What began as flurries of geolocation apps to enhance your social life has now turned into a full-on blizzard. There's Foursquare, Highlight, Glancee, Sonar and Banjo, just to name a few. All alert you to connections you share with people where ever you go.
Standing in line at Cafe Mustache, waiting to order your double-half-caf-soy-latte, updating your Facebook profile on your smartphone? Just 'Liked' Frank Ocean's new album, Channel Orange, on Pitchfork? Guess what? So did that wispy girl in the corner pecking away on her MacBook Pro. Not only that, she's a student at the Art Institute, just like you.
If you're bored by life's happy accidents and this manufactured serendipity is your cup of tea, then you'll be happy to know some researchers in the U.K. could be taking geolocation apps one step further. They've developed technology that may predict where you are going.
Where you've been and where you are may soon become passé, thanks to Mirco Musolesi, a computer scientist at the University of Birmingham who helmed the project. He and his team created an algorithm that tracks your own mobility patterns and adjusts for irregularities by factoring the movements of mutual contacts in your smartphone.
Using 200 people that were willing to be followed, the algorithm proved to be quite accurate. It predicted where a person would be 24 hours later by less than 65 feet. When the same system predicted a person's potential location using only past movements (without the movements of friends), the average margin of error was just under 3,281 feet.
Of the 200 people tracked, all lived withing Lausanne, Switzerland. Many were students and researchers, who Musolesi said are relatively predictable. However, he did say results of the study were insightful.
"We are essentially exploiting the synchronized rhythm of the city," he told Technology Review.
Credit: Mirco Musolesi