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Location-finding technologies have taken root in Europe and Asia (see “Location’s Rising Sun,” sidebar) due to the convenience they offer, but the driving force in the United States has so far been safety. Six years ago, the Federal Communications Commission mandated that cellular carriers be able to automatically locate anyone making an emergency 911 call. Carriers must be able to locate callers to an accuracy of 50 to 100 meters (depending on the technology used) by December 2005. “Hundreds of millions of cell phones have to have location awareness by law. That’s a huge technology driver,” says Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, which is helping develop, among other things, the next generation of wireless technologies.

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