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From PARC, the mobile phone as tour guide
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 28 September 2007 11:32

 Far from home? Time on your hands? Phone home and get a new itenerary!

 From PARC, the mobile phone as tour guide
By Elinor Mills
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: September 28, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT
reporter's notebook PALO ALTO, Calif.--Imagine you find yourself in a city you don't know very well.
Maybe you are on vacation, or on business travel, or just exploring an area of your own city you aren't familiar with. It's a sunny afternoon and you think to yourself, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a gelato?" Or a little later in the day, you find yourself hankering for a margarita, but you don't know where to get one.

Today, most people wandering foreign streets in search of something ask someone passing by. If you have a particular store in mind and your mobile phone is Web data-enabled, you can use the Internet and an online map. But if you don't know exactly what you want, there's no real guide.

Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC--the Xerox subsidiary that was the birthplace of the computer mouse, the graphical user interface and Ethernet--has developed a mobile application that offers up information that would be useful to a wanderer--things like shops, restaurants and event listings based on your location (via the GPS device in the phone) and the time of day, as well as your preferences and past behavior.

The leisure city guide system will be commercialized by Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) in Japan, with trials scheduled to start in the spring and general availability in that country in spring 2009. There's no word on whether the principals plan to bring it to the U.S.

I got a demonstration of the software, code-named "Magitti," at a press event here on Thursday, and I must say it looks very cool. (The code name is derived from two early design concepts, a magic scope and a digital graffiti system.)

"It predicts the likely activity," said Bo Begole, a co-leader on the project. For example, coffee shops might be displayed in the morning hours, stores throughout the day, and restaurants, bars and movies at night.

The more you interact with it--showing preference for things and rating them--the more it learns about your personal tastes, and its suggestions reflect that. It uses collaborative filtering to recommend things that others with similar tastes like and allows people to input their own ratings and reviews.

The system also can detect clues to your activities in e-mails and text messages. That may sound creepy to some people, but is it any more creepy than the prospect of getting ads served up based on the context of your e-mails a la Gmail? What about getting ads on your phone based on your location, or even based on conversations you've had, which start-up Pudding Media will be doing?... More           Comments in the Forums
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