By Lisa Seacat DeLuca
For me, the intersection of Big Data and geolocation happened on a hot summer day in Chicago, 2006.
I was asked to fly to the Windy City for training on a new IBM product that I would soon be working with. My coworker, Larissa Wojciechowski, was new to our team but very familiar with Chicago, having grown up there and having family that still lived nearby. We decided to share a rental car to get from the airport to the hotel. On our last day of training, class ended early, so Larissa called up her parents to ask if they’d be up for catching dinner before our flight. We agreed to meet at a seafood restaurant that Larissa had never heard of.
This was before smart phones were as smart as they are today, so we were left to a good old GPS device to get us to the restaurant. As we were driving, Larissa was on the phone with her parents who kept giving us directions to where they were, saying things like, “We just passed the gas station on the corner.”
I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could ask our GPS to give us direction to her parents? If we could, we’d be able to determine their location through their mobile device location such as GPS or if their phones weren’t equipped with GPS we could use cell tower triangulation. Since the restaurant wasn’t recognized as a Point of Interest (POI) within our GPS system, why not just provide directions to where her parents were.
Even better, why not provide directions to where they were expected to be driving. That way we could head them off. Rather than follow behind them, our GPS could guess where they’re likely to be moving towards based on hundreds of data points and predictive confidence techniques such as those Watson uses and provide directions to her parents as a moving target.
Our idea was born: to come up with a way to provide turn-by-turn directions to a moving waypoint.
We researched and drafted schematics and finally submitted a patent through the IBM review process in 2006. Later that year IBM submitted it to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in January of 2011 Patent no. 7,865,300 was granted.
When it comes to patenting, ideas can pop-up from so many life experiences. Being an inventor means recognizing a problem and dreaming up the solution.