PILO – a smarter location based service

Do you have a pathological desire to “check in” to the restaurants, pubs or public buildings you visit? Don’t you ever ask yourself WHY you do this? Some people say it’s territorial pissing, others that it helps you meet people you otherwise would never have met. Nevertheless, location based services (LBSs) of today aren’t very smart when it comes to filtering information.

Interaction design students Axel Jacobson, David Christensson and Ivar Boson have developed a prototype for a location based service that is a lot smarter than the ones you’re currently using. Meet PILO, the app that makes decisions by tracking a user’s movement pattern.

Note: PILO has been awarded 200.000 SEK by innovation centre Mobile Heights and will be developed further this fall. Read more about that here.

With smartphones becoming increasingly more common, location based services are becoming more prevalent on the mobile application market. However, the amount of data we are being bombarded with is becoming increasingly hard to grasp, and it is often not relevant for us at the time we are exposed to it. We wanted to find a way to present user generated information to the user when it is relevant to them. Our thesis is based on the assumption that people are more willing to receive location based information if it is filtered by a set of rules. The rules that we state are based on patterns of user movement and the inherent trust in one’s social network and are as follows: information within reach of the pattern is of greater interest, information within a geographical user-highlighted area is of greater interest, information generated by one’s trusted social network is of greater interest and, if one of the above points are true, more recently added information has higher relevance.

PILO is a social location based service that differs from existing ones by filtering information based on user movement patterns and focuses on geospatial information shared among people in a trusted social network. The application was created and used in an attempt to employ research-through-design as a method to prove three related hypotheses concerning movement patterns as a filtering method, social networks as a filtering method and points of interest. A user test took place during seven days with a set of three participants in an attempt to test whether the hypotheses could be proven. The paper describes the methods used, the application developed, the process and an evaluation of the concept.

View or download the paper PILO – Synchronous and Asynchronous Location Awareness in Location Based Services.

Update 29 July 2010 – PILO was covered on Canvas8, a premium research service that gathers knowledge on the topics of technology, consumer behavior and trends. The article, PILO: location, filters and relevance, is available only to premium members.