The software that knows what we’re doing next

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iol scitehc july 24 phone app REUTERS Giving the thundering growth of cellphone usage in South Africa, it is not surprising that mobile health apps are taking off.

London - From telling us when our train is coming, helping us when we’re lost and letting us watch our favourite TV shows, there seems no limit to how involved our smartphone is with our day-to-day life.

Now the gadget promises something so advanced it verges on the supernatural: it will know exactly what we’re doing tomorrow.

Researchers are developing phone software that will be able to predict our future and even tell us where we will be at specific times.

While mobile phone networks can already track where a handset is in “real time”, scientists at Birmingham University have developed an algorithm – or formula – to forecast our future movements.

Using information from an individual’s phone and those of their friends, the algorithm can build a lifestyle profile and then make predictions. The method is remarkably accurate. The scientists – Mirco Musolesi, Manlio Domenico, and Antonio Lima – could predict the location of 39 volunteers for the next day to within 100 yards.

The software even adjusts for anomalies – such as a user changing their plans at the last minute – by factoring in patterns of their friends or regular phone contacts.

Mr Musolesi, a computer science lecturer, said it could be used to suggest places or events in areas where users are expected to be. “It could be useful for marketing and also for local councils,” he said.

The technology is already being criticised by privacy campaigners. Emma Carr, of Big Brother Watch, said there were “huge concerns”.

Mr Musolesi said: “We understand there are big problems with privacy. We need to learn about the limits and legal framework.” - Daily Mail

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