Marauder’s Map

Where are you? That is the question o’ the day. With all of our mobile devices and wireless access…we can now find each other easily (when we want to be found), but interestingly enough, we rarely know where the other person is. And how often are you not quite sure where you are? Wouldn’t it be cool to have your very own Marauder’s Map? (Just in case you aren’t up on your Harry Potter..the Marauder’s Map is a magic map that shows the location of everyone in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry in real time).

Reality check, Goodwitch…there isn’t a real marauder’s map!
Why, I beg to differ. I’ve experienced it myself!
Do tell…

I’ve been researching location sensing with handheld computers and discovered some delicious off-the-shelf solutions. My first round of testing was with the Ekahau Position Engine which uses WiFi signal strength to sniff out your location and map you to the map. So, I’ve literally watched the motions of my teammates on my very own Ekahau/Marauders Map! Our early results have given us accuracy to within 6 inches (at best) and 22 feet (at worst). I’m looking forward to the next round of fine tuning which I hope yields accuracy of 3 feet or better. Why in the world would I want to accurately know where someone is? So, I could provide information to you (if you want it) based on your current location.

Museums Examples:

  • You are in a gallery in the museum and I can give you information on the works of art that are near you.
  • You’ve wandered off from the rest of your group and wonder where they are & vice versa.

College Campus Examples:

  • It is the first day of classes and you don’t know where your next class is.
  • You agreed to meet a friend on the west mall, but there is quite a crowd and you can’t locate them.

So, what would you like to know from your location sensitive PDA or Laptop? Would you want location based information? Do you like the idea of being able to see where someone is or allowing others to see where you are…or is it all a little too “big brother” for you?


  1. Really interesting topic. The possibilities are tremendous, but it would have to be an opt-in obviously. In the same way that when you pass you your details to a company to get more information, you get reassurances that the information will only be used for ‘x’ purpose.

    Uses that I would be interested in:
    – I find a shop/restaurant etc on yellow pages, and it gives me directions from my current location to the place I want to go to.
    – the gallery idea you mentioned – how cool would that be?!

  2. The Experience Music Project ( in Seattle has something similar– you walk around with a mobile device, and as you approach an exhibit on, say, 1970s punk, you hear the relevant music, commentary, etc.

    It’s quite amazing. The only strange thing is that everyone is walking around with headphones on, turning the museum experience from one that’s traditionally more of a shared experience to one where everyone is their own island.

    As someone who is frequently lost, I would definitley be interested in getting specific directions from where I was to where I wanted to go.

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