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EETE FEB 2014

Precisely not there: fake GPS positioning By Julien Happich Now that leading smartphones integrate a GPS to offer all sorts of geolocation-based services, some users do consider the option to opt-out the GPS tracking feature. For privacy issues, some will not want to have GPS tags associated to every Facebook-post or Tweet they make, every snapshot taken and uploaded to the cloud, or simply they don’t want to be hassled with geolocalized adverts and SMS vouchers as they wander past hotels, restaurants or retail stores. Now, how about remaining vaguely traceable, there, but not precisely, with a level of uncertainty that you could set yourself? Well, guess who would develop such an interesting option? SinglesAroundMe is what founder and CEO Christopher Klotz calls a “Social Discovery” mobile dating app, which allows users to plot other identified singles on a geographical map around them, within a perimeter defined by users individually. One could want to look for singles within a 100km area (say if you live in the outback), while others could accept to be spotted only when within close proximity. Now that extra geolocation feature comes with a twist, since Klotz has filed for several US patents in 2013, including one last November for “Methods and Systems Related To privacy In Location Based Mobile Applications” (Serial No. 14/089,162). More simply put, the patent covers what Klotz markets as a “Position Shift” tech- nology that allows users to control their location, share it or not, or should they decide, to shift the GPS data they share from their real location, a few kilometres away. Of course, all this goes handin hand with the dating social network that Klotz has put into place, but this feature could be extended to many more applications for any smartphone user concerned with his/her privacy, especially when posting on social networks like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. “The initial idea came from the fact that SinglesAroundMe users didn’t want to be located within a room, yet they wanted to remain visible on the radar to stay in the game, so to speak” said Klotz when interviewed. “To our knowledge, nobody has come up with such a precise idea, shifting the real location data while remaining within a predefined perimeter”. Used along social network tags, that “Position Shift” technology allows users to control their location in relation to others either as a global setting on a digital device or specifically within distinct applications (for example to leave an emergency application unaffected). And the position-shift could be set differently for whole classes of relatives, friends, or work colleagues, all the metadata posted by the user being automatically managed accordingly. Since this GPSlocation shift could appeal to many social networks, Klotz who already boasts over 2 million users in 100 countries for his application could licence the technology to larger groups. “I think that our Position Shift algorithm is so valuable that large companies would want to add that to their portfolio. This could be through licensing, or through acquisition, but a Google or Apple of this world would certainly find innovative ways to integrate this technology” Klotz added. “They could provide elaborate interfaces to manage the position shift across multiple apps, yet retain accurate real-time positioning for some mapping services or advertising that could benefit the user without sharing the GPS data with others on the network” he concluded. 4 Electronic Engineering Times Europe February 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE FEB 2014
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