Lately, I've noticed a lot more buzz than ever before around location based services. The term seems to have been coined, and patents started flying heavily, sometime between 1995 and 2001. But at the time, the web, the phones, and the operator infrastructures just weren't where they needed to be to bring most of these services to life.
It looks like that is starting to change. The broad umbrella of "location based services" has been re-invented (aka web 2.0ified) as "location aware software", "mobile social software", etc.
The latest promising addition to the scene is Loopt, a service available to boost mobile subscribers (sidenote, has anyone ever actually met a boost mobile subscriber??).
Loopt is the first service I've seen that brings a lot of what a few friends and I explored and prototyped in college (and a mobile application of the same technology shortly thereafter) to life as a commercially available offering.
It looks pretty neat. Some features include:
- Show yourself and your friends on a map
- Get alerts when friends are nearby
- Send messages to friends and groups of friends
- Manage your profile and upload pictures from your phone
- Tag places and create events
From the Loopt "about" page:
Loopt was founded in June 2005 by friends from Stanford and MIT. The friends, all computer science majors in college, needed a better way to manage their devastating social lives. As such, the team used emerging mobile and web technologies to develop a new way to connect to the friends, events and places around them.
Loopt has outgrown its dorm room beginnings and now resides in its very own building in sunny Palo Alto, CA. Backed by Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates, Loopt aims to improve the way friends communicate and connect with each other and the world around them.
I'm still not certain the mobile landscape is where it needs to be in order to propel an application like this into the mainstream. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any succesful mobile application or service, relative to their non-mobile equivalents.
But, that's certain to change, and I wish Loopt the best of luck.