Hey folks and valued readers. It has been a few days since I posted and I just wanted to let you know that there have been some changes in my career, but that I am still around and will continue to share my thoughts and interests in this blog.
After 8 years it was time for a move from Geosmart and I have now joined a relatively new company called Imersia as CCO. Imersia was founded in 2009 by entrepreneurs Dr Roy Davies and Jon Lowther, a couple of very clever guys with ideas about the world we live in and the world we want to live in, similar to mine.
In a nutshell we are working in location based services, mobile, Augmented Reality, proximity based marketing, GPS and more across a wide variety of industries with a local flavour, i.e. the business is based in New Zealand and we would like it to stay that way if possible, but a global focus. Effectively I am walking the talk, I have spent many years consulting and evangelising, I’m still doing that, but also much more on the creating side, at least from a company perspective, I’m not a developer myself.
So stick around, don’t delete your RSS feed because I still have lots of exciting ideas, if I say so myself, about leading the way into the future we want, from a technology perspective, but also about the kind of world we want for our families and future generations, cool toys and business tools as well as a safe and sustainable environment. I am ever the idealist.
New Zealand is full of clever people and I am hoping we can enable more of them to take part in the global stage. I’m keen to see some new names appear in the lists of Kiwi innovators contributing to our GDP and being supported by our Government. I love names like Tait Electronics (I spent 7 happy years working for them), Gallagher Electronics and Fisher & Paykel, but isn’t it time for some new kids on the block?
Watch this space:)
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of presenting to a group of ICT professionals at the Mercure Hotel hosted by Sead I.T. People. The presentation in the series of Sead Latest in IT Seminar was on Mobile Marketing.
Covering topics including the latest Gartner Hype Cycle predictions, Location and Proximity Based Marketing, Check-In Marketing, Mobile Computing, QR Codes, Business Intelligence using maps and the hot topic of the use of personal devices in a corporate market, there was something in it for everyone. Case studies illustrated not only practical use of technology, but professional processes to ensure that projects were well designed for success.
The presentation outlined the ongoing chasm between people in the ICT profession and their colleagues when it came to understanding and use of new technologies, particularly mobile and location based. I encouraged the audience ranging from consultants to CIO’s to consider how they can educate and encourage their companies to understand the new technologies and how they fit into their business frameworks. There are great opportunities for IT people to be welcomed back into the boardroom by working closely with the management team to show them how to implement and benefit from new technologies, safely and securely.
It was interesting to learn that O2 is now going to get into daily deals. They will be the first British Telco to enter this market and according to the Financial Times, they are going to invest £6 Million into their daily deals service with the expected participation of 3,500 high street brands. Shaun Gregory, O2’s managing director of media, said that their opt in process was going to be less clunky than that on Facebook and Foursquare etc. and would not require check ins. This effectively means it is not a location based service at all, but yet another spin on the Daily Deals I wrote about in my blog yesterday.
Ironically I and many other people in the telecommunications industries over the years have been trying to convince local telco’s to support payment for products via mobile, including vending machines, pointing out the enormous value in clipping the ticket on transactions. Probably about 12-15 years ago I was able to buy Coke from a vending machine at the local Ericsson office, but it was only ever a Beta service.
Amazon is also getting in on the act in the USA with Amazon Local which is yet another spin and hardly local given that it works in exactly the same way as the regional deals every other Daily Deal site offers, noting to do with check ins. It will at least support local businesses in the same way as other sites does with vouchers etc to be redeemed in local eateries and stores with the same debatable results. Amazon certainly knows the value of clipping the ticket as I mentioned in an older blog with a link to a Harvard Business Review Clip of John Donahoe explaining what his business model is, and I can tell you it is now selling books.
Eventually if you keep following this blog, I will get to the point of the value of using Location Based Marketing instead of Daily Deals. This is starting to seem a whole lot like the boring unimaginative reality TV shows that all the networks are rolling out. It’s much cheaper to imitate than to innovate and of course you are encouraging them by watching, because if you didn’t watch, then they wouldn’t be able to get advertisers to promote their daily deals businesses!
