Friday, July 18, 2008

The Marauders Map - GeoPresence

Fans of Harry Potter will know the Marauders Map helped him greatly in his adventures.

The map showed him, in real time, the Hogwarts school and where each wizard was at any given moment. (For old gaming fans - the whole concept of seeing where everyone was on a map was like Escape from Colditz boardgame - by Parker - remember that ?)

Finding latitude and longitude from triangulated cell-towers or increasingly directly from GPS chips emebedded in the phone is standard fare and there's many geo-presence mobile services that can pinpoint you and others on a mobile map in realtime.

We built an in-house rudimentary version a while ago (using LBS and Googlemaps) and then added Facebook status on top. I could see my colleagues on a map in near real-time (as long as they had their mobile switched on and were in coverage) with their FB status and they could see me.

It was immediately obvious of the need for privacy and context. (Who wants to be tracked at all times ?) Child/prisoner/friend/parcel tracking and reality mining can all genuinely useful in the right context but getting that bit right with privacy/security/rights etc... is a whole different debate. Still, the technology is there.

I suspect there will be a lot more useful services mashing mobile location together with other features (I mentioned a couple previously such as wikinear and tweet cloud) rather than ** just ** social geo-presence.

Will we see an explosion of mobile-based geo-presence mashups when everyone's got a Marauders map in their pocket ?