29 Comments

Summary:

Placeme for iOS and Android may be both the scariest and amazingly futuristic app I’ve seen yet. The free software uses every sensor in your handset to track your activities, location and environment. Scary, yes, but it could power the smartphone personal assistant of the future.

placeme-featured

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, built by Alohar Mobile, 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 Alohar Mobile’s 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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  1. John S. Wilson Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Nightmare waiting to happen. Data isn’t shared…yet.

  2. marlowwebmedia Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Reblogged this on MobileTechStocks.com and commented:
    The future is now!

  3. marlowwebmedia Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Reblogged this on Marlow Web Media.

  4. Jonathan Marks Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    scary as hell if it were on a personal cellphone. But could be rather useful for investigative journalists working in difficult locations. The last day of data could be sent to a trusted friend by pressing a panic button (kidnapped/arrested). Or emergency services tracking what they did during a natural disaster. lessons learned when rebuilding …

    1. “if it were on a personal cellphone” ? It is on every cell phone. everything that was mentioned about the app is possible using different applications which come with your phone: GPS, Compass, Accelerometer, etc… The only difference here is that it’s all shown in one place.

  5. Welcome Placeme to a future we’ve been living in a while with our enterprise focused LBS app. While we agree mobile device sensor data harvesting is indeed the future, the question is how can you add value to the user? We think we’re on to something by combining Checkins with CRM. Looking forward to seeing what innovations Placeme brings.

  6. Good stuff. Glad to hear that this is finally here for Android and iOS devices. Been playing with similar (but not as far collecting) software on my Nokias for a while now and its a mixed bag. I like what’s possible when its able to present the device to me in a manner that makes it ready to use w/o much else than turning the screen on out of standby. I don’t like the idea that it *could* be shared or compromised.

    Now, this is more journal than anything else (anyone remember the journal feature of MS Outlook; was actually not a bad thing). Until I can see what’s in the video, I’m not sure that it changes the state of the device – which is where that data is most helpful to the user. After that point, the future does open up – the idea of an application shell, or even a UI, begins to fall away and what you do rises to the surface.

  7. Thanks Kevin for the article.
    Could you make one minor correction: our company name is Alohar Mobile. Placeme is one app made by us. We are building a SDK for iPhone and Android, so that other developers can build persistent apps like smart personal assistant, mobile health/medical app, mobile games, etc. Thanks.

    1. Sam- you’ll know if I’m driving by my speed etc. Will that data be viewable by the user like the places are? Ie, the way Google My Tracks does, recording speed data etc X metres or feet, if the user wants?

    2. Sorry about the inadvertent mistake, Sam. Just corrected the article to reflect your company’s name. BTW: I installed the app yesterday afternoon so I’m surprised you didn’t ask how my dinner at Olive Garden was last night – kidding! ;)

      1. Thanks Kevin! I love Olive Garden!
        Thanks to you and Robert Scoble, our server is inundated with flood of new users. Sorry for any server delay yesterday and earlier today. We are scrambling to add more server capacity to keep the service running. It should be back to normal now.
        Follow @alohar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/alohar

  8. This is freakishly good. I was hoping something like this would be built that would track ALL of my whereabouts, but also keep my data private. Prior to using this, I was using MyTracks, but it seemed like a half-baked idea that wasn’t going to go anywhere. Hopefully there will be a business model that makes sense because this is something I’d pay for to log my location data, rather than the cumbersome “checking-in” model popularized by Foursquare. However, would be cool to be able to share certain days or timeblocks in terms of your whereabouts.

  9. Sam, Great app and concept! Would you consider adding a secure login screen to the app? Given the nature of the data, it seems one additional layer of security would be prudent.

    1. Jab, Thanks for the compliment. We do use SSL to communicate with the server. What kind of secure login screen are you suggesting? Please send your thought to placeme@alohar.com. Thanks.

  10. You couldnt PAY me to use this app! A train wreck waiting to happen.

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