In an article at LBS Zone, LeClairRyan attorney Kevin D. Pomfret says businesses should step forward to educate Congress and executive agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the breadth and scope of location-based technologies, as well as the industry’s enormous potential.
This is something I have been saying for some time in past blogs. If we get Location Based Services applications right, they can enrich our lives in so many aspects. For example:
- B2C Marketing. I would welcome personal location based marketing, based on my location, time and interests. Tell me if there is a hot deal on a new guitar pedal or music software as I drive past a music store on a Saturday. My girls would love to be told there is a 2 for 1 coupon on the latest summer fashion as they walk past a shop and their colors and sizes are in stock.
- Health and safety. If one of my relatives is ill and needs medical help while on vacation, a blind or disabled person becomes disoriented, a diabetic travels and forgets their insulin, a car’s airbags deploy on a remote country road. These are all instances where consumers can be aided by LBS apps and help directed to them with ease.
- Entertainment. Rugby World Cup year starts in less than 24 hours in New Zealand. Wouldn’t it be great if people can sign up to services that know where in the country they are, what they are interested in and can guide them to other activities based on time of day, interest and location? It could be golf, a cultural performance, Happy Hour, a concert or music festival, you could opt in before hand with your interests so if you are a ballet fan, you don’t get guided to a Christian Death Metal Grunge Fest.
- The Road Trip. An application that provides car navigation, access to traffic information, entertainment, allows you to connect to your social networks, upload photos and blog, find ‘friends’ close to you and more.
We’ll see more of these in 2011, along with apps from Facebook, Google, Apple, Foursquare, Groupon, Twitter and hundreds of others. But what about the risks?
When you sign up for these applications, do you know who you are giving access to? Do you know whether you can opt out? Do you know of the service has the ability to delete your information if you decide to opt out. Often the services themselves don’t have that ability because Google and other services have cached it and even if they delete it, it still exists in other places.
It is a well know fact that criminal elements already use sites such as Facebook to identify people they want to commit crimes against. It might be that they want your car, your jewellery, your 65″ 3D TV, all the Christmas presents you displayed on your profile, or just to ransack your house. It may be nothing to do with you, as they say in the movies “Nothing Personal, this is business”.
You could follow this thread and think, this guy is anti LBS. Wrong, its how I make my living. I love it for what it can do for me and you. I just worry about how it can be used and believe it is incumbent on the developers to make the applications as safe as possible, to provide privacy controls and make sure people know how to use them. They might also want to consider liability insurance. I’ve heard of insurance claims by people who drove their cars into rivers because their nav told them to turn right. It won’t be long before there are claims from people saying that it is the fault of the social media location application, which indirectly told a car ring that their expensive sports car would be parked at the airport for 2 weeks.
The article that set me off on today’s blog was about educating politicians, something that needs to happen all over the world, because these applications go international very quickly. It is also necessary to educate the developers because they are focussed on what they want people to be able to do with their apps, not the inherent risks of uses they hadn’t considered. I often want my ‘friends’ to know where I am, but I don’t want people who are not my ‘friends’ to know where I am or where I am not.
This is not my first blog motivated by Pomfret. In September I wrote about Location Based Apps and Trust, prior to that Proximity Based Marketing and Trust, and a whole series of blogs around Who’s Looking at You on Facebook. In one of them I thought up a name at random, searched for someone with that name and found out a huge amount of information about the person. I found it to be very scary, what I could find out about that person. Add location to that mix now and it could become downright dangerous.
Of course the tables can be turned on crims as well as law enforcement agencies can use the same apps to find out what they are up to and where.
My road was recently recently resealed, well sort of. There is loads of loose metal on the sides of the road, tar is welling up through the metal and 3 cars in our household have had stones stuck with tar to our brake disks. I rang Auckland Council to ask when it was going to be finished and they said it was, but that they will look into it. That was 2 weeks ago and haven’t heard a thing since.
