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Google aims to track users with wi-fi

Google aims to be able to track its users to within 100-200 feet of their location through new wireless networks in order to serve them with relevant advertising from local businesses.

The leading internet search company, which depends on advertising for 99 per cent of its revenues, was selected on Wednesday by San Francisco as its preferred bidder to provide a basic free wi-fi internet service covering the entire city.

The company hopes to defray the costs of offering a free service through contextual advertising. Analysts have speculated that the San Francisco bid could be a prelude to Google seeking to extend its reach into localities nationwide.

It is already planning a free wi-fi network by the summer covering the city of Mountain View, where its headquarters is based, and the San Francisco service may be up and running by the end of the year.

Google says users linking up with wi-fi transmitters placed around cities can be located to within a couple of blocks. This would open up a new level of advertising opportunities for the company, allowing it to serve tightly focused ads on its web pages from small businesses in the immediate area.

The bid to blanket-cover San Francisco with cheap internet access is part of a broader move towards municipal wireless networks by big US cities.

Philadelphia became the first major US city to begin construction of a citywide wireless network when it signed a deal with Earthlink earlier this year.

Other big cities such as Chicago, Boston and Austin have announced their own wireless network plans.

Well, this is pretty much exactly what I expected to see. I think it's a pretty straight shot to see how having millions of users wearing see-through head-up displays connected to these wi-fi networks would enable an absolutely huge new revenue stream for Google. They are moving to creating pervasive high-speed mobile access to the internet.

There still needs to be the transformation on the personal device side in order for their investments to pay off. You send targeted ads to somebody's cell phone or laptop while they're walking around and it's pretty much ignored. We need computing devices that are always on, used in the pursuit of our daily activities, and that we can interact with AT THE SAME TIME that we interact with our environment.

I've said it before, the world needs Microvision displays...now more than ever.

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