New MIT iFind Messenger Application Lets Students Locate Other Wi-Fi Laptop Equipped Friends

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MIT (Massachusetts Institude of Technology) this week released a rather cool messenger like application called iFind that allows students to find each other on a campus map using Wi-Fi enabled laptops. Whether your friend is hanging out on the banks of the Charles River that runs alongside MIT or hunched over studying in the library, you’ll know it.


This new iFind application (see the MIT site for iFind here) was developed by a technology team at MIT and is written using the Java programming language. It will work on Windows XP, Apple Mac OS X 10.3 or higher and of course Linux. Students are able to download the application and then select which friends can see their location on a campus map. It works like a messenger Buddy List, if a friend adds you then you have to accept the add at which point you will be able to see each other. You can also select which times you want to be "visible" so you’re not being tracked 24/7. When a friend is logged on you will see their avatar (which a user chooses) and you simply click on the Avatar to pop up a window and send a message.

Stalking Tracking your friends on campus has never been easier

The system only works on the MIT campus because your laptop’s wi-fi card will determine your position by calculating signal strength from known MIT access points (of which there are about 2,800). Developers of iFind estimate that positioning is accurate "within a few meters".

iFind Buddy list

While we’re not sure this will allow you to do better in school, the cool factor is off the scale here, and finding others to coordinate say a group project meeting would be easy. I’m sure the geeks at MIT will soon have a feature that allows you to find the "center of mass" between a group of people and determine the most central meeting location.

As far as security goes, developers emphasize they’re not storing anything on servers in terms of location so your path over campus or location history could never be determined by someone that hacks into the system. Only your buddies would know where you are and where you were.



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