Then I read about Voice My View which is a project collaboration between five leading universities in the UK. The basic concept is to use a variety of media to allow the public to voice their opinions about their surroundings via mobile phones, strategically situated kiosks, social media and going forward with an application combining web, SMS and many other input media called Viewki, which includes features such as geocoding, clustering of comments and much more. This application is still in prototype but looks like a great innovation.
I hope they get past the prototype, this is something that Local Government all over the world should embrace. I note there is already an iPhone App available, which is good to see.
I just read a blog by Kevin Pomfret, Executive Director of the Centre for Spatial Law and Policy, about the decision of Craigslist to pull it’s Adult Services section after finding out that people had been using it for prostitution and trafficking of women and girls. He suggested that people developing geolocation applications needed to also consider privacy of users in the same way.
I totally agree. Already there are many anecdotal stories of people using Facebook and other stories to target empty homes. One story in Mail Online called Facebook a shopping list for burglars. It went on to suggest that insurance companies might increase the risk profile of clients who have social networking accounts.
Now of course we have Facebook Places, which starts by checking the city your IP Address is based in and then invites you to let it know exactly where you are. There are bound to be loads of Facebook applications for mobile that will use the GPS in your phone to check exactly where you are. Great for stalkers who want to find you and for others who want to know where you aren’t and such as when you are not at home.
For more on this, check out my blog on Who’s Looking at you on Facebook?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am totally into location based services. I just want to make sure that people understand what they are getting into when they start using them. An application I really like is foursquare. It has rewards for people who use it such as points and badges. You can see where your ‘friends’ are, which is great if you want to catch up with them. I recommend if you do that, you make sure you actually know and trust your ‘friends’.
As foursquare starts to work towards monetizing, a good thing to do for application developers:) they are now selling advertising and encouraging locations to offer deals based on proximity. For example, if you become Mayor of a location you can get special deals. If you are Mayor of Auckland Airport for example, you can get free entry into the Koru Lounge. The cool thing about that is that the advertiser doesn’t have to know who you are and has no way of knowing who you are unless you tell them.
That’s one of the places I want to go with proximity based marketing. I would like to see Happy Hour applications and be offered deals based on product segments I’m interested in, at times when I am not only in proximity, but also when I am open to an offer. Offer me a 2 for 1 deal at a bar on a Friday evening, but not on a Monday morning. Give me the ability and an incentive to invite my friends, but I don’t want the advertiser to to have access to my friends details unless they want to provide them.
Opting in and informed consent is crucial for location based marketing. There is a Code of Practice for Direct Marketing in most countries. Proximity Based Marketing is even more important and for applications to become accepted, we need to be able to trust that our privacy and security is protected. This is particularly important for children and young adults who could easily be targeted by dangerous criminals.
Informed consent is a key issue here. Most people don’t read End User License Agreements. Do you know the rights you have bestowed on Microsoft when you open Microsoft Office? Did you read them, or did you just tick the box and start using it. In the Windows 7 EULA it says “b. Use of Information. Microsoft may use the computer information, accelerator information,
search suggestions information, error reports, and Malware reports to improve our software and services. We may also share it with others, such as hardware and software vendors.”
If you use any application, especially a location based application, you need to clearly understand what privacy it allows you and what your potential risks are. More on this in the future. In the meantime, the onus is on the application developers to protect the interests of the users if they want to encourage them to use their applications.
When The Hyperfactory started in mobile marketing, they got together with advertising agencies and other interested parties and formed a wireless marketing association. One of the first things the association did was to form a voluntary code of practice. I believe the same thing needs to happen for location based applications and quickly.
