The Feature has an article about location based services being deployed and experimented with today. It includes a pointer to an article in The Guardian with information about Urban Tapestries and Near Field Communication. I had heard that NFC was a combined project to form an open platform for location based services, but I didn’t know much detail. This is from the article in The Guardian:

Philips and Sony say: “NFC can be used for quickly establishing other types of wireless communication between devices, acting as a virtual connector. By bringing two devices into close vicinity, it can invisibly configure and initialise other wireless protocols such as Bluetooth and 802.11 (eg Wi-Fi), enabling devices to communicate at longer ranges or transfer data at higher rates. In an environment rich with wireless-enabled devices, it’s the easy way to set up connections without needing to go through complicated menus.”

Interesting, I had never heard it described that way. I wonder if that’s really the main direction the forum is looking at. I know the the RFID people are considering using either EPC or IPV6 as their lookup system. I wonder how this would fit into that scheme in general. Complementary? Opposing? I think location based services kick ass, and I think they would provide a lot of value to end users and generate some really innovative applications in general. But I’m very concerned that the underlying technologies don’t seem to cary the level of openness I would like to see. In order to see location based services take off, it’s not going to be enough to provide a few standards that telcom providers can roll out when they see fit. Most telcom providers will never see fit unless there’s immediate money to be made. What’s needed is a completely open platform which can be deployed despite and around other major impediments, without any infrastructure changes. That’s the impression I got from the NFC site, that it’s the kind of tech that could be deployed now. Handsets would need some extra functions, servers would need to be made available. But it’s not the type of thing that would require replacing or reprogramming service side equiptment. For instance I remember a lot of talk about the Enhanced 911 service for cell phones leading to location based services.. but as far I know know it’s either difficult of impossible to get that information from providers. It’s my hope the NFC will provide a way to avoid those kinds of issues.