location awareness

Location awareness is a component of presence technology that delivers information about a device's physical location to another user or application. The term is most often used in reference to mobile communication devices and cameras but it can also refer to websites that request a user's zip code to deliver targeted information.

A device's location is usually determined by one of three methods: by GPS satellite tracking, by cellular tower triangulation, or by the device's media access control (MAC) address on a Wi-Fi network.

Location awareness is a growingtrend in hardware and software. Here are a few of the current applications:

  • Camera memory cards that automatically tag the location of a picture.
  • Application programs (apps) on smartphones.
  • GPS systems in vehicles.
  • Supply chain management (SCM).
  • Healthcare device management.

As location awareness becomes more prevalent, so do concerns about privacy and security. The IETF has a working group, Geographic Location/Privacy (geopriv) to explore ways to safeguard users while furthering the technology.

See also: real-time location system (RTLS), location-based service (LBS), geolocation, pervasive computing

Read more about location awareness:

Congress hears testimony on location-based services and online privacy

Real-time location systems: Can you find me now?

This was last updated in December 2010

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