Skip to Content

A new mobile-phone service claims to be the first to offer location-aware search for products, not just for stores. The service, called Slifter, uses GPS-enabled cell phones; alternatively, a user can enter his or her zip code. The phone then displays lists of products that can be sorted by proximity or price.

During a recent test of the service, a search for a Nikon D40 accurately showed many nearby stores selling the camera. The Slifter search noted how far each store was from the phone and showed that all stores were selling the Nikon D40 for $599.

Slifter could make price comparisons easier, but its databases are far from complete and the search results not always useful. A search for “ice cream” returned information on a toy store selling a product that had “ice cream” in its name. And the first hit in a search for “iPod Nano,” performed in Cambridge, MA, was for an iPod accessory 26 miles away.

Jeremy Kreitler, director of product management for Yahoo Maps, says the big search players aren’t yet attempting Slifter-like services because they don’t have “great, comprehensive, clean data” on inventories. Outside the realm of consumer electronics, data is often unavailable or of “questionable” quality, Kreitler says.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.