Although designed with the best of intentions, tracking technology has recently garnered a bit of a bad reputation.
But what we don’t often hear is that those same hard-working tracking bots and cogs are making some more positive innovations possible.
In fact, some of the field’s most prominent current use cases are changing the world – from helping patients find their way around complex hospitals, to making sure your precious cargo doesn’t end up in a cesspit of lost shipments each year.
Here are 6 unexpected use cases for tracking technology (that won’t have you sleeping with one eye open):
1. Security in your back pocket: blocking your account on the go
Many Australians have felt the rude reality of credit card fraud and in the age of enhanced technology, the risk of fraud is at an all-time high.
Geo-fencing APIs (Application Programming Interface) can be used to create circular references on a map to detect where devices are moving and trigger notifications if they “leave” the circle.
This means tracking technology can trace your credit cards and notify you if they’re being swiped more than five metres away.
Once the technology identifies that you are not in the location in which the card is being used, it can immediately block the transaction, even when you’re on the move.
That means effectively saving your bank account from completely emptying into the hands of a fraudster.
2. Airport frenzy: helping passengers catch their flight on time
The last thing airport staff want to do is traipse around an entire airport trying to find a wheelchair or buggy for passengers when they are on tight schedules. Keeping them waiting is unlikely to go down well.
But we can make our lives a lot simpler and less stressful by using tracking technology to help locate specific objects in large public spaces, such as airports, shopping centres and stadiums.
It won’t be long before this technology is being used autonomously by the objects themselves – just last year Tokyo’s Haneda Airport was the first (of no-doubt many more) to trial self-driving wheelchairs, fuelled by smart location technology and lidar sensors.
3. Hospital help: navigating complex medical facilities
Whether you’re visiting, working in or being admitted to a hospital, finding your way back to the ward needn’t be as difficult as it often is.
Over half (54%) of Australians cite hospitals as the most confusing locations to navigate, according to HERE Technologies, to the point that they become lost or need to ask for directions.
Luckily, location technology is revolutionising the patient experience with 3D mapping and augmented reality views that provide turn-by-turn instructions around the building.
4. Last mile logistics: automating delivery experiences
Ever thrown in the towel when trying to find a vacant car park proves too frustrating? Location technologies and smart sensors are beginning to garner data from vehicles and geographies throughout the journey, detecting once a driver has left the spot and sending that information to the driver nearby, guiding the driver directly to a vacant parking space.
But it doesn’t stop there. The technology is becoming so accurate that it’s able to precisely track your arrival to allow for a seamless delivery to the boot of your car by the time you put on the handbrake.
Think of what this means for large appliance shopping, or collecting a closet from Ikea. Simply drop by the pick-up bay and have your online order in your boot before you can say “flat pack”!
5. Revisiting venue and event management
Tracking technology is making venue management a whole lot easier, no matter how remote the venue, with industry-grade maps for indoor or outdoor environments and geo-coding capabilities.
Coupled with highly accurate, energy-efficient positioning technology, and offline capabilities that enable conventional tracking devices to work longer due to superior battery management, these advancements help managers and audiences alike navigate confusing layouts.
With the capabilities to direct you to the closest car spot to your gate which is nearest to your seat, getting lost is a thing of the past.
The technology even goes further for event-goers who can track the waiting times at the bar and even the bathroom queue.
The instalment of drone technology takes the festival experience to the next level where your drinks and chips can be delivered to you and you don’t have to lose your front-row spot in the crowd.
6. Lost and found: delivering better asset tracking
In a typical year, shipping companies lose more than 1,000 containers at sea; the airline industry mishandles more than 20 million pieces of luggage; and enterprises lose billions of dollars when road freight is stolen, misplaced or routed inefficiently.
So, location technologies are helping to dramatically improve visibility and traceability, and thereby help business and cities save money and cut waste.
Not just more, but better
Advancements in location technology have not only enabled a wider number of use cases, but also increased efficiency, potential and power.
Erminio Di Paola, Head of Tracking at HERE Technologies, states that “tracking is essentially about asset management and there are many organisations which have struggled to do this properly because it has been too expensive”.
“In particular, the cost and size of batteries needed to power tracking hardware for months at a time has made it prohibitive. But with newfound smaller batteries and lower costs, tracking is a viable option today for a wide variety of scenarios.”
It’s a fine line, but when played well, these technologies have the potential to do a whole lot more good than bad.
Daniel Antonello is the Head of Sales (IoT) at HERE Technologies, Asia Pacific.