Location services make the Internet three-dimensional and ubiquitous. Today’s smartphones not only know where they are to within a few feet, they know where they have been, how fast they have been moving and which way they are facing. When the informational and transactional capabilities of the World Wide Web are layered on to that awareness of their owners’ three-dimensional position and orientation, the handheld device can create a denser and richer world.
With the right software, the screen of a smartphone can provide a depth of detail about the surrounding environment: the addresses of the buildings, the names of the companies and people that occupy them and their contact information, their availability, and access to the services they sell – anything, in fact, that those information providers want people in the vicinity to know or be able to do.
The layers of data can include everything from the location of the nearest pizza restaurant down to wiring diagrams of the buildings, messages targeted to members of specific groups, or even graffiti. Twitter Geotagging allows users to put geographical information into their messages, giving others access to their experiences. That makes restaurant reviews fresher than the food.
The term “Internet of things” was coined some 10 years ago to anticipate a future in which every object is tagged with information, including an IP address, so that it can tracked, monitored and controlled over the Internet. Geolocation creates the “Internet of everything” because it links individuals and their smartphones to IP addresses, no matter where those individuals are. In fact, with WiFi and Bluetooth activated on their smartphones, users can be out of reach of their cellular networks and still connect with the Internet and therefore the world immediately around them.