Reminder: You Were Here
By Mike Masnick, Wed Jun 08 22:30:00 GMT 2005

While the early expectation was that location-based services would be focused on directions and local coupons, it looks like increasingly innovative solutions are starting to show up.

Location-based offerings have been slow to catch on for a while, but for a variety of very good reasons. The technology wasn't really ready, and many of the early applications were somewhat misguided, focusing more on ways that advertisers could "push" intrusive advertisements to subscribers. Those were often seen as being more annoying than useful.

However, that doesn't mean there isn't a huge opportunity in location-based services for mobile devices. One big area is in using the handset as a gateway between the digital and analog worlds. In most cases so far, this has been seen in things like scanning barcodes with cameraphones to get more information (such as comparison shopping prices) on products being sold. However, there have been a few examples that make greater use of location information, such as virtual tours.

Russell Buckley is discussing a slightly different, but similar, application that would let people leave location-based reminders for themselves in various places. While Russell isn't sure how people will actually use it, there certainly are a few interesting ideas -- such as reminding yourself which shops had certain products you might want to buy. Another idea would require being able to access the meta-data in another way, so that you could look at a map of reminders and recognize how you could string together a series of errands.

From there, it's not hard to see how some other extensions on this idea could be useful. Combined with a social networking system, it could be possible to leave location-based reminders for your friends, telling them which shops or restaurants to check out. Or, it could be useful in reminding you of the name of the bartender or maitre d' at a certain restaurant. It basically allows a user to expand his or her memory capacity on a location-based vector -- something that hasn't really been feasible before. It might not be for everyone, but it does show how more creative uses of location-based services are finally starting to show up.