My friends won’t be shocked in the latest by the following sentence. I like technology. I’m always trying to come up with some clever use of the latest gadget. Something most people aren’t doing with it yet. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to find uses in technology that could help me overcome things like my shyness and social anxiety. This blog post will explain how I did that with geofencing.
Before I begin, here is a quick description of geofencing from Wikipedia:
A geo-fence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area..
A geo-fence could be dynamically generated—as in a radius around a store or point location. Or a geo-fence can be a predefined set of boundaries, like school attendance zones or neighborhood boundaries. Custom-digitized geofences are also in use.
When the location-aware device of a location-based service (LBS) user enters or exits a geo-fence, the device receives a generated notification. This notification might contain information about the location of the device. The geofence notice might be sent to a mobile telephone or an email account.
Apple included geofencing technology in iOS5. I started playing with it a couple of months ago. As a test, I set up a fence around my house using Apple’s Reminders app on my iPhone. I set up my phone to vibrate and show me the following message: “Ha! I made you look down.” So, now once I left my house or approached it, my phone buzzes and shows that message. It’s not very practical. But, it showed that it works. It’s not entirely exact. My phone often vibrates when I’m still over a block away. Or if I’m waiting for a bus at the end of the street, it will buzz a couple of times depending how long my pacing is along the sidewalk.
My next step was to do something productive with it. When I set the next geofence, I hadn’t yet ventured to my support group in girl mode (have I not blogged about that yet?). I knew it would be very hard and that I would need some encourging words. So, I set up a geofence around the LGBT Center. The message I set to go off on my phone reads “Nobody is going to judge you”. And sure enough that message helped as I did walk in there in girl mode a couple of weeks ago. When I started going to support group meetings a couple of years ago, I needed to give myself a reward for doing something that was stressful. I would often treat myself to a nice dinner at a restaurant if I managed to walk in and stay for an entire group session. So, I made another geofence around the Center. But, this time, I made it so it would trigger when I left. It reads “Congratulations! I knew you could do it!” Now, I know it’s a bit of anthropomorphizing of my phone. But, it’s no worse than how we sometimes feel like Siri is almost a real person. The encouraging words were what I needed. And it worked. I’ll keep the geofence around the Center for the foreseeable future as I get comfortable with my transition. But, sometimes it goes off if I ride my bike by The Center. I just laugh it off and remember that indeed, nobody is going to judge me today.