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MIT's iFind Service


Location awareness augments other collaboration tools to let workers or friends find one another, communicate, and work or play together. Its usefulness to students seems obvious, but for corporate workers who may already have many collaboration tools, its ability to increase productivity must be proven.

Products like MIT's iFind should become more useful as Wi-Fi networks become ubiquitous; at this point, no university appears to have this kind of location-awareness service. Related to location awareness, new collaboration and presence products from Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks are just beginning to reach the market. The most frequent use of these new products is in health care, where they are used to track people and assets.

IFind could be a big success at MIT and may be implemented by other universities. In the commercial market, when it is used to augment other presence-based tools, location awareness could greatly enhance collaborative tasks.

In the past decade, various developments have led to the ability to combine location awareness, network-based collaboration and social networking into a single tool. MIT's new service for students, iFind, is the first notable example of this integration.

Developed at MIT's Senseable City Lab, the Wi-Fi-based iFind provides a novel way to let groups of people find one another, set up meeting times or work together. Although ideal for a campus environment, it isn't restricted to academia. And it's available under an open-source license rather than embedded in a vendor solution.

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