The future of wireless is location-based (or location-aware) technologies. At least that's what all the companies developing the technology and services want us to think. These services work with a phone or handheld that uses GPS to know its position and the cell network, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi to communicate with the world.
The potential selling points for these services are street-level directions to services and locations, interactive "pushed" advertising, and instant locating of friends, family, and objects: "Where did I park my car?" Using these services, you'll be able to search for the nearest bookstore, push a button, and get a location with directions: "You are 500 ft. from a bookstore. Go south 100 ft. and turn left on Main Street." Pushed advertising means that service providers with track where you are and offer advertising based on your present location (think "phone spam").
For example, if I am walking down the street I might receive an advertisement that says "Today only at Wiffle-Mart, socks half price, only 100 ft. away." Now, do I need socks? Maybe I do. Do I want my phone reminding me to buy new socks? Not any more than I want my e-mail to constantly offer me weight-loss advice or beauty tips. Location-based services promise to open a whole new avenue with which junk advertisers can invade our lives
Once again, the downside is the potential misuse of the huge databases that will be created by service providers, plus the potential for a deluge of junk advertising. I'm not sure if I want corporate America knowing where I drive, that I drink too much Diet Coke, and which drive-through joints I frequently use. As these services begin to roll out, pay close attention to privacy policies and opt-out if you don't feel your privacy is adequately protected.