Archive for the ‘Location’ Category

File Under: Events, Location

Twitter Launches ‘Points of Interest’ Pages for Locations

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SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter is adding location-based place pages to its website, the company has announced.

The new feature is called Points of Interest. Starting soon, users will be able to click on a place name (or a location tag, if one exists) in a tweet and see that place on a map. Next to the map, they’ll also be able to see what people are saying about that place in a search results view. From what we’ve seen, it’s a convenient entry point into the current Twitter chatter about a certain place or city.

There will be an API for developers, which we’ll learn more about later today. The API will let developers build this feature into client apps, so it will be accessible from more places than just the Twitter website soon enough.

The announcement was made by Twitter CEO Evan Williams at the company’s Chirp developer conference taking place here Wednesday.

There are several hundred developers here at Chirp, and the announcement drew a round of applause from the audience.

“I think it’s a big step forward for the Twitter platform,” says Andy Gadiel, founder and president of JamBase, a social website for finding live music shows and events in cities worldwide. “Location is all about relevancy. Not just where you are in terms of a latitude and longitude point, but a real place in the world.”

We’ve seen huge growth around location-based services lately, especially on mobiles, where it’s become central to the user experience of almost every search-based or social app. Late last year, Twitter added the ability for users to add location to tweets, something that made tweets more relevant for search applications. The location tags are basically geotags indicating latitude and longitude, or latlongs. Also, Facebook recently added location-sharing for its users’ status updates as well.

Just after the announcement, Williams fielded a question from the audience: Will Twitter have a check-in behavior around Points of Interest, a la Foursquare?

His response:

“We’re not looking to duplicate the functionality of Foursquare or Gowalla. We want to make those services work better with Twitter. If you’re writing a tweet about a place and you type the name of that place, that’s sort of a check-in. But what we’re really interested in is what you’re saying about that place.”

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File Under: APIs, Location, Web Services

Where 2.0: Geomena Launches API to Feed its Open Location Database

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SAN JOSE, California — A new web service called Geomena is trying to build a geolocation database practically from scratch, and it’s taking a page from Wikipedia’s playbook to do it.

Geomena is an open wi-fi geo database — using a method similar to services from Skyhook and Google, any app plugged in to Geomena can use nearby wi-fi access points to determine your location.

The database is tiny right now. It has around 3,400 geo-tagged access points in the system, most of them around the project’s home base in Portland, Oregon. So, to grow the database as quickly as possible, the Geomena team has launched a new API that lets developers build apps that can enter new wi-fi access point locations.

So, if you’re making a location-based game, a location-sharing Firefox plug-in, or a web-app that relies on geodata, you can rig it up to write new wi-fi location points directly to Geomena’s database, helping it grow through good, old-fashioned crowdsourcing.

The emergence of location as an application platform has led to a bevy of new web services, each of them eager to provide developers with geodata to fuel the current flood of mobile and web-based apps. Most of the buzz at the all-things-location Where 2.0 conference, taking place here this week, has centered around SimpleGeo, a new web data store that just launched its “iTunes for geodata” — a pay-as-you-go solution for developers building location-based apps.

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File Under: Location, Web Services

Where 2.0: SimpleGeo to Launch ‘iTunes for Geodata’

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SAN JOSE, California – If you’re building an app that incorporates location — whether it’s a game, a local search service, or even a Twitter client — you’re going to have to go somewhere to get your data.

As we noted Tuesday, location is now an application platform, and there’s a whole crop of location data stores opening up to serve the emerging market of applications.

SimpleGeo is the latest such company to join the scrum. The web startup is announcing the debut of its geodata service here at Where 2.0 on Wednesday afternoon, but Jenna Wortham of The New York Times leaked the news a little early.

From the NYT Bits blog:

The company has been working to create what he describes as “iTunes for geodata.” The idea is simple: Create a wide sampling of geographic datasets and technologies that developers can access free or, for heavier users, at a range of prices. [...]

The company offers two tools. The first is the SimpleGeo Marketplace, which gives developers access to different location datasets and technologies for a monthly fee. The second is called the SimpleGeo Storage Engine and allows developers to perform location queries on a pay-as-you-go basis.

To gather its data, SimpleGeo began consuming datastreams from Twitter, Gowalla, Foursquare, Brightkite, Flickr and other location-sharing web services.

The pay-as-you-go model will work well for SimpleGeo, which allows the first million API calls for free, according to TechCrunch. Prices then start at $300 for the next level and go up from there. The company claims to have over 4,000 partnered developers using its service.

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File Under: Location, Mobile

Where 2.0: Fly a Drone Helicopter and Fight Killer Robots With Your iPhone

SAN JOSE, California — First unveiled at CES in January of this year, the Parrot AR.Drone is a flying wireless toy that’s the center of a new augmented reality game. It streams video and sends location information as it hovers and zips around, and you can control it with your iPhone or iPod Touch.

As you control it, you see the drone’s POV video stream on your phone’s screen. Tipping the phone in different ways makes the drone turn and fly around, as the software senses the iPhone’s accelerometer.

As if a remote-controlled helicopter isn’t cool enough: The Parrot drone’s control screen has cross hairs, and you can “shoot” at things you see on the screen. The drone detects tags that people have applied to inanimate objects, and as objects are tagged, they can be replaced on-screen by virtual objects. So, as you fly around, you can shoot at virtual killer robots that are layered over the real-world background video. You can also put two drones into battle mode and shoot at each other.

Martin Lefebure of Parrot, the company that makes the device, demonstrated the latest version of the drone on stage at the Where 2.0 conference here Wednesday. The thing flew around the room, and everyone in the audience was able to look up onto the big screen on stage, where they could see themselves waving at the drone’s video camera. Lefebure then did battle with some insect-like evil robots that were holding us hostage in the conference ballroom. Unfortunately, he got his ass handed to him.

Parrot first showed off its iPhone-controlled car — the first concept that eventually evolved into the Parrot — at the 2009 edition of Where 2.0.

The iPhone and the drone talk to each other over a standard wi-fi connection. It has a range of about 150 feet (it’s limited by the range of your wi-fi) and the battery lasts about 15 minutes.

File Under: Events, Location, Mobile

Location Isn’t Just a Feature Anymore, It’s a Platform

The O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference runs through Thursday in San Jose, California.

The O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference runs through Thursday in San Jose, California.

Just when you thought the swell of popularity around location-based services has hit the high water mark, the tide keeps rising.

All of the major web search engines are location-aware. Twitter has its own geocoder and Facebook is including location data in status updates. The big photo-sharing services like Flickr and Picasa support geotagging. Social location apps from Foursquare and Yelp are all the rage, and augmented reality is being touted as the next big thing. The emerging HTML5 specification has its own geolocation controls that let webapps find a user’s location through the browser.

We’ve reached the point where the addition of location data inside an application isn’t a special “bells-and-whistles” add-on, an experimental feature or a layer that’s only useful to some users.

It’s a standard feature now, and it’s crept into every product we care about.

“Location is something that people are just going to expect from now on,” says Brady Forrest, program chair for the O’Reilly Where 2.0 conference, the three-day event about all things location-based taking place in San Jose, California this week.

The location revolution was fueled by the proliferation of geo-enabled devices, Forrest says. Since most of us are carrying GPS devices in our pockets (every iPhone and Android phone has one, and most notebooks, too), it’s created a whole new application platform on which companies from different sectors — search, mapping, gaming, social networking, location-sharing — can compete.

“The platform is here,” he says. “Now, people are finding new ways to exploit it.”

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