What's the Service of LBS?

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Nicolas has been musing about location-based services and mobile devices lately. I have, too. I’ve been wondering if LBS is too..instrumental. The “what’s near me” assumption that over-determines LBS. There seems to be evidence to support this, if only throught the ocean of ATM finder concepts or buzz-my-pocket-when-i’m-near-a-half-off-latte.

Why do I blog this? This weekend I was preparing for the “Survey of Interactive Media” course I am co-teaching. We’re doing the mobile module. We did two weeks on location, cartography and maps; developed a working knowledge of the Google Maps API; and now we’re moving toward the mobile device. The challenge is to give students some intro to prototyping and get them think about ways they can program mobile devices, or develop experiences within the browser.

I wanted to give them an overview of real-world linkages between locative media/maps and mobile devices — ideally some really compelling location-based services.

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Hmmmm…I’m continuing to gather links, but I haven’t found anything that completely knocks my socks off. I love the idea of creating location-based games, certainly, and many are promising. I wonder what the opportunities are for the other part of the world that may play an occasional game, but is mostly distracted by other activities. (I really do enjoy games, and the idea of location-based games; what else is there?)

There are some great experiments/research projects, particularly from Equator Project. I particularly like their Feeding Yoshi concept — hopefully we’ll see some research results or insights in the near future, perhaps around CHI2006.

Social rendezvous seems to be a recurrent theme — Socialight and Dodgeball are two LBS mobile designs that make some good use out of mobile devices and location. The social challenge of coordinating meet-ups is generally reported as a consequential research/development/innovation arena.

A nice paper published on the topic was presented at SIGCHI 2005 titled “Effect of Location-Awareness on Rendezvous Behavior” by David Dearman, Kirstie Hawkey and Kori M. Inkpen from the CS department at Dalhousie University in Halifax.