The recent (March 31st 2010) Where 2.0, the sixth in a series of conferences organised by O'Reilly, was not only a sell out but a place that people came to announce and talk about new location technologies. Of course most of the focus was on mobile location technologies using the GPS facilities that are rapidly becoming standard on phones.
The conference featured three tracks which more or less correspond to the way we think about location apps - Mobile innovations, i.e. the opportunities that the new hardware creates; Mapping for consumers, i.e. the potential for apps that show people where things are and help them use mapping data; and finally Local opportunities and models, which roughly translates to "where can I get a good pizza/beer/bargain".Of course the big new ideas are likely to fit into none of these categories but fall into the cracks between and be the product of intimate mixing with social applications.
Microsoft's Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the architect of Bing Maps presented a keynote "The Maps as an Information Ecology"
"When mapping first arrived on the web, it was all about driving directions. In the era of the mashup, we saw map tiles being used as canvas for a variety of websites devoted to data visualization and interaction. Around the same time, maps arrived in force on mobile devices, they began to include visualization at human scale, and we began to see an increase in user-generated and crowd sourced maps. At Bing, we've been evolving to meet and accelerate the trajectory of these shifts, in the process enabling a broad sweep of new applications written by anyone, using data from anywhere. The Magical Realist writer Jorge Luis Borges imagined a map that grew as large as life; in a very real sense, this is what is happening today."
It is clear that location enabled apps are only just starting to make the impact they are capable of and despite this being the 6th O'Reilly conference dedicated to the topic it is still early days.
For more information on Where 2.0, visit: http://conferences.oreilly.com/where
Bing Silverlight Control
Bing Maps API