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Geode extension adds location awareness to Firefox


While Firefox 3.1 will include geo-location support, that version of the browser is still in beta. Until then, you can use the Geode concept extension to your current Firefox 3 software and experience some of location-awareness benefits on your notebook. Geode works with Skyhook’s database of WiFi locations and triangulates your general area based on the WiFi networks your device can see.

There’s certainly a privacy factor here and for some people that will be understandably difficult to overcome. Your IP info and location are sent to Skyhook, but the company doesn’t store personalized info; instead, they keep it in anonymous aggregates to build their database.

When I installed the extension and tried the demo app, Firefox asked me if I wanted to provide my exact location (within 10 feet), neighborhood (within 1 mile) or nothing at all. I think these are reasonable options because you can opt-out as needed or you can take advantage of the location service if you choose to. Currently, there’s only a demo application and support from just a few other sites like Pownce and Yahoo! Fire Eagle, although I expect we’ll see  many more sites enabled for this function very soon. 

Ideally, the more locally targeted I can find information when I’m out, the quicker it can be to find what I’m looking for that’s nearby. GPS might be the preferred method for many, but WiFi triangulation doesn’t require an additional radio (nor precious power for that radio), plus it leverages hardware I already have.

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