Google software allows friends to share location

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    Do you ever get the feeling you are being followed? With new advances in technology and tracking devices, you very well may be.

    Google launched Latitude last month, which uses laptop and cell phone data to show one’s location to friends.

    Sam Altman, a Stanford University student, developed a company called Loopt in 2006. Similar to Latitude, it also provides location to friends and is now available for varying cell phones.

    Norman Sadeh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., said he decided to invent his own tracking device that provides users a chance to choose friends who are able to see them and at what time. Latitude and Loopt require users to deselect other users who don’t want to see their locations, whereas users with Sadeh’s device select the people they want to see their whereabouts.

    Sadeh’s device is called Locaccino, and it is mainly used on laptops. Within weeks however, the application will be available for cell phones, he said.

    After much research, Sadeh said the largest problem people have with tracking services is privacy.

    Sadeh said it’s not the case with his tracking device.

    Locaccino is location-based, which means students are able to decide where they want to be located, he said.

    “What the people have are preferences that are linked to where they are,” Sadeh said. “For instance, when they are on campus, they are willing to share their location and when they are off campus, they don’t.”

    Locaccino gives users options as to when they want to be tracked, on what days and at what time, Sadeh said.

    “There is actually a security element to being able to show your location to some people,” Sadeh said.

    The tracking device can be useful in both social and serious scenarios, Sadeh said. If a person is going to some remote location, it would be useful to let some people know where they are, in case something goes wrong and they would need to be rescued, he said.

    There are two different ways that a person can use this application. One is to allow others to see where you are located, Sadeh said. This can be done by downloading the application to your computer or cell phone, which is called the locator client. After downloading, you can go to Facebook and configure the settings that specify who will be allowed to see your location, he said.

    “If no rules are set, by default, no one can see where you are,” Sadeh said.

    Carrie White, a junior interior design major, said her parents don’t know where she is most of the time, so it shouldn’t be necessary for her professors to.