First Windows 7 location sensor released, GPS without the hardware

A software based GPS for use in Windows 7 has been developed and released by Rafael Rivera and Long Zheng today.

The software installs a Windows 7 Sensor into the operating system that allows third party applications to become location aware. Dubbed "Geosense for Windows", the software uses the Sensors platform introduced in Windows 7. Geosense is a Windows Sensor that provides positioning information. The sensor utilises the Google Location Services for WiFi and IP triangulation to provide reasonably accurate location data.

Rivera, the developer behind Geosense, claims that future updates could include support for location services such as Skyhook Wireless and Navizon, providing there's a demand for it. A combination of different location services would improve location data.

How does it work?

The application is packaged in an installer for both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 versions. The installer will create a Windows 7 Sensor named "Geosense" that will interact with Google's location services to pinpoint your location. It works best with a Wi-Fi enabled PC or laptop but will work over any IP connection. Windows 7 will notify you each time your location is accessed by a third party application.

Why do I need it? What does it work with?

At this moment in time the Windows Sensor platform is lacking to say the least. Very few developers have built support for the Sensor platform into their products. Geosense claims that Mahtweets (twitter client), Windows 7's weather gadget and a specially designed Google Maps client will all utilize the Sensor. Rivera confirmed Geosense are working closely with several companies to build support for Windows 7 Sensors but declined to name any organisations.

Geosense is available free for both Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit editions.

View: Geosense for Windows

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61 Comments

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I tried with a wired connection (I know, I know ... not a good idea). It said I was in Austin, Texas (I'm really in Norfolk, Va). I then tried it with a wireless connection on my laptop - it said I was someplace in England - THE UK!!!

Seems kinda flaky to me ...

I 'd expect better accuracy from Neowin.

It is my driver which was released first as a GPS Sensor Driver for Windows 7 and it is the first hit when searching google for "Windows 7 GPS Sensor Driver"

http://www.turboirc.com/gps7/ and http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/windowssensorandlocationplatform/thread/85dc2b35-7306-4fa7-8507-332ec5b6a9ee

M.C. said,
I 'd expect better accuracy from Neowin.

It is my driver which was released first as a GPS Sensor Driver for Windows 7 and it is the first hit when searching google for "Windows 7 GPS Sensor Driver"

http://www.turboirc.com/gps7/ and http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/windowssensorandlocationplatform/thread/85dc2b35-7306-4fa7-8507-332ec5b6a9ee


Umm that requires hardware, this doesn't.

Chrono951 said,
Says I'm in downtown Philadelphia....long way from Miami.
It sounds like you're using this on a desktop with no wireless information... true/false?

Rafael said,
It sounds like you're using this on a desktop with no wireless information... true/false?

On my netbook via wireless, but on my University's campus wifi. Could be a firewall or something interfering.

Taxman said,
Mine says that Im in a city 200km's away. Must be the headquarters of my ISP. Useless.

Well, sure. It sounds like you're using this on a desktop with no wireless information... not sure what you're expecting in this scenario.

Taxman said,
Mine says that Im in a city 200km's away. Must be the headquarters of my ISP. Useless.

Yeah, don't use on wired connections. It gives you really weird results.

I tried this link: http://html5demos.com/geo in Firefox 3.5 and it pinned me down somewhere in Texas. On my laptop and iPod touch (via Google's own Map application) it worked correctly.

Taxman said,
Mine says that Im in a city 200km's away. Must be the headquarters of my ISP. Useless.

Most of the time, it would be useless if your connection is wired. Geosense is primarily useful for *wireless* connections.

However, it is the wireless (not wired) connection that usually needs GPS, but the cost (for hardware) has been a roadblock. Now, with Geosense, it costs nothing, and uses what you already have.

Why would I have wired *and* wireless connections to the same router? Not for additional bandwidth, but for straight application and hardware testing. (in other words, for the same reason I run more than one operating system.)

XChrome said,
What's the easest way to test this? Google maps did ask to run a new add-on but nothing?

If you're running Windows 7, the Weather Gadget uses the info from Geosense.
I have Geosense active, and have both wired and wireless connections to my router (same router); the Weather Gadget states (correctly) I'm in the White Hall region of North Accokeek.

Pretty nifty piece of freeware.

Just goes to show how cool the Sensors tech is, another bit of innovative MS stuff that doesn't get talked about or used much probably because it's from MS and nothing more.

GP007 said,
Just goes to show how cool the Sensors tech is, another bit of innovative MS stuff that doesn't get talked about or used much probably because it's from MS and nothing more.

It was a cool bit of Linux stuff, too, [url=http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3833116/Will-Geolocation-Find-a-Home-on-Linux-Desktops.htm]in KDE 4.3 and discussed in this 2009 article[/url].

