From a purely technical perspective, finding the user is as easy as it gets in terms of LBS technology. The government's E911 mandate means the carriers already have this technology in place. However the business, privacy and political barriers to being able share this data on a mobile network is another story.But follows up with this news that:
One of those barriers has fallen. For the first time a US carrier has given users the ability to share their location with a third party mobile web site. Granted, the third party is Microsoft, but it's a start, ...Note that the press release refer to GPS, as always, even though its pretty obviously (and seamlessly) using lower-precision methods when the satellites aren't visible. Its not the ubiquitous context-enabling technology I'd like to see, but it certainly sounds reasonably easy and better than you'd expect. Now, if Sprint would just open up like they claim they will for the WiMax product, and offer the same service without giant strategic partnerships, we'd all be better off. But its proof the carriers can do it anytime they want to. As long I'm on location technologies again, I wanted to mention Nokia's Point and Find. There's a useful video of this that I embedded on the work blog. It involved installing players as its an FLV, and I haven't gotten around to doing that stuff on the home server yet. They talk a lot about it essentially replacing QR codes (good!) but I like the part where its a location service: point at a building, and look for ATMs near "here." While this is clearly pretty new and edgy — and building a useful searchbase outside of the bay area will take forever — its good to see the principle applied of using whatever technology and information there is on the device, and in the environment to provide a better and more relevant experience. I'd also like to see services like this (and yes, I know there are others working on it also), like Akoo, and Shazam investigate always-scanning modes. I'll bet everyone will be paranoid about the technology, but if the device could be listening or looking and decide you are in a restaurant, vs. on the busy street 10 feet away, it could react much more appropriately in many ways.