This article was written as part of a series of articles on LinkedIn, on Big Ideas for 2015. You're invited to share and comment either on LinkedIn or here.
We've gotten so used to GPS on our smartphones - to being able to find any location and how to get there, to having real-time traffic reports and directions, to having pictures geotagged, and more - that we take it for granted. The location transformation feels complete. But GPS does not work indoors, and tends to drain smartphone batteries.
I think the biggest change in 2015 #BigIdeas2015 is that the location transformation will be universal. Location will work everywhere. Most importantly, once it works everywhere, it can work for us, instead of our having to work for it.
This is the key thing about location. When it only works outside, and when it takes a lot of battery and CPU, it's not really always available. It's available when we ask for it, when we run an app or invoke a phone feature that uses it. But it's not yet always there.
Imagine, though, if your phone knew where you were every second of the day, without killing your CPU or battery. Then you could be reminded as you approach a particular store in the mall that you want to buy something there, or can be told as you walk through a museum that a good friend of yours is one room over. Your phone can switch to vibrate when you enter a meeting room or theater, tag your Facebook posts with the name of the coffee shop your sitting in and not the one down the hall, remember where you parked in the underground parking lot, remind you to pick up some pages as you walk by the printer, remind you to call your wife as you leave the office, and much more.
In short, until now location was about maps. In 2015 it will be about apps.
And after 2015 makes location universal on our phones, 2016 will make location universal in our other things as well. Not only will our phones know where we are, so will our door locks and vacuum cleaners, so will our TVs and entertainment systems, so will our lights and air conditioners, and so will hundreds of other things around our homes, offices and public areas. And our phones will know where our keychains, wallets, and other losable things are. Yes, it's a bit big brother-ish. Or a lot. So maybe it won't happen in public spaces. But in our homes, having our air conditioners and lights know where we are, and having our phones know where our keychains and wallets are, is just over the horizon.
There are hundreds of companies developing the technologies that will make location universal. And there are many different technologies that need to come together to make it happen. They're on the way.
A new technology called SLAM is working to enable location to work anywhere, without preparing a site or installing infrastructure. A radio technology called UWB is moving precise location into things all around us. Several new technologies are giving indoor location systems higher accuracy than ever before. And chip companies are adding indoor location tracking to chips in our phones, reducing CPU load and battery drain. And others are working on innovative ways to make indoor location universal.
At the dawn of 2015, we're standing on the cusp of the indoor location transformation, where location goes universal. Is there any mobile app or service, any day-to-day activities that we do on our phones or computers, or any routine activity that we do around our homes, offices, shopping centers or stores, that will not be effected?