Location-Based Search a Reality

. Sunday, January 24


Quietly, behind the scenes, Google adds another layer of useful technology to expand our world for us. The potential is staggering; it will change the world, according to Mike Elgan. He says it’s been thought of before by visionaries at HP, Microsoft, and Cornell and Duke Universities. But, it’s Google that has made it a reality.

On your iPhone or ‘Droid with location active, Google will now search based on where you are with its new “Near me now” feature. A search for pizza, for instance, will give you a list of all the pizza shops nearby, their phone number and a map to show you where, exactly, it’s at. “Explore right here” will bring up all the notes others have left about that particular pizza shop.

Elgan predicts that this will grow to even more usefulness as the technology matures. For instance, he says, imagine walking down the street by a Starbucks. You phone beeps, and a coupon for latte pops up on your screen. Show your screen to the cashier, and you have an instant discount. Continuing on, you reach home, your phone beeps to let you know UPS had been by to deliver a package, and if you press the button, it will be delivered  by 6 p.m. The possibilities are endless.

While some may see this as giving up a bit of our privacy, we can enjoy a mountain of perks. Of course, it’s supported by ads, and those ads are now context sensitive and relevant, far more than advertising has ever been. History and information about your particular location will be at the tip of your fingers.

Adding to Elgan’s prediction, I can see that individual awareness can bloom exponentially, enabling each of us to actively participate in our surroundings. It just may be the thing that brings social networking into our off-line life and enhances our lives in ways we have yet to imagine.

Star Trek, here we come.