THE FUTURE OF TRACKING DEVICES

If you own a smart phone, there’s an excellent chance that you use multiple location-based services. Many standard apps including pre-loaded apps such as Maps and Weather utilize a user’s location to give the user instantaneous updates. The downside is that there is a tracking device within a user’s phone that can be hacked – fairly simply, even – and monitored.

Moreover, technology marches on, and new ideas for location-based services and tracking devices are conceived daily. Technological progress is not linear; it entails the emergence and implementation of game-changing ideas, and every day people from all backgrounds come up with solutions to modern inconveniences. Tracking device technology is a gateway to many of these solutions.

This article will consider the new ways in which location tracking services are evolving, and ways in which location-based service may yet evolve. Read on to learn more about the Future of Tracking Devices.

THE TRACKING DEVICE TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE

Some technologies have minor effects, and some cause ripples that last generations. Tracking device technology belongs to the latter category.

Again, think for just a moment at all of the services incorporate tracking device technology: Find My iPhone, restaurant location finders, sports league and sports team apps such as the NFL app, dating apps that use locators (which is almost all of them), apps such as CarGurus that determines local pricing… the list is enormous.

If you use a mobile phone, you likely use a dozen or more services that incorporate tracking device technology. And you probably hadn’t given the matter a moment’s thought.

Here are three prominent ways in which tracking device technology is currently used:
  • GPS TECHNOLOGY
  • IPS - Indoor Positioning System
  • CLOUD AND FOG COMPUTING

GPS TECHNOLOGY

tracking device for navigation

The services listed above are GPS-based technologies. Those with even a modicum of tech savvy already use these services and have been reliant to them.

Gone are the days when someone would check a road map to find a destination. In the not-so-distant past, people would plot out road trips on websites such as Mapquest and print out directions, which must seem hilariously quaint to those who have always had a smartphone.

Today, the GPS Technology on any smartphone eliminates the need for such runaround, and saves a lot of time for on-the-go individuals. However, the concern remains that common sense is becoming a lost art, as the GPS Technology on our smartphones can put our basic reasoning on autopilot.

After all, why waste time remembering directions to someone’s house when the GPS Technology on your smartphone knows every turn and even re-routes in the event of road closure or construction?

The trade-off is that basic skills like sense of directions are becoming duller by the day. But that’s a discussion for a different day.

GPS Technology will continue to expand for the following reasons:
  • Targeted advertising on mobile devices is clearly the future of advertising. There’s no need to run a shot-in-the-dark ad on now-archaic technologies like radio or television when an advertiser can cherry-pick based on a potential customer’s exact preferences and geographic location.
  • An area that few may have considered is livestock welfare tracking, which is utilized by services such as DigitAnimal. Services such as this allow breeders and farmers to track the location of their animals while allowing them to graze freely. These same GPS trackers also allow breeders to monitor the health of their animals. Given the demand and rise in popularity of grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, etc., there is little doubt that this area will continue to grow.
  • Gaming, including mobile gaming, is an ever-expanding market, and gaming continues to trend toward complete virtual reality. In fact, there is now a term for GPS Technology within this field: Virtual Reality Tracking System. This area will undoubtedly continue to grow.
  • These are just a few applications for GPS Technology, and it would not be difficult to come up with a dozen more with little thought. GPS and tracking device technology is just not an issue that most people have taken the time to consider.

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    IPS - indoor positioning system

    woman looking at link of friends

    An area in which GPS systems lag is indoors, as trackers lose their viability when satellite connection is lost. To counter this, a second technology is currently under development, and that technology is called IPS, or indoor positioning system.

    IPS is not only the subject of numerous research studies, but also a rapidly-growing business. For example, one company uses lighting as its IPS.

    Another company called SPREO works with advanced algorithms, and uses data inputs from multiple sensors and technologies to calculate a person’s exact location. This is so sophisticated that it includes latitude, longitude and elevation (e.g. floor number) of the person holding a device.

    That said, most IPS applications are still in their infancy. While most current IPS are able to calculate an object or person’s indoor position, but most technologies still require major fine-tuning in order to accurately track an object in motion.

    In the near future, as IPS continues to evolve and improve, it will likely be integrated with GPS to create a seamless tracking system.

    CLOUD AND FOG COMPUTING

    cloud computing

    Most people are familiar with cloud computing at this point. Cloud computing is defined as “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.”

    A progression of cloud computing is Fog computingwhich is “a decentralized computing infrastructure in which data, computer, storage and applications are distributed in the most logical, efficient place between the data source and the cloud.”

    Fog computing is essentially an extension of cloud computing. The process brings the data from the cloud closer to where the data is created and used, increasing power and efficiency. It’s simply cloud technology evolving.

    A company called CISCO created this technology, claiming that it allows for the localization of control and provides faster communication between devices without requiring access to cloud storage.

    Some may wonder how fog computing connects to tracking device technology, as the two do not sound interrelated at first. However, fog computing requires location information in order to create a more comprehensive infrastructure. This is where tracking device technology comes into play.

    This evolution potentially benefits advertisers, as people will find a way to charge for this increased convenience and efficiency as many already do with cloud services.

    The biggest concern is the same issue most have with tracking device technology, which is less privacy.

    This isn’t to say that fog computing is wholly unethical or evil. The technology can potentially benefit the community. One example would be smart traffic lights allowing emergency vehicles through without any delays. Another example would be limiting or eliminating power outages completely through the use of a fog reserve.

    But this technology is currently at the inception stage, and is far from perfected. Still, this is a direction in which tracking device technology is clearly headed, and is worth thinking upon.

    CONCERNS WITH TRACKING DEVICE TECHNOLOGY

    The opponents of tracking device technology have the same concerns as they always have, which are mostly ethical.

    A company called Axestrack has created a personal tracking that allows monitoring, and the idea was likely conceived with good intentions. For example, a parent can place an Axestrack device in a child’s book bag in order to make sure that the child gets to and from school without incident.

    The device even includes an SOS button, which someone can use in place of a mobile phone if they are in distress. This undoubtedly relieves the anxiety of many parents, some of whom live in fear of their children coming to harm.

    Privacy is the trade-off. Though generations of people have successfully thrived in the absence of personal trackers, today’s parents cannot help but micromanage their children. Devices like Axestrack are rapidly growing in appeal, as many parents wish to know the whereabouts of their children at all times.

    Moreover, there’s clearly a market for this technology, and savvy businesses have recognized that anxious parents will throw endless amounts of money at any technology that will theoretically improve the safety of their children. As demand grows, the incentive for businesses to pay for product development will as well, leading to continued growth of this technology.

    All of this isn’t to paint Axestrack in particular in a negative light. Personal tracking device technology has a lot of positive uses. Those prone to wandering off and potentially getting lost or injuring themselves – young children, dogs, older people in cognitive decline – can potentially live safer thanks to devices such as Axestrack.

    But as noted above, the demand will continue to grow, igniting further development of tracking device technology as well as ways in which to implement it.

    The Future of Tracking Devices is bright but undefined. People are coming up with new ways to utilize tracking devices on an almost-daily basis, and businesses have incentive to continue to develop different skews of this tech. Location-based services will likely be incorporated further into every area of business, improving efficiency in retail and optimizing the consumer experience.

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