A $6 million publicly-funded project by Hong Kong researchers to use mobile phones as tracking devices has been branded behind the times by a consultant for a Canadian firm that has already developed such a system. Hong Kong scientists involved in the Mobile Location Estimation System (MLES) project claim to be able to tell the location of mobile-phone users to within 50 metres when they make a call. The two years of funding has a year to go. But a sales consultant for Montreal-based Profilium said using mobile phones as homing beacons was already a mature technology, and his company had for years developed it for both intelligence and law enforcement agencies in several countries. It is being further developed for advertising purposes in partnership with Lucent Technologies. 'Our technology is far beyond what Hong Kong researchers have. The accuracy of their system is only 50 metres, but ours is 10 metres,' said the consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He is in Hong Kong on a business trip to meet telecommunication operators PCCW and Sunday. MLES co-researcher and Productivity Council principal consultant Lawrence Cheung Chi-chong admitted that the technical concept of using phones as tracking devices was well-developed, but said that it was still necessary for Hong Kong to develop its own system because of local conditions. He said Hong Kong was different from North America because of the city's highly concentrated population and a high level of signal interference by skyscrapers. 'Our system has been proved to be effective in 18 urban districts and several rural districts in Hong Kong,' Mr Cheung said. He said the $6 million funding for the MLES was worthwhile. 'We should have our own system. It could provide our government and local companies with affordable technology,' he said.