Nokia's research department has been busy beavering away to expand Nokia's tech domain from cellphones to the "next big thing" in lifestyle technology: Location-based services. The company is developing devices that'll track your position or any items that you own—everywhere you go.
It's easy to understand just why Nokia is keen on exploring this future tech—just type "location-based services" into Google, and you get over 20 million hits. Even Apple has revealed significant plans in this direction with a series of protective patents.
Nokia's concept tech is basically an expansion on the assisted-GPS tech that's increasingly embedded in devices like cellphones. GPS doesn't work very well indoors, of course, since overhead radio satellites aren't particularly visible through walls and ceilings—AGPS works to compliment GPS by adding in reference points like known Wi-Fi transmitters or cellphone towers. But its positional accuracy tends to be limited to when these "assistive" signals can be found.
Nokia plans a hybrid system that will combine RFID tags, Bluetooth and near-field communications in small keychain-sized devices that communicate with a central hub—perhaps an advanced smartphone. Currently the technology can tag 100 items and has a range of around 100 meters, and uses the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure in buildings to triangulate different tags and hub locations. The Wi-Fi net is augmented with special transmitter arrays that improve positional accuracy down to about a meter.
The potential for this tech is boundless: As the video above shows, Nokia envisages it helping you find your way to the right gate at an unfamiliar airport for example. But there's scope for the tech getting you back to your car in a huge parking lot, or finding your lost (tagged) house keys when you've dropped them somewhere. And, of course, if the tags transmitted their identity using some open standard, then specifically tailored digital adverts would be possible. Imagine walking into a cellphone store and getting an advert broadcast at you that targets your particular choice of device.
That might sound like an Orwellian privacy nightmare to many. But with the price and size of the components of this technology dropping all the time, and big tech players becoming interested, you can count on some form of this advanced location-based service tracking pretty much everything in your life sometime soon.