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Location based Information Streams

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Title Location based Information Streams
Author(s) Rui Barradas Pereira, GMV
Level Basic
Year of Publication 2011
Logo GMV.png

Location based Information Streams consists on pushing information to the user depending on its location and on the assumption that this information will be useful and welcomed by the user.

The information provided by these services can vary from information of nearest services or stores, to alerts on traffic jams and location based advertising. The information can be provided on demand, or without explicit request from the user.

Application Architecture

Location based Information Services depend normally on an architecture that includes a user mobile device and an information server accessible through the internet.

The user mobile device is usually a mobile phone with internet access, localization capabilities and a rich user interface.

The process normally followed by these applications is:

  • The user mobile device can make requests and send the user position to the information server.
  • The information server receives the user requests and position, determines whether there is relevant information to provide to the user and sends it.
  • The mobile device presents the information to the user.

Variants to this architecture are:

  • SMS can be used for communication between user device and information server.
  • Local databases can be used instead of an online server.
  • Information can be either provided on demand or "pushed" to the user upon some event, such as entering or leaving a certain area.

These applications are considered non-critical applications.

The precision required by these applications is low, being the current accuracy provided by civilian GPS enough.

Push vs. Pull Services

There are 2 main variants of this kind of applications[1]:

  • Pull Services: The user uses the mobile application to request information based on its location. Examples of these applications are applications where the user requests the nearest ATMs and the information server responds with a list of the closest ones, eventually with navigation instructions to get there.
  • Push Services: The position of the user is monitored by the information server and when the user position triggers determined conditions (such as entering a determined area) the information is sent automatically to the user. Normally the user activates the services and normally can configure the conditions in which information is pushed to his device. These services might require that an application is kept running in the background feeding the user position to the information server. Examples of such applications are advertising applications that send discount coupons to users in the proximity of a store.

This kind of services can raise privacy concerns, especially Push Services since the user position might be shared with third-parties without consent. To protect the user from this, some countries have passed legislation to guarantee that the user's position is only used with consent and that no messages are sent unless the service is explicitly activated[2].

Application Examples

Application types that fit in this category are[2]:

  • Requesting the nearest business or service, such as an ATM or restaurant.
  • Receiving alerts, such as notification of a sale on gas or warning of a traffic jam.
  • Location-based mobile advertising.
  • Augmented reality.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality using mobile phone

The information provided by location based information streams can be presented to the user using augmented reality. Augmented reality consists in enhancing real-world environments with information that can be superimposed on the images[3]. This technology was originally used in the head-up displays of aircraft[4] and in some luxury cars[5] and is currently being used on mobile devices to display additional information over the image being captured.

The combination of LBS and augmented reality technologies allows to have information about the surrounding of the user superimposed in real-world images. The image captured, positioning information and the inertial sensors information of the devices are used to determine the position and orientation of the device and the digital artefacts are superimposed over the image in a realistic way. Augmented reality provides a blending reality with the additional location based information that the user requires in a seamless and intuitive way[1].