Creepy GPS tracking (the day in bike ride, part 2)

June 9, 2011


Maybe it’s a little unfair to call it “creepy GPS tracking” since I’m the one who installed the app on my iPhone and turned it on for the express purpose of tracking my bike ride. If you were a reader already last summer and saw my bike ride reports, know this: the maps that I included were all hand generated by me. 

A couple of months ago, my friend Jack who was already out biking in, of all places, Scotland, turned me on to, one of the three flavors of app that Abvio Inc makes to track your activity at three different paces (walking, running, biking). I haven’t delved into why different apps are necessary for different speeds. Someone else can figure that out if they’re curious.

(Not because it was Scotland per se, but because it would have been Scotland in March, and that seems a little early to be galavanting around on one’s bicycle that far north.)

Anyway, I embraced Cyclemeter as an easy way to get a map of where I’ve gone. I had tested it on a couple of previous short rides that didn’t involve stops. Saturday was the first time I’ve used it on a longer ride. As I said in last night’s entry (to which you can refer for details about the highlights on tonight’s map, other than the toilet which is mentioned below), I didn’t plan on all the stops and wandering around that I ended up doing. I left the app running the whole time.

When I got home, I had Cyclemeter send the map data to Google Maps. I looked at it and at first glance I thought, great, that’s where I went. Then I zoomed in and things got the aforementioned creepy.

It followed me around the Midtown Farmers Market, and it followed me following the deer. And it captured all of my movements in Minnehaha Park where I ended up spending an hour or so between the Falls and the band I listened to for a while. I didn’t think too much of it. I was mostly pleased that even though it’s the bicycle version of the three apps, it kept working while I was walking, too.

The creepiness crept in when I noticed that in addition to tracking my general walking around, it also managed to capture my every move inside the bathroom, which was my original reason for getting off the bike path and going a little ways into the park. The GPS shows you that I used one of the northern stalls and then had to walk a few feet to the center to use the sink. I exited and started walking around.

Had I thought about it beforehand, I wouldn’t have had any reason to believe that the tracking would pause while I was in the bathroom. A satellite doesn’t know that I had to pee like a racehorse. Next time, though, I will try to engage the pause feature. I don’t mind a little privacy for certain things.


Map and satellite image © Google Maps and affiliates

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