it. Handsets aren’t the only players in this space, either: Eye-Fi is a wireless memory card that automatically adds location labels to photos that are uploaded to the Internet, directly from your camera.
I had a ton of fun writing the October 2008 column I submitted last Friday; I'll be able to share at the end of next month.

I'll probably be cross-posting this on House of Naked in a few minutes...
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