googlebargeWhen I first heard about the Google Mystery Barges, I couldn’t wait to figure out what they were. As an innovative company and a leader in new technology solutions, these HAD to be something great. And they might be, but the breaking news is that they aren’t anything earth shattering – possibly just a place for people to try Google’s new technology.

Feeling a little like my son when we didn’t get him a puppy for Christmas, I gave the “interactive learning space” more thought. One of the hardest parts about having disruptive new technology is getting people to try it out, and see how and why it could fit well in their lives. Wearable technology had a tough start but now it’s common to see a monitoring bracelet on a roadside jogger. Google Glass, while still considered a strange technology, is much more accepted now than before and it’s not available for public sale yet. However, the actual vision part of the glasses has yet to be solved for those that no longer have the eyes of a 20 year old.

The story of mobile location is a different type of challenge. With many location based services integrated with social media apps and services, checking-in via FourSquare or on Facebook caught on relatively quickly. With clear privacy settings, users felt safe in sharing their current location with those they trust. So, people were doing it… but now what?

The next step has been met with a little resistance from users and marketing dollars as well. The biggest hurdle for location? Context.

Location-based services aren’t of any use to the user until they are contextually aware. Users need to be empowered through location – not restricted or feel that their privacy is being invaded. This is a delicate line. What users want is relevance to them individually, not based solely on their location. When I pass the local highschool, I don’t need to know a performance of Snow White is going on tonight but I do want to know when my son’s high school football game is relocated to the other school.

What’s the best way to showcase the possibilities of context aware location solutions for mobile devices? Maybe we need our own barge.