Smart Phones Know Where The Party's At

Dennis Faas's picture

A tech firm is using a form of human GPS to let users know which nightspots are the most lively. Sense Networks, a newly-launched New York company, has developed a database system titled Macrosense. It brings together both the details of phone users who've installed their software, and other details, like where taxis are heading.

The idea is based on the way GPS systems analyse the speeds of thousands of different cars to build up a picture of which roads are particularly congested.

They are trying out the technology with Citysense, a free feature for smart phones such as the BlackBerry and iPhone. The service lets users see what looks like a heat map, with busy areas marked in red. It then provides links to Google and Yelp (a San Francisco nightlife guide) to show what's going on in the hot areas. (Source:

At the moment, the system only works in San Francisco, though a New York version is coming soon, with plans to add other cities.

For now the system only shows details to the nearest street. It's possible a future update will pinpoint specific buildings, though the company's CEO Greg Skibiski says this may pose privacy problems.

The idea is that eventually the system will learn the types of places you enjoy hanging out and be able to suggest similar venues both in your city and across the country.

Skibiski insists the scheme doesn't invade privacy. Users can erase their history at any time, no personal details are stored, and it's not possible to track other users. (

The scheme does seem a bit gimmicky, and it's questionable how many people will actually find it useful. But it's a good promotional tool for the technology, and if it works well it may attract interest from investors and clients who can use it for business applications.

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