Platform Independent, Location-Based SMS Has Arrived – Enter GeoSMS

Location-enabling technology is making its way into just about every mobile technology these days, and we can now add SMS to that list.  The folks at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) announced recently a new SMS standard they’ve developed known as “GeoSMS” that has the potential to change the way SMS messages are …   Read More

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1905 5

Location-enabling technology is making its way into just about every mobile technology these days, and we can now add SMS to that list.  The folks at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) announced recently a new SMS standard they’ve developed known as “GeoSMS” that has the potential to change the way SMS messages are consumed.

As the name implies, the technology is dead simple.  The standard simply geotags SMS messages by including GPS coordinates and can transmit a mobile phone’s current position, or a remote location selected from a map.  It works by placing location identifiers in the SMS message itself, so for example: “I’m at the pub geo:-37.801631,144.980294,” instead of the traditional “I’m at the pub.”

What’s interesting is that researchers said “Where are you?” is the single most commonly sent SMS in the world, making the need for geotagged messages that much more relevant.  Combined with the GeoSMS standard, the RMIT researchers have launched an Android app called “I Am Here,” which works to identify received GeoSMS messages.  For example, when someone with the Android app installed on their device receives a geotagged SMS, the app shows the location on a map or displays a compass needle and distance counter that can be followed to the destination.  GeoSMS has been developed as an open standard that researchers hope handset manufacturers will begin to build into their phones in future, negating the need for additional applications.

It’s an interesting concept that definitely has potential, though many levels of the mobile ecosystem will have to be on board to make it a viable long-term solution.  What do you think…will it become the widely-deployed standard the RMIT researchers are hoping for?  I think it just might, as long as the right cards fall in place.

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5 comments

  1. @pinpointalerts

    I represent PinPointAlerts.com, and we are a long-time friend of SMS for alert solutions (eg, Major Emergency Alerts, Natural Hazard Alerts, Service Alerts, etc). Right now we give geo-SMS the thumbs down – this service is not readily available enough to be classed as open and non-GPS cell phones have still got a long shelf life to come. GPS-ready smartphones take about two minutes to get a good GPS connection (triangulation is quicker built coordinates are vague). In those two minutes you could use a standard SMS to describe exactly what table you are sitting at in a restaurant, rather than saying "I am here (geo:-37.801631:144.980294)". I agree with Banibrata Dutta – our social conversations and "where i am" responses do not need coordinates. We at PinPointAlerts.com believe geo-SMS will be a slow burner to get going until geo-tagging of SMS messages can takes place instantly. It takes me 10 seconds to accurately describe where I am on SMS – not 2 minutes 10 seconds.

    For now our alert solutions require pre-registration, which dictate that a person wants his/her location to be known for specific reasons. We allow users to register (a) their home, (b) their work location, (c) their commute routes and even (d) the location of an elderly family member. From here we can issue relevant alerts to places that actually matter to our registered users. With these pre-defined locations, we do not require on-the-spot geo-references to issue alerts for major emergencies or other localized service disruptions. Our idea is that 99% of the time you want SMS alerts for emergencies relating to the places outlined in (a)-(d) above. For important SMS alerts we want to know your important locations in advance.

    Instant geo-tagging on smartphones is not quick enough to be dynamic just yet, and therefore the idea of geo-SMS is something we will not be endorsing for some time to come. It may now be recognized as a standard, but slow accurate-GPS connections will be the chief reason for geo-SMS to be slowly consumed en masse.

    Brendan http://www.PinPointAlerts.com

  2. Banibrata Dutta

    Most often when someone sends you a SMS saying "Whare are you?", typically, a spouse, partner, friend, boss, colleague — I don't think they are expecting, or you are expected to give geo-precise coordinates. Our social conversations just don't work this way. Also, responding using this app, takes the "lack-of-trust" to a whole new level. Most often, the responses are "In a meeting", "Meeting a client", "Getting into a cab", "Doing groceries", "At the club", "Gym" etc. and they suffice. Also, there is this whole privacy and security issue, which we've not even touched.

    Finally, this is just an addition to the Applosion going on. Given what we do, where we are, what our mood is, do we start loading up our smartphone with — "Sleeping", "Drunk-n-Drowsy", "Home-work-time", "I-am-presenting", "Taking-a-leak" ?

  3. Banibrata Dutta

    Not so sure that it’s such a great idea. When someone asks you “Where are you?”, is the responder’s intention always to give the accurate geo-coordinates ? I wish the “RMIT researchers” had asked this question as well.

    IMHO, the most typical response of “Where are you?” are responses like “I am in a meeting”, “I am with a client”, “I am at the Gym”, “Doing groceries” etc. It is not fair to assume that the either the receiver of the response or sender wanted-to / were-interested-in knowing the precise geo-coordinates.

    And, in the end, just adds to the App-losion. Are we now expected to have apps called “Taking-a-Leak”, “Sleeping-Now”, “Drunk-n-Out” etc. ??

  4. bob

    It "arrived" prior to this — simply via QR Tags. A QR or 2D Tag is further coded for Location (whether physical world or print) and that geo-awareness is passed on to the User Experience.

    Private, secure, LBS networks are possible with only minor back-end structure. And, no invasion of a User's GPS or even their mobile number (provided you're using an anonymous WAP type of solution). I just tested a WAP chat solution with branded conversation via QR Tag.

    I'd prefer the non-GPS and non-mobile number platform for my customers. If they want to provide that data, great, but, I'm not going to take it from them without their informed consent.

    1. Marto65

      Hi bob, I'd like to know any site about the QR Tag solution you've mentioned above, Many thanks

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