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The future’s bright, the future’s ubiquity



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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

@ If you're still reading this.... shouldn't be. Your browser should have been redirected to my new blog

11:55:34 AM      

Sunday, January 23, 2005

@ Log now on Blogspot...

After a long break from blogging, I've started again, but I've moved my blog over to Blogspot....

My site is still at

9:14:35 PM      

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

@ Back to blog

Any postings are now hosted at my main site

3:37:08 PM      

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

@ Blocked blog....

Fellow mobilists, please forgive the lack of activity on my blog of late. I am focussing on developing lengthier articles to publish on my site, instead of the current blog format. Feedback from visitors and friends indicates a preference for weightier opinion pieces and technology briefings. Please sign up to my email list to be notified of the next article, which should be available sometime in October.

2:16:26 AM      

Saturday, July 31, 2004

@ Location privacy...

When teaching or discussing the principles and uses of location-based services, I am often asked about privacy and legal implications. I usually give anecdotal answers based on what I perceive to be operator approaches, which I assume to be best practise and legally valid. However, I did manage to track down the actual legal position in terms of rights to privacy enshrined within European Law.

Article 9 of the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive requires that location data may only be used with the consent of the subscriber. Moreover, it should remain possible for subscribers and users even if they have subscribed to a location based service, to temporarily block the tracing facility.

12:33:09 PM      

Thursday, July 29, 2004

@ Running on air...


As someone who does a bit of running to keep fit, I can testify to the psychological importance of measuring one's performance. Most of the time, I feel the need to time my runs. Of course, I am looking for improvement, or at least consistency.


I am also interested to know how far I have run. With a friend from Motorola, I brain-stormed possible measuring apparatus for precision distance measurement. Most of the time, we gravitated toward optical measurement solutions using cameras, akin to the way an optical mouse works.


I was intrigued to find out about a pair of training shoes, I think by Nike, that include a microprocessor. I instantly assumed this was for such measurements, but it turns out to be a real-time controller for pumping goo around the sole of the shoe to adjust damping. I did think this might prove useful, with some kind of bio-feedback, to help avoid injuries.


It seems that Philips/Nike have now addressed the measurement problem. As one might expect, the solution is also an entertainment device, centred on music - or audio, playback. MP3 of course, hence the name, MP3Run. Fantastically, the sensor that straps on the shoe, communicating via Bluetooth back to the main arm- or body-strapped unit, uses 2D accelerometers to do the sensing. As a user of an air-mouse, I have an enthusiasm for these groovy sensors, so I was enthused by their use in this application.


Just take a read of Philip's whitepaper about the device to appreciate the processing power of the solution:


When the player is used for the first time, the runner does not necessarily have to input information on aspects such as length of stride beforehand. The sensor on the shoe measures 1000 times per second acceleration/deceleration of each stride using a 2 dimensional acceleration sensor. This information is used by a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) to re-construct the actual gait and be finally able to give precise information about momentary speed and hence distance.


That’s what I called a usable system, at least on paper. No messing with stride measurements and the usual pedometer configurations – just strap, listen and run. Or, at least, I hope it isn’t listen, run and strap, after tripping on a kerb whilst fiddling with the controls. Let’s wait and see. I think I’m in the market for one of these goodies. Due out in August.


Now, how can we combine this unit with Spatial Messaging solutions? I'm thinking on that one......

9:29:00 PM      

Friday, July 23, 2004

@ Mobile Location Spam...

There is a lot of excitement about the potential of location-based services. All kinds of applications are being dreamt up, but what they have in common is interrupting the user with a message when they enter into a zone of interest. The problem is how to set up rules sufficiently intelligent that the messages received are actually wanted, or useful. Clearly, careful opt-in schemes are one solution, but rather crude. This option denies the genuine possibility of receiving useful information without expressly signing up for it.

Opt-in is really a defence mechanism, not an information filter. In a "whole product" seamless information experience, one might argue that "the system" ought to know what I'm interested in and send me useful stuff without me asking for it. In other words, opt-in is clumsy.

Intelligent push of location-sensitive information requires an agent that understands our interests and habits. This requires a wider scope than just retailing. Someone interested in archaeology might be willing to receive information about important sites as they drive past. If this sounds mundane (“I don’t want that...”), the trick is to ponder on which convergence of information and spatial contexts would interest you. Experience of giving many courses in this area has taught me that everyone eventually comes up with not just one, but many such contexts that suit them.

Nonetheless, spam is still a real problem. In the email world, it is potentially a killer for wireless email without effective defences. Any wireless email solution has to include spam-defence as a must-have, in addition to a variety of other context sensitive filters, adjusting content by the moment, movement, and for “me” (as discussed in my book).

In Europe, the law is clear that mobile push advertisement services must be explicit opt-in. In the US, similar legal trends are emerging, following on the heels of the CAN-SPAM edict against email spamming.  Brian McWilliams describes a lawsuit filed last month by Verizon against 50 unidentified “John Does” who are spamming mobiles.

Clearly, a strong legal deterrent is useful, but we need to tread carefully. How do we cater for intelligent location-based advertising? For example, would it be legally justifiable to say, “I knew that Joe Soap was interested in buying a new Mazda (from his web surfing 3rd party cookies - see previous post), which is why I sent the message”? Is it a variation on the “open gate” invitation to the front door in UK case law?


10:38:50 AM      

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