A new mobile service will let UK users pinpoint another person’s physical location at all times, based on the individual’s mobile phone signal.
The mapAmobile service from Carphone Warehouse is being marketed with the slogan “for your peace of mind” and positions itself as a way to keep an eye on loved ones. However, some may be slightly concerned at reading that the Web site also refers to “knowing where your loved ones or colleagues are at any time.”
Carphone Warehouse is hoping the UK public will find the service cool, not creepy, and says mapAmobile is well suited to parents, for example, who want to keep in touch with children. The company says the service should be able to find people accurately to within 50 metres, covering the major UK mobile networks of O2, Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile.
Starting at just under STG30, the service lets subscribers locate a specific mobile phone user for one year. There are then a succession of options allowing users to track further mobiles.
In recognition of the civil liberties concerns of such technology, Carphone Warehouse stresses that handset owners must consent to be tracked: the person to be located will receive a text message asking for their permission before the service commences. Subsequently, the person being tracked will also receive regular text messages to remind them they can be located.
The system works by pinpointing the unique identifier of a specific mobile and then triangulating the data between the network towers that send and receive to and from the handset. Fundamentally the system is based on the same principle that has been used by the military to pinpoint enemy transmissions since World War II.
Similar ideas are expected to be rolled out in the near future, including personal Global Positioning Services which are much more accurate and can be carried either on the person or in a moving vehicle.