If you have been following my blogs, you’ll be aware that I am very passionate about the mobile and Location Based Services technologies. I am always checking out new concepts and many of them are variations on the same theme. This doesn’t make them less interesting, although one of the issues I want to work out is which ones offer a unique perspective that will allow them to be The Next Big Thing. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be the next Facebook or Twitter (which many people said was just a waste of time, in fact many are still saying it is going nowhere and won’t make money. You won’t hear that from me).
One that I recently found out about is GPS Film. GPS Film is an open source tool that allows film makers to produce a movie that people watch on their mobile smartphone. The film segments or chapters are triggered by the mobile being in certain locations. The example on the video below is a film called Nine Lives which was filmed in Singapore. The comedy which you watch on your iPhone or other Smartphone begins with a climax and then in order to see the rest of the film, you need to go to the locations where it the film was shot in order to see each clip. The GPS on the phone is the trigger to allow you to see the next scene.
This has amazing potential as a tourism tool. Imagine doing a road trip of New Zealand following a movie like Goodbye Pork Pie, or checking out some of the great spots in NY State from the movie Road Trip, where you have to be in those places to view each segment.
Now come a little back to earth and think about what you can do, and what Singapore has done with ‘Nine Lives‘. What a great entertaining way to explore a city. This looks to me to be a dream for tourism organisations. Given that it doesn’t have to offer a full cinematic experience, a cool film can be made with a modest budget, perhaps sponsored by businesses such as tourist attractions, accommodation providers, food and beverage chains, which would provide locations for segments of a movie. Did I mention it is Open Source?
This is definitely food for thought and a great opportunity around major events such as the Rugby World Cup next year. Check out this short video to see what I mean.
First of all I must apologise for the Blogfade. Over the last few weeks I’ve bought a new house and sold my own one which has caused a lot of stress and taken a lot of my time. Assuming that my sale goes through tomorrow, I wil be moving this weekend and life will get back to normal.
I’ve been busy on a lot of projects lately, one of which has been working on developing channels for GeoVector’s World Surfer product.
Worldsurfer is a location based application that runs on iPhone 3GS and Android mobiles which incorporate both GPS and Compass, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities.I have to say that even though the G1 I’m using currently is 1st generation Android, the combination of GPS and Compass is remarkably accurate. I suspect it is also using cell tower triangulation. It has my street address exactly correct even though I am inside my lounge, whereas my old phone using just Vodafone cell towers had my kitchen in one suburb and my lounge in another and I assure you my house is not that big.
The concept for this solution is that it provides for Location Based ‘Channels’ which allow you to search for Points of Interest based on your present location. A Channel is typically a category of POI (Points of Interest).
On the G1 that I am using at the moment I have the New Zealand channels that are currently available here. The first is GeoSmart, for whom I am the Sales & Marketing Manager.
GeoSmart is the company providing API’s, web services and web maps behind many leading web sites in NZ and services in many other countries. The best known site is AA Maps, which also now features real time traffic covering all of New Zealand. The GeoSmart Channel on Worldsurfer for NZ includes a nationwide set of categories and subcategories currently covering Accomodation, Banks and ATM’s, Entertainment, Parks and Gardens, Pubs Taverns and Bars, Restaurants, Takeaway Food and Public Toilets.
You can set it to only look in a band in the direction you are pointing your phone or in a 360 degree radius from your current location and it will locate POI up to 5 miles / 8km away. So in effect you can look for a Japanese Restaurant in the direction you are currently travelling. When you select one, the compass will point you in the direction of that venue and show a running distance calculation as you travel towards it.
You then have the option to call them for a reservation with one touch of the screen, get turn by turn directions and a map to guide you, mark the location for future reference, check Flickr, YouTube or Google for more information about the location.
World Surfer is as it sounds an international product and will automatically open the options available for the country you are in. Some are subscription channels whilst others are available free of charge.
Other channels available in New Zealand currently are Google, Zenbu, Wikipedia (which looks for information by location, based on pointing your mobile), Starbucks, and Vodafone Stores. I am currently working on developing many more channels for NZ. There are other exciting projects on the way, but if I tell you what they are, I’d be in big trouble, so watch this space.
