Facebook has filed new patents that promise to “guess” users’ locations. One of the patents titled “Offline Trajectories,” proposes predicting users’ “location trajectories” based on data from last location where the person logged into the network.
As described in the patent application, this feature would use machine learning to analyze metadata associated with users who already found themselves in whatever geographic location that you’re heading toward.
For example, in case the user is on his lunch break at work, like his company colleagues, Facebook would make a calculation of the likelihood that the person will go there and in case the application is right, it would show ads referring to the places of the region, including said restaurant.
If you’re headed into an internet dead zone where Facebook can’t make any money off of you, Facebook could use its predictions to give itself a heads-up about the dire drop-off and make sure it prefills what otherwise would have been your content time-out.
The other patent has a longer title – “Predicting Locations and Movements of Users Based on Historical Locations for Users of an Online System” The patent application says that those location chains could be used for applications such as “advertising to users based on locations and for providing insights into the movements of users.” It could even differentiate movement trends among those people who live in a city and those who are merely visiting that city.
Yet another of its patents, titled “Location Prediction Using Wireless Signals on Online Social Networks,” – uses NFC (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G) signals to survey a full spectrum of audiences and determine behaviors and actions before, during and after they are made. For example, if a group of people that are close the user decides to have a coffee after lunch, Facebook can make a prediction that the user too will do the same, and that he will be doing so because he has finished his lunch.
As with all patent applications, there’s no guarantee that this particular one will be used by the company.