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Now, phones can predict your future movements

apps Updated: Aug 20, 2012 18:25 IST

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Computer scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed an algorithm - or formula - to forecast our future movements by analysing information on mobile phones.

The team successfully predicted future locations with an error margin of just 60ft, which has fuelled fears of privacy invasions.

They compared data from one individual and their closest social network to predict a person’s future location based on places and areas visited in the past and the frequency of contact between those studied, according to The Sunday Times.

The study used mobile phone data from a group of 200 people living in the vicinity of Lausanne in Switzerland.

“Information extracted from the usage of a mobile phone is an intriguing source of data about people behaviour,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr. Mirco Musolesi, who led the study, as saying.

He said that the formula may not reflect the general population and would be more accurate in cities where people’s moves tend to be synchronised.

Although it will be of great help to marketing companies and possibly law enforcements, privacy groups such as Big Brother Watch fear it will invade privacy.

“This development highlights huge privacy concerns,” said Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch told the Sunday Times.

Musolesi plans to release the algorithm as an API (application programming interface), which would open up commercial possibilities for app-wizards and mobile phone service providers.

The team also expressed hopes that their algorithm could be used by the police force in prediction of the future location of criminal events.