Placeme for iOS and Android may be both the scariest and amazingly futuristic smartphone app I’ve seen yet. The free software uses every sensor in your handset to track your activities, location and environment. There’s no checking in or other action you need to take; Placeme simply records everything in the background. And that creates the fullest set of personalized data I can think of: Placeme is a complete personal tracking solution.
Robert Scoble recently posted this 32-minute video with Placeme’s founder, Sam Liang, to get a complete description of the app. I recommend watching the entire conversation, but if you skip to the 2:40 mark, you’ll see Liang show you where he’s been and what he’s done for the past day, as captured automatically by Placeme.
Obviously, the scary part is that the app essentially learns everything about you: Where you shop, your route to work, who you visit, etc. Liang says the data isn’t shared or broadcast and that it’s encrypted. Without question, this may be the most pervasive type of mobile software to date. But I’m inclined to agree with Scoble when he says this is the future. Whether we like it or not, the world is fundamentally changing due to the Internet and our ability to share information seamlessly.
If you can get past this change there’s the potential for a world of useful information. Liang mentions that the app could check your route home from work in advance to check for traffic. Or perhaps it can alert you that another gas station nearby has cheaper gas than the station you just pulled into. When the phone has this type of history, it can truly be a smart personal assistant.
Will people be willing to give up privacy for this type of help? Over time, I think so; especially with the younger generation that is growing up with smartphones, tablets and location-based apps. Like Scoble, I’m a sucker for anything that brings the future closer to me today, so I’ve installed Placeme for now to see exactly what my phone can learn about me. After all, the future is inevitable.
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