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New tech can tell exactly where you will be in future

New York, Jul 18, 2013, (PTI): 23:51 IST
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Do you know precisely where you'll be 285 days from now at 2 pm?

Researchers have developed a new tracking software that can tell you exactly where you will be on a precise time and date years into the future.

Adam Sadilek, formerly of Microsoft, and John Krumm, a principal researcher at Microsoft used information from a pool of 300 volunteers in the Seattle metro area, Sadilek and Krumm and gathered a mountain of location data.

As the volunteers went about their daily lives - going to work, to the grocery store, out for a jog, even for transcontinental travel - each carried a GPS device much the same way they carried a cell phone, Fast Company Magazine reported.

The researchers also installed GPS devices in commercial shuttles and transit vans that the volunteers used regularly, and the volunteers' own vehicles, to further ensure accuracy.

After collecting over 150 million location points, the researchers then had Far Out, the first system of its kind to predict long-term human mobility in a unified way, parse the data. Far Out does not need to be told exactly what to look for - it automatically discovered regularities in the data.

"For example, it might notice that Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually about the same and fairly consistent from week to week," the researchers said.

"Then when we ask about a future Tuesday or Thursday, the algorithm automatically produces a typical Tuesday/Thursday as a prediction," they said.

Salidek and Krumm were surprised with the results as it turned out that no matter how spontaneous we think we are, humans are actually quite predictable in their movements, even over extended periods of time.

Not only did Far Out predict with high accuracy the correct location of a wide variety of individuals, but it did so even years into the future.

Researchers said if there is a sharp transition, such as a move to another city, the system notices there is a discrepancy between its predictions and actual data and adapts to the new patterns.

"Most people have only a few 'revolutionary' changes in the course of their lives, so Far Out isn't caught off guard too often," said researchers.

Researchers hope that it can be applied to larger populations. This could be a boon to urban planners by leading to more accurate predictions about the spread of disease, traffic congestion, and the demand for electricity.

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