It wasn't discussed much then, probably not going to be that much here, either. ;)

GP007 said,
innovative MS stuff that doesn't get talked about or used much probably because it's from MS and nothing more.

http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/10/snow-leopard-is-location-aware.html ;)

LOL at the license agreement:


[b]Please read this lengthy license agreement:[/b]

*usual stuff of what you can and can't do*

(Sinofsky was here.)

Then the message next to the tick box:

I authorize you to slap me if I violate the terms above.

:P

Can't wait to try this, I think the Weather integration is especially useful while traveling, no need to change the location every time you're in a new city...will be testing that capability this weekend :D

Privacy and security will be a big issue, however this could be a good thing for something like child protection. Imagine being able to track your children based upon their use of thier laptops. Both amazingly invaluable but also incredibly frightening at the same time!

just curious, how would it know my location based on my private wifi network :). The only thing it should be able to find out with that information is the location of my ISP.

I'm going to give it a try, but I'm really interested to hear the answer :p

XerXis said,
just curious, how would it know my location based on my private wifi network :). The only thing it should be able to find out with that information is the location of my ISP.

I'm going to give it a try, but I'm really interested to hear the answer :p

alright, it determined my location perfectly. So google really has the lat/long coordinates of every ip address? That's rather frightening, i always thought you were only able to pin it down to a region.

XerXis said,

alright, it determined my location perfectly. So google really has the lat/long coordinates of every ip address? That's rather frightening, i always thought you were only able to pin it down to a region.

nevermind, got it now, it doesn't use the IP information, there is a public wifi access point 200 meters away which is in the google database.

XerXis said,
just curious, how would it know my location based on my private wifi network :). The only thing it should be able to find out with that information is the location of my ISP.

I'm going to give it a try, but I'm really interested to hear the answer :p

Either by driving around towns collecting signal strength info or by having more permanent sensors set up to do the same thing.

XerXis said,
so it only works if you are on a public wifi network i guess?

Nope works on private wifi networks too. Give it a go :)

The privacy is handled by Windows in the configuration of the sensors. You can say which users have access to the sensor along with if service can or not. There is also a system tray icon that pops up when something accesses the sensor. Microsoft needs to refine this a bit better, providing app by app access versus users.

What is really scarey is the data that Google has tying the Wifi and IP information to lat/long. That is what folks should be scared of!

Jared Shoq said,
What is really scarey is the data that Google has tying the Wifi and IP information to lat/long. That is what folks should be scared of!

But couldn't anyone do this given enough time? I think it is better for everyone to be able to know this information via a large public corporation with obvious goals then some random group of people compiling the information and using it without anyone knowing they can.

Yert said,

But couldn't anyone do this given enough time? I think it is better for everyone to be able to know this information via a large public corporation with obvious goals then some random group of people compiling the information and using it without anyone knowing they can.

OK I LOL'd there.

"large public corporation with obvious goals" - that would be Google? Wow, people will beleive anything in exchange for a free service...

I tried on my laptop, it works well with google maps! It is very accurate, it located my location to street address heh

Antraxek said,
I tried on my laptop, it works well with google maps! It is very accurate, it located my location to street address heh

how do you get it to work with google maps?

I could see this being useful in a "Find my Win7 computer" way if someone steals it and plugs it in later at some location. But yeah, privacy is an issue here.

thenonhacker said,
I can already see Privacy Issues,
and the need to restrict apps from gaining information about your location.
Well yeah ... but the user chooses to install it.

Nashy said,
Bah. It locates my ADSL2+ exchange. About 2Km away from here.

I presume this is on your desktop? Try with a laptop :)

Long said,

I presume this is on your desktop? Try with a laptop :)


The results on a laptop are pretty damn accurate, right down to the street I'm on and what apartment. On my desktop, I didn't expect it to get anymore accurate than finding the location of my ISP.

Vandalsquad said,
yes really whats the point if you need internet access..

There's plenty of new and emerging services that mix location data with other data. Twitter is perhaps the biggest of all. There's foursquare too and others.

s3n4te said,
What's the point? I can't access internet on the highway.

I think you answered your own question - why would you be using a laptop on the highway?

But besides that, penetration of 3G, LTE and Wimax connectivity is ever growing. There are already laptops out on the market which are always-connected thanks to built-in 3G adapters and that's only going to become more common.

Long said,

why would you be using a laptop on the highway?

Having a separate device for GPS when you can just be using your laptop is a bit expensive for one.

s3n4te said,
What's the point? I can't access internet on the highway.

when u are on the go and do use your laptop your weather on the desktop will be updated to where u are... thats th only good thing i've came up with so far