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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”