Geotagging — it’s almost here and it’s coming to a camera near you! I’ve seen geotagging talked about mostly in relation to adding geographic data to photographs. This, of course, is neat because it allows you to track where exactly you were when you took a picture and then when you link it with time, an instant trip log can be created. I think, though, there can be more to this than just adding a novel layer to your vacation photos. With the price of GPS chips coming down, GPS can be, in the near future, included in a variety of mobile devices. If you know where you are and there’s data out there about where everything else is, then suddenly the world is at your fingertips. It makes concepts like “What to do” from the F2 contest a reality.
Imagine: You’ve landed at an airport in the middle of “somewhere.” Due to some event your next flight is delayed 6-hrs. So you turn on your cell phone and you ask “What can I do where I am in the next 6-hours? By the way, I’m hungry, can you recommend a restaurant?” If you are an active “netizen” then some service has been tracking your likes and dislikes so there exists, out there in the ether, a profile that respresents you. Your profile says you like x-food at x-cost range and you are into art history. So your “What to do” service replies backto you with a list of suggestions for a restaurant. You click on a few, look at the menus, and read some customer reviews and then pick a restaurant. “What to do” asks you would you like to take a taxi, rent a car, or use public transportation. You input “taxi” and one is called for you to meet you at the taxi stand nearest to your location and you are sent a message with the relevent taxi information. Now onto after the meal. Well it turns out, that a few miles from the eatery there’s a small museum of country x’s ancient peoples’ glass art and “What to do” has informed you of it. The service asks again how you want to get there and would you like to purchase a ticket for the museum. Also linked into this is your flight information so if things change, “What to do” let’s you know so you can get back to the airport in plenty of time or if there’s further delay, helps you plan what to do for the remainder of your wait. It would be like having a virtual host. The seeds of this are already coming out of Xerox PARC.
Imagine: My future retirement RV. The road travelling group we belong to is hosting a scavenger hunt that is based upon finding regional donut specialities (ala Alton Brown’s roadtrip series). It’s a 7-states adventure covering the southern states and we have given pictures of the donuts minus the geographic information and nothing more. We’re off! Of course we start by pinging all the usual sources of information: friends, family, and an image matching search site. Through these means, Steve and I have located about 70% of the donuts within a few hours and the rest we’ll have to probe further on as we travel. Next we set waypoints at the known shop locations and ask the computer to plot the fastest course taking in mind the RV and the 2-seater sporty thing we have hitched to the back of the trailer. The first stop is only an hour away from our present position so we’ll go there first. When we get there, as per the rules of game, we take a picture of ourselves with the donut that includes the geotag and get a special electronic “stamp” from the shop as second way to prove we were actually there. While we’re there, we may as well try a few donuts and blog about them to tell the world what think of store-X’s donuts. And we’re off again. The computer recommends a course change as there will be storm activity in state-X, so we plot a new course. In the mean time responses are coming in about the other 30% of the mystery donuts and as each is identified we add another waypoint and the computer alters the journey accordingly. Tomorrow we’ll be able to see some pretty country, but the road is windy and not so good for the RV. So we’ve decided to send the RV on another route and we’ll take the sporty little thing out and meet up with the RV at the RV park in x-town near the 3rd waypoint. Before we go, though, we will send the navigation information to the little sporty car and consult “What to do” for restaurant and site-seeing opportunities. From afar, our family is enjoying our trip, too, as they follow us through pictures, videos, and written stories from our online trip log.
There’s more than just this, so much more. (And notice: there’s no printing involved). Here’s a link to a nice article from CNET that gives a nice summary of geotagging. Read it and think of the possibilities.