Do You Know Where You’ll Be 285 Days From Now
at 2 P.M.? These Data-Masters Do

Microsoft researchers have developed a mobility prediction system that knows where you will be, even years down the road. What does this mean for the future of business?

Far Out
This screenshot of Far Out’s visualization tool shows mobility patterns of one of the study subjects living in the Seattle metropolitan area. The colored triangular cells represent a probability distribution of the person’s location given an hour of a day and day type.

MICROSOFT RESEARCHERS HAVE DEVELOPED A MOBILITY PREDICTION SYSTEM THAT KNOWS WHERE YOU WILL BE, EVEN YEARS DOWN THE ROAD. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?

Would you like to know how crowded your drive to the beach will be in three weeks? Or where your ex will be on a Friday night next month so that you can avoid him?

Adam Sadilek, formerly of Microsoft, and John Krumm, a principal researcher at Microsoft, were inspired by the question of predicting where people would be in the future and even led off with the query, “Where are you going to be 285 days from now at 2PM?” in their their paper, Far Out: Predicting Long-Term Human Mobility.

“At first glance,” the researchers told us, “it sounds like a very difficult problem.”

Sadilek, Krumm, and others have done a lot of research on predicting where a person might be in the immediate future–say, in an hour or two. Logically enough, it’s been found that a person’s previous location is a good clue for their next location. But as these models are extended into the future, they give poorer and poorer results. To guess with any accuracy where someone would be in 20 or 200 days would be more of a challenge. In order to do so, Sadilek and Krumm realized, they’d have to develop new techniques. Continue reading “Do You Know Where You’ll Be 285 Days From Now
at 2 P.M.? These Data-Masters Do”