… Except it has nothing to do with Batman or sonar. OK, so the title is wildly misleading, but a partnership between UC Berkeley and Nokia has managed to develop a technology that uses cell phones to monitor and surveil real-time traffic flow.

As drivers go tankin’ around town, GPS data will periodically (rather, whenever the cell phone crosses certain arbitrary lines) and anonymously be sent to a faceless and soulless set of servers. The data, which might include velocity, jerk, capacitance or heat flux density—or not—will then be integrated with a high-tech traffic model that might consist solely of red dots and green dots on a giant CRT monitor. Or it might not.

Fancy equations—probably with lots of greek letters, upside-down triangles and no equality signs—will then estimate the traffic flow around you. Because, you know, you can’t gauge traffic using your eyes.

Interested wannabe participants should keep in mind the vast quantities of information, which could go up to hundreds of bits, necessitate some sort of unlimited data plan.

The Clog hopefully sees this project culminating in the creation of user-friendly, British English-speaking cell phones that politely suggest or dissuade their users from switching lanes to beat the rush. But won’t everyone be doing that?

Image Source: cordydan under Creative Commons
UC Berkeley, Nokia turn mobile phones into traffic probes [PhysOrg]
Mobile Millenium [Site]



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