GPS…Useful or Marketing Gimmick?

We've been shipping GPS as an optional capability on our ThinkPad X300 notebooks for several months now. But what's it good for? What's the killer app? There is, of course, the obvious. You can use it with popular programs like Yahoo Maps and Google Earth and find your way across town or across the country. While I've tried this, I personally find it lacking. It works okay, and it is certainly better than paying a car rental company $8/day. But the downside of trying to balance a notebook on a narrow dashboard (so it gets a clear view of the sky) whilst managing power cables and AC/DC adapters is not exactly an exercise in elegance. Much less so if you happen to have a spinning HDD and are worried about a crash. A dedicated direction finding device by Garmin et al does a much better job and is much easier to manage. The requirement for a clear view of the sky has been a major drawback for GPS units since its inception and is a primary limitation for notebook use particularly, since most are used indoors. One of the ways that has been developed as a way around this is called "assisted GPS." Assisted GPS uses GPS satellites in conjunction with cellular phone towers to provide more accurate location information. Much more importantly, it allows GPS to work indoors away from a window. This capability opens up much more possibilities for the usefulness of GPS in future applications. Consider first, the security implications. Imagine a notebook equipped with a GPS receiver that works only inside the Pentagon. It knows where it is, knows that it is in safe territory, and therefore allows itself to be fully functional. Once it moves outside the front gate, it immediately locks itself down (or "bricks" itself in commonly used industry terms). The device is rendered useless to thieves and any state secrets are safely kept that way. For non sleuths, you can start to tie this together with networking. Imagine Lenovo tying this capability to network switching and configuration software (like our Access Connections) to further improve usability. When you were in your home or at work, not only would it open up file and internet sharing, but it would also know which devices are in the vicinity so that it could operate with them correctly. Yes, we can set default printers by profile in Access Connections today, but imagine a world where your PC knows automatically which devices it has to work with and you don't have to see the print dialogue box at all ever again. It's useful for making the process that much more automatic and worry free. Secretaries everywhere would know where on the campus their executives were located. (They're going to have their PCs, right?) This would solve the eternal problem of "Where's Sam? Get him in here NOW!!" Firefighters, police officers, insurance adjusters and even casual hobbyists could use GPS capability to automate geotagging of their photos. Yes, there are cameras with GPS capabilities built in, but until we are all carrying one, imagine taking your photos, and then upon loading them into the laptop you have with you, they are automatically tagged with location information based on a synchronized clock between your camera and PC. This would also extend to foresters and those in the field using programs like ARCView. Today they have to manually enter GPS coordinates in order to perform their map analysis. Despite all of this, I'm still searching for the elusive killer app for GPS on a notebook PC. Ideas anyone?