Technology Listings

A Probabilistic Algorithm for Spatial-Temporal, Personal Privacy Protection


Software for location cloaking and privacy while using location-based services.

Key Benefits
  • Allows use of location-based services while maintaining the privacy of the user's location.
  • Provides time-dependency for spatial-temporal cloaking.
  • Operates faster than other location cloaking technologies.
Market Summary

Location-based services are computer program-level services which use location and time data to control features in computer programs. More than 150 million people access location-based services in the United States each year via mobile applications, GPS, and other programs on phones, tablets and other devices. Location privacy has not been comprehensively defined so that inference attacks with the knowledge of a user can succeed on certain types of information, like a presence in a region, a trajectory to a place or an everyday moving pattern.

Technical Summary

Researchers at Emory University have developed a systematic approach to define spatiotemporal privacy and enable location sharing with privacy. The software implements a customizable and rigorous privacy mechanism which allows mobile users to share a cloaked (approximate) location with other third parties (e.g. location based service providers, or other users in location based social networks) without deteriorating its utility for location based applications. It provides mobile users an easy way to customize their privacy settings, such as when and where to share locations and with what precision. The privacy guarantee is based on differential privacy, the state-of-art framework for privacy protection, which ensures that even given the knowledge of the user’s moving patterns “all possible locations where the user may appear” an attacker cannot figure out the true location of the user. The cloaked location also guarantees optimal utility (minimizes error) for location based applications, such as finding nearest restaurants or friends.

Developmental Stage

Prototype iPhone app has been developed.

Patent Information
App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date
Utility(parent) United States 15/299,582 9,867,041 10/21/2016 1/9/2018 10/21/2036
Tech ID: 13151
Published: 8/17/2016

Hyeon (Sean) Kim
Licensing Associate
Emory University

Yonghui Xiao
Li Xiong