Location-Aware Wi-Fi Could Send You Free Beer at a Football Game

Potential buzzkill alert: you're at a concert, and your section runs out of beer. But magically, your phone gets a message that says you should head one section over where there's plenty of Buds to be had. Thanks to a developing Wi-Fi tech that knows exactly where you're sitting, that might soon be a reality.

Developed by UK start-up Mobbra, the system is called location-aware Wi-Fi. Called Massivity, the system works by way of Wi-Fi connection points that can handle up to 500 phones at once, as well as an app on your Android or iPhone called Fangage that tweaks your connection settings. It could send you deals for your particular section of the football stadium, for example. Or it could beam you an instant replay or premium video. It could even use the LED flash of every phone in the stadium to create a massive, glittering wave. Apparently, in a test on two access points, the company was able to make 1,000 Samsung phones play the same video, vibrate, and light up all at the same time.

Now, Mobbra isn't the only one toying with this kind of technology. Similarly, Google is working on Project Tango, an Android phone that maps your every move. And in the Netherlands, we have Philips Research Eindhoven, a company that is cooking up a system that sends data to an app via store's LED lighting system, in order to direct shoppers towards deals and whatnot. Mobbra's tech does something similar, but it does it through Wi-Fi connections.

There are obvious security implications with location-aware Wi-Fi. It's sort of a scary thought that some unseen hand can control your phone from a hidden location in the stadium like some futuristic Wizard of Oz. We'd hope Mobbra will address these concerns before the tech is actually deployed.

But those concerns aside, if it actually works, it could be pretty cool. Say you're at a concert and you don't know what song the artist is playing, and suddenly your phone buzzes with a video that identifies it as a Fleetwood Mac track. Or even, during a deep cut, everyone's phone magically sparks up like little digital lighters to wave along in the air because most stadiums from upon open flames these days. It might border on cheesy, and it's certainly gimmicky, but that's a pretty neat version of the future. [New Scientist]

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