A GPS location-shifting technology developed to protect the safety and privacy of single people on a popular social discovery app is being groomed for licensing to other app developers and phone manufacturers so users of social media can selectively appear to be someplace they’re not.
SinglesAroundMe has advanced its namesake GPS dating app with the technology, dubbed “Position-Shift,” enabling users to select an option that separates their actual location from their displayed location by a couple of miles. The shift only occurs within the app, so there’s no impact on GPS location functionality in other applications, or on emergency services that rely on GPS location.
I spoke about all of this last week with SinglesAroundMe CEO Chris Klotz, who noted that Position-Shift is currently available within the SinglesAroundMe app for Android and iPhone. He explained that rather than focusing on developing Position-Shift as a standalone app, the company aims to license the technology:
We have 100,000 people join that [SinglesAroundMe] app every month, and the user base is using Position-Shift all over the place—they love being able to displace where they are by a couple of miles in relation to other users. We test-marketed it within our own application, and realized this is big—it’s something that can be utilized by, and create a demand within, a Facebook or a LinkedIn, or what have you. We expect to license it out—we’re confident we’ll be able to control the technology through our patent. We anticipate licensing the technology to app developers to include within their apps, and to phone manufacturers themselves—Apple, Google, BlackBerry, etc. We want to emphasize the utilitarianism of it for other social media. You can imagine taking a photo and throwing it up on Instagram to share on Facebook—you may want to geo-tag it at a slightly different location for your own security reasons. We see the greatest growth in that licensing model.
I asked Klotz what future versions of the Position-Shift technology will have that this one doesn’t. His response:
Right now, we’re randomly displacing you within a couple of miles. In future versions, you’ll be able to say, “OK, displace me to the GPS location I frequent most,” and you’ll have these options, like being displaced to your office. I guess that’s one of the major ones.
That being the case, I noted that like just about every other technology that’s developed with good intentions, this one can obviously attract people who want to use it for nefarious purposes. One can easily imagine, for example, that the technology will be used by some kids to mislead their parents, and by some straying adults to mislead their significant others. I asked Klotz for his thoughts on that, and his response was a pragmatic one:
People can be worried, for whatever reason they might have, about somebody finding out where they are right now—they don’t want that to happen, and it can be for good or bad reasons. You can think of as many reasons as I can as to why someone would want to shift or hide his location. That happens in real life all the time.