A Harry Potter-Like Clock Tracks Family Members

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In the Harry Potter novels and movies, the Weasley family has a magical clock with hands assigned to each family member that move to indicate their current location. Now, scientists have created a real-life version of this clock for use in the home. The "Whereabouts Clock," tracks family members as being in one of four locations: home, work, school, or elswhere. The clock works by using a software program that is download to the family members' mobile phones. The software uses signal information from the phones to determine everyone's location. On first use, the location information must be programmed: as a person arrives at work or school for the first time, they must press the corresponding button in the application. The software then locks in on the signal from the nearest cell tower and stores its ID. Obviously, a naughty kid could easily program the phone to think the mall is the school, so this isn't really the device to use for stealth-tracking of your kids; it's more of a fun way for busy families to keep tabs on one another. The location information is only available on the clock itself and is not able to be accessed remotely, so only people entitled to be in the home have the ability to see this private information. [For more tracking, check out Microsoft's Nagi's Babu Punyamurthula "Where Am I Project".]

The Discussion

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    This looks amazing... and seems quite understandable in how one would go about implementing it. In fact, it seems to me that it would be reasonable to create and deploy a fully software only solution for this right now... and let the specialized hardware follow later... give me a desktop app that acted as the clock or a web page that only my 'circle' had access to.

    I hope the folks in research feel the same and ship a working set of software to us in the near future... even if the UI for setting your location(s) is rudimentary and even if it is limited to certain subset of phones... I'd be interested in a heartbeat!

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