Patent Watch: IBM Figures Out How To Limit Device Access By Geolocation

Could IBM be prepping more of its own location-aware technology and devices? According to a recent patent filing, it looks like it. On Thursday, Big Blue filed for a patent for a “method and system for location-aware authorization.” The inventors appear to be IBM engineers based in Rome, Italy.

According to the filing, the technology would provide a method and technology to control access to a device based on the location of that device. IBM gave the example of a company that only wanted employees to use a particular device in the office or their home and believe that their technology would allow the employer to control where the particular device can be accessed.

Here’s an excerpt from the filing:

The invention provides a method and system for location-aware authorization such as for electronic devices (e.g., mobile electronic devices). One embodiment involves authorizing access to a standalone system such as a mobile device, by collecting user credentials on the device for authentication, obtaining location information (e.g., geographical position) for the device from a locating module such as a satellite navigation module attached to the device, accessing profile authorization information for authenticating the user based on the user credentials and device location information (localization), authorizing access to the device by the user if the profiled authorization settings match the credentials and the position of the device.

Talk about GPS-lockdown.  In an age of mobile workers and telecommuters, such a product might be more of a hindrance than a help for most organizations.  But I could see putting something like that on servers or machines with super-sensitive data that are not supposed to leave the premises.  The big question looms: what will Big Blue, which reported strong earnings for 2009 this past week, do with this technology?

Thanks for the tip Anand S.