Location is an old question that, until recently, required a complex answer. In a report published by ABI Research in March of 2008, an estimated 1 billion GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) chip sets will be shipped annually by 2013. People will be able to not only describe their whereabouts, but actually see exactly where they are in reference to all that surrounds them – and do so cheaply. The LBS (Location Based Services) industry has evolved to the point that such a feat is easy, can occur in real-time, and results can be shared or viewed by others.
As exciting as it is to see how GPS is forging the way for LBS, ABI’s report fails to take into account the market for emerging technologies that are superior to GPS in providing accurate location reporting. GPS, despite its merits, suffers from a debilitating weakness: the requirement for line of sight to the sky. GPS devices locate themselves using a signal that is broadcast from satellites that orbit the planet. Any obstruction between the GPS unit and the satellite results in a communication failure. To address such a crippling weakness, the LBS industry has developed more advanced technologies. One such technology, cellular assisted GPS, sits poised to revolutionize the multi-billion dollar business of location finding and tracking. Cellular assisted GPS utilizes the already familiar cellular technologies in place to aid and improve GPS in terms of accurate location reporting. Assisted GPS devices allow for location reporting even when satellite communication is not an option through cellular triangulation. By timing communications between multiple stationary cell towers and the mobile locator device, very accurate location information can be extrapolated in real-time.
The ability to use locating devices that work under strained and impaired conditions opens up the market even wider for the adoption of LBS on a global scale. Assisted GPS systems can be implemented cheaply in many areas not satisfied by GPS alone. In the personal security market, such a device could be deployed as an executive protection measure or child monitoring tactic. Theft prevention is a vast and ever increasing market for real-time location reporting that requires the ability to pin-point items obstructed from sight. The possibilities for fleet management, military intelligence, law enforcement, cargo tracking, navigation, and corporate business model planning are just a few of those conceived to date. These markets alone incorporate a very large fraction of the world’s population.
A key feature inherent in LBS technology is its adaptability. With very simple and inexpensive additions or modifications, an assisted GPS device is capable of delivering detailed status information. Devices are in use today that allow farmers to track fresh produce to the marketplace while monitoring the temperature of their cargo en route. As a business model, LBS help to reduce product loss and increase efficiency. By alerting monitors in real-time with such detailed information, it allows them to take the steps necessary to promptly resolve any issue. Such technology also increases consumer safety by ensuring that a shipment reaches its destination under established guidelines. With such capabilities, it would not stretch the imagination to see produce vendors requesting access to such data. Data gathered could be employed as a quality control measure as well as a very effective marketing tool. IContain created a remote asset management device that will enable anti-theft like control over assets in the RTO (Rent-to-Own) business. Customers who rent appliances from TV’s to Stereo’s no longer can walk to the pawn shop down the road and just sell the equipment. The cellular devices built for the RTO space will enable remote shut down and control off any critical asset from any distance. This has radically changed the landscape of the 8 Billion dollar RTO industry. Todd Kleperis, creator and founder of IContain has seen massive interest from RTO dealers in this device. “It’s just like a master remote control for the RTO stores, consider us the Onstar for your TV.” Most people have never even seen remote management of devices but it exists even in your vending machine.
Smart electronics are driving locations and soon your specific location when you use them. Imagine the day when your TV set that you just rented lets the store owner know if its still at your house or at your neighbors for the super bowl party. Gone are the days when you could just ignore the store manager who calls to ask for payment. Your home may never be the same.