With Windows 7, Microsoft introduced the Windows Sensor and Location platform, which theoretically enables your computer to adapt to its current environment through location-aware applications. Even if your computer does not contain a GPS chip, its current location can be determined in a number of ways, including IP lookup, WiFi triangulation, and cell tower triangulation.
Geosense is a sensor that can use this technology and feed the data into location-aware applications.
Setting Up Geosense
After installing the sensor, you need to enable Geosense. Go to your > Windows Start menu, search for > location, and select > Location and Other Sensors from the results listed under > Control Panel.
Check the box next to > Geosense Location Sensor and click > Apply to enable Geosense.
To view more information about the Geosense Location Sensor, change its description, change who can access the sensor, and to uninstall Geosense, click on > Geosense Location Sensor.
Now that the sensor is enabled, you can use it with location-aware applications.
To demonstrate the functionality of Geosense, its developers have created a Google Maps demo client, which you can download from the Geosense homepage or through this link (ZIP file). The app reveals your current location on a Google map and allows you to quickly locate facilities in your area.
In my tests, the accuracy was so good that the street address displayed in the Google Maps sidebar diverted only by meters, i.e. it calculated that I was sitting in the house next door.
This location-sensing Google Maps client can be very useful for travelers. When stranded in a foreign city, not knowing your current street address, all you have to do is connect to the Internet, launch the client, and it will tell you right where you are. You can then use the Google Maps > Search nearby feature to look for restaurants, bars, or other public facilities in the area.
We have written many interesting articles about Google Maps, check out some of them here:
- How Does Google Maps Work? [Technology Explained]
- 5 Tips To Perform A Smarter & Faster Google Map Search
- 10 Impressive Spots On Earth You Can See With Google Maps Satellite View
- 3 Awesome Historical Google Maps Mashups
- How to Use Google Maps for Your Business
- How To Create Shared Collaborative Google Maps
The Windows 7 Weather gadget for your desktop is a location-aware application. To add it to your desktop, search for > gadget in your Windows Start menu and select > Desktop Gadget Gallery from the results under > Programs.
When the Gadget Gallery has opened, double-click the > Weather gadget and it will load on your desktop.
If it works, you will see a blue WiFi signal next to your location, which indicates that your location is detected. If it does not work, this little icon will be marked with a red cross and it will probably display the default city, which is Seattle, Washington.
More cool Windows 7 desktop gadgets can be found in these articles:
- Top 7 Coolest Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets You Have To Use
- The 7 Best Windows 7 Gadgets
- 7 MORE Windows 7 Gadgets To Make Your Life Easier
- 7 Must-Have Google Desktop Gadgets for Productivity
Another application that supports Geosense is MahTweets, a social network client for Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare, including multiple accounts for each. Since its release in early March 2011, however, not much has happened and it seems like it has not been developed further. Therefore I will not explore this application further.
Unfortunately, although the Windows Sensor and Location platform and the relevant technology have been around for several years, there are very few location-aware applications for Windows 7. Geosense hopes to “kickstart a pool of cool location-based or location-enhanced applications on Windows 7.” Until further applications are available, the tool remains a fun demonstration of how accurate free location sensing technologies are these days.
If you are concerned about your privacy and don’t want to share your location under any circumstances, be sure to check out this article: How To Disable Or Fake Your Location In Firefox, Internet Explorer & Chrome.
What do you think of this technology? Do you use location sensing on your mobile devices and would you like to see more location-aware applications for Windows? Or does this kind of thing scare you with its privacy implications?
Image credits: Tobias Machhaus