NEW YORK – Many smartphone applications already keep track of where users are. Review apps, for example, can locate people and suggest nearby restaurants. Now, AT&T researcher Gerald Karam wants to hook that location capability to a text messaging or email system. He demonstrated his idea at "Living the Networked Life," a research fair AT&T held for reporters April 19 in the company's downtown skyscraper.
The in-development app, called Donde, will have at least three settings. In one, senders can specify where they want recipients to be when Donde delivers their messages. People can have "Meet me when you get to the office" ping a co-worker when he arrives in the building, or send "Pick up milk" to a spouse when she's in the grocery store.
Of course, recipients won't always go where senders expect them to. For example, a husband might skip work in the morning to pick up supplies for his wife's surprise birthday party, missing a message pegged to his office. So Donde always lets recipients see and reply to their messages, no matter where they are, but a pop-up brings the right messages to their attention when they're in the right place, Karam explained.
Donde can also passively send alerts when it senses its user entering or leaving some place. For example, parents may like messages when their kids arrive at and leave home and school, Karam said.
Lastly, Donde will have a continuous tracking function that people can turn on briefly when they're searching for each other at a crowded meeting place.
In the next two or three months, Karam will test Donde with about 1,000 people, he said. What he wants to check most is whether "people feel the application is doing natural things for them, solving natural problems," he said.
For the trial, there will be Android and iPhone versions of Donde, but Karam wouldn’t comment on where AT&T would offer Donde's services in the future. "What AT&T decides to do after [the trial] is a future business plan that we have not publicly disclosed," he wrote in an email to InnovationNewsDaily after the research fair.