A group of British researchers has developed an algorithm that can predict a mobile device owner’s location in 24 hours, with an average error of 20 meters in early testing.
The University of Birmingham’s Mirco Musolesi, Manlio Domenico, and Antonio Lima were this year’s winners in the Nokia Mobile Data Challenge, for their achievements in using data to map out where a mobile user will be headed over the next day’s time. One author thinks the technology might be able to help fight crime in the future, but Slate’s Will Oremus is thinking commercial — i.e., payments.
“Think of an opt-in service such as Groupon, which offers you discounts at local shops and restaurants based on where you live and what types of things you like to buy,” Oremus writes, following his own conversation with Musolesi from the research team. “If its mobile app could also start tracking and predicting your movements, it would know when to offer you a deal at a lunch spot near your office as opposed to one near your home.”
Musolesi is also aware of what would likely be the primary deterrent to the rapid rollout of this technology: privacy concerns. Groupon would certainly love to know where you’ll be in 24 hours, but is that information you’d like to share with Andrew Mason and company?