Every night, or so, Long Zheng logs onto his PC and bombards me with ideas. Most of his ideas fail to root on my end but one looked promising: A ‘software GPS-like thingie’, plugged into the Windows Sensors and Location Platform. After a crash course through the User Mode Driver Framework, and a few days of enduring Long’s “is it ready yet?”, Geosense for Windows was born.
Geosense is a Windows Sensor that feeds the Windows Sensors and Location Platform relatively accurate positioning information, a lot like a GPS device. Instead of communicating with expensive satellites, we simply gather some metrics (i.e. your IP address, WiFi access points) to securely query huge databases with. In return, the databases provide location data for us to share.
Right now, Geosense plugs into Google Location Services for WiFi and IP triangulation. If the sensor becomes an overnight sensation, we’ll add support for others such as Skyhook Wireless and Navizon, to ensure you receive the most accurate data, regardless of where it came from. We’re also thinking about the implementation of mobile broadband (cell tower) detection – but that’s low on the list, due to lack of supportive hardware. (Anyone want to donate some hardware?)
So what can you do with Geosense? Sadly, the Windows Sensor ecosystem is thin, likely due to the learning curve associated with writing drivers. You’re limited to the Weather Gadget (in Windows) and… well that’s about it. As you read this, though, we’re cooking up new and innovative ways to use the sensor – stay tuned.
Call to action: Think of how location-awareness in Windows could help a friend or family member. Download Geosense and sling some code. If you’re not the coding type, share your idea – you never know, we (or others) may bring it to fruition.