You could be forgiven for not knowing what geofencing is. After all, not everyone is familiar with one of the coolest tools they carry in their pockets. That’s right. If you own a smartphone, you carry a geofencing solution wherever you go. It is a tool you can do a lot of fantastic things with.
If you use your smartphone to do things like locating restaurants in your general area, you are already using geofencing without even knowing it. But wait. You can also utilize geofencing to do things automatically. Geofencing can be programmed to trigger events without you having to pull out your phone, open an app, send a text message, etc.
It all works by utilizing those same global positioning satellites (GPS) that make your car’s navigation system work. Because GPS allows your position to be tracked in relation to any other points on a virtual map, your location can also be utilized to trigger digital events. That is when geofencing truly gets exciting.
Old and New Technology
It’s ironic to consider that the technology that makes geofencing possible is both old and new. It isold in the sense that it has been around for decades. Ever since the first GPS satellite went into orbit in the late 1970s, it has been theoretically possible to track movement anywhere on the Earth.
GPS and geofencing have long been used by cattle ranchers to keep track of their animals. It has been utilized by trucking companies to keep track of their vehicles. So, what’s new about it? Integrating GPS and geofencing with smartphones. That didn’t come into play until about a decade ago.
What makes this so exciting is that you no longer have to invest thousands of dollars in expensive geofencing equipment to make use of it. If you have a smartphone in your pocket, you already have the hardware. You just need the software to take advantage of your phone’s capabilities.
Geofencing and Home Automation
The drive to make home automation mainstream has pushed manufacturers to integrate geofencing with their devices. They have done such a good job that geofencing is now a pretty strong selling point to get people interested in the home automation concept.
According to Vivint Smart Home, a home automation and security provider operating across the U.S., geofencing is one of the best ways to get the most out of a home automation product integration strategy. Integrating multiple devices within the same ecosystem enhances the abilities of each one. Tying them all together with geofencing takes integration to the next level.
In short, integrating home automation with geofencing allows you to trigger any number of home automation events based on your location. Once you have a program established, you can forget about it. It will execute according to your location in relation to your established geofencing area.
Here are just two examples:
- Unlock the Door – Someone who works the B shift might feel safer by programming her home automation system to unlock the front door as she pulls into the driveway. Even if she doesn’t get home until after midnight, she need notworry about fumbling with her keys. The front door automatically unlocks, and she steps inside.
- Turn Off the Lights – Parents can take advantage of geofencing to ensure that all the lights are turned off when no one is home. Their system is programmed to recognize when mom’s smartphone leaves the geofencing area. When that happens, a secondary command is issued to turn off every light in the house.
Any device that can be integrated into a home automation system can also be triggered by geofencing. It is really just a matter of making sure the device in question fully integrates with the system’s central hub. As long as devices can communicate across the ecosystem, they can be manipulated with geofencing.
It could be that you haven’t invested in home automation and have no plans to do so. Fine. That doesn’t mean geofencing is of no use to you. You can still use it for other things. For instance, geofencing makes it possible to set up automated reminders to keep you on task throughout the day.
Do you have to stop on the way home from work to pick up diapers? With a geofencing app capable of location-based reminders, you can program your phone to alert you as you approach the store. Two blocks away it can tell you to stop and pick up diapers. You might be able to arrange things so that the reminder plays over your car’s audio system.
Geofencing for Customized Actions
You have already read about some of the exciting things geofencing is capable of. Let us take it to the next level with customized actions. By using something known as an If This Then That (IFTTT) recipe, you can program all sorts of custom activities based solely on your location.
Maybe you keep the Bluetooth on your phone off during the day so that it doesn’t drain battery power. When you get in the car, you manually turn it on. Dispense with that old-fashioned practice and use an IFTTT recipe instead. Your recipe, programmed into a mobile app on your phone, senses when you leave your office and head to your car. Along the way, it issues the command to turn on your Bluetooth.
The possibilities are endless with IFTTT recipes. You can set up a recipe to text your kids if you don’t leave work in time to pick them up on schedule. The text can let them know you are running late. You can set up a recipe to automatically record your work hours in a calendar app and another to have your phone play a welcome home message as you walk in the front door.
Geofencing is truly a fantastic technology that far too few people utilize. And it is cheap technology, too. You already have it in your pocket. How cool is that?