In a country where quiet efficiency and a frenetic pace manage to coexist, Japanese consumers are discovering the convenience of mobile phones that know where they are and can help you get where you want to go.
Lost in an unfamiliar part of town? Ask your phone how to get home and it will provide step-by-step walking or train directions.
Arranging a dinner party in a restaurant? Send your friends a message with the time and street address, and their phones will direct them to the right place.
They will even tell them whether it’s faster to take a train or a taxi, and calculate approximate fares.
Mobile operators, for some time, have had the technology to discern a customer’s location within a few hundred feet by identifying the closest antenna the phone used to transmit calls.
But new advances in global positioning system (GPS) satellite, the location-finding technology which allows operators to pinpoint users, are opening the door to the possibility of compelling new features and services.