Eliminating Minor Stress Factors of Everyday Life Using a GPS-based Alarm

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This article can be read in about 11 minute.

Overview
  • This is a [mobile] application using GPS data that was developed when the first generation smart phones were released.
  • It sets off an alarm at specified locations to help users remember tasks.
  • There is a high hope of this application, thanks to affinity with wearable devices.

Today, GPS application services are embedded in our lives. These are not just the map apps. Many of the apps we use to navigate cities, such as transportation transfer guides and restaurant and bar reviews, provide services based on location information from satellites. Would we have imagined the world as we know it today ten years ago when smartphones first started appearing? Modern life now is quite a step ahead of what we had imagined then.

Some of the ideas and services from those early days can deliver a new impact again today. A mobile application service "GPS-R" offered by NID-MI is one of them. GPS-R gives users reminders for tasks upon arrival to pre-specified locations by adding GPS information to the reminder function. It is an app that can help us remember to post mail and perform various daily tasks. This service has a lot of promise for combined application with wearables. Here is what we learned in our interview with NID-MI about the service from its development phase to where it is today.

NID-MI is a solution-oriented system construction company primarily targeting businesses. When the company started developing the app in 2008, the members first got together to discuss their daily struggles. Forgetting to buy something or posting mail were some of those problems that could not be addressed by simple to-do lists or reminders. The concept of GPS-R was conceived to resolve this issue.

Since it was shortly after the first smartphones were released, the idea of a service utilizing location information was new and had a strong impact. After the service was released, an introductory video was published on YouTube, and the service was also covered on national television and the number of users reached 200,000. The service also supports other languages besides Japanese for the large user-base overseas. After upgrades for newer versions of OS and improvements in location data accuracy, the service remains in use today.

In the course of seven years from the release of GPS-R, other services have been derived from the original concept. There is a series of such services especially created for participants in marathons overseas which includes "GPS-R for NYC Marathon" and similar services for Chicago, Honolulu, Berlin, and other marathons that provide runners with their location information and distance from the start point.

Another example is an application called "Kokodayo [I'm here]" that is based on GPS-R's notification service. It sends a message automatically to a specified person when the user passes a pre-marked location on the map. It is widely used by parents who set up their children's phones to send their locations as they make their way home, and by drivers to tell their family their location while driving.

To continue to be useful, the GPS-R itself has had feature enhancements with add-ons since its initial release, including features to prevent missing a stop while traveling by public transportation.

The GPS-R service emerged because users carry devices that provide location data. Now that wearable devices are rising in popularity, the service's affinity with such devices has considerable potential as well. For example, when you are walking down the street and pass a pre-designated location, your wristwatch-type device could send a push notification. This may be a popular new user experience.

When technology changes our lifestyle, its effects and changes naturally result in the emergence of new services. Of these services, the ones focusing on users' pain points may become breakthroughs.

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