As a footnote, I’ve said before that I would like to create an application called Where’s My Car, because everyone has a story of not being able to remember where they parked their car. I often see people in shopping mall car parks, at rugby matches and other spots wandering up and down trying to figure out where their cars are. When I got this Android phone (on loan) I found an application called CarDar Light.
This application lets you ‘mark’ the location of your car as you park it and will then guide you, even inside a car park, to your car. You can enter the level number or colour of the floor as an assist, but after that you will never lose your car again.
For a demonstration of WorldSurfer check out the YouTube video below:
Another step of the future which pretty much dates back to the original Star Trek TV programmes has become not only reality, but is becoming mainstream. Now to get the company to buy me that iPhone 3GS!
OK, we were only ahead of Australia by a couple of hours, but we need everything we can get. Maybe we should give some iPhones to the All Blacks to help them find the try line in the TriNations and Bledisloe on Saturday, but that’s another story. As another aside, when I wrote TriNations, my spell checker suggested ‘urinations’. We’ll let that one be too.
So this morning I got a phone call letting me know that TomTom Car Navigation is now available with GeoSmart maps, for New Zealand in the iTunes Apps Store. This is awesome news. We’ve had some routing applications available in New Zealand, but nothing with any real accuracy. Also the other apps required that you download data frequently, which means additional cost to your Telco, whereas the iPhone application has all of the maps and Points of Interest you need on the device.
The application requires OS3.0 but as I understand it, as long as you have the OS version, you can run the application on any iPhone as well as iPod Touch if you purchase the TomTom Car Kit. Neither helps me as I only have an iPod Classic and a Blackberry, but I hope to remedy that situation soon.
The car kit itself seems very cool and I hope to get the chance to try one. The car kit includes the new TomTom mount, which I really like. It also incorporates a speaker and a microphone as well as an external GPS antenna which means that you don’t have to buy the very latest iPhone with GPS and Compass (although that would be my pick right now) if you already have an iPhone or iPod Touch. The car kit also charges the iPhone when it is in the cradle.
Now the debate has begun in earnest. Why buy the iPhone App and Car Kit, when for the same price you can buy a dedicated PND (Portable Navigation Device) for the same price or maybe even less? This is a similar question to the one I get frequently, which is, what navigation unit or brand is the best? My answer is that ‘best’ is subjective. Different brands and different models currently have different features and the feature set is part of the argument that defines what is best for you.
TomTom and Navman both have new product ranges and different features relating to the user interface, functionality etc. Both brands in New Zealand have GeoSmart Maps (and if you don’t know by now, I work for GeoSmart) which are the most accurate for New Zealand. Why is not relevant for today’s blog. For example Navman now has AA Traffic and TomTom has IQ Routes (which are not the same concept, just an example).
Perhaps part of the answer is how often you travel. As I’ve said in previous blogs. your mobile is your ubiquitous device. You always have it with you. I always have car navigation in my car, but if I’m out of town (without my car) I don’t always take it with me.
The TomTom iPhone Car Kit solves another problem because you can use it as a hands free kit for your mobile. From 1 November, driving and talking on a handheld mobile will become illegal. You will either have to use a hands free kit of some sort or not use your phone at all in the car. I have stopped accepting or making any calls in the car, although I might accept important calls if I had a hands free kit. There is always a tension and anxiety around not answering calls on your mobile. People expect to be able to reach you, which causes an unpleasant feeling for both parties. So here’s a nice solution for your car.
So back to the application, this is essentially the same application as the one residing on the normal PND devices carried by your favourite consumer electronics stores. One cute thing is that on iPhone you can orient your phone to landscape or portrait and it will automatically adapt itself.
The nature of car navigation is changing and like most new technologies it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict what will happen in the near future. LBS on mobile is a given and if you search through my blogs, you will find several about mobile applications, car navigation on mobile will become common place and of course there are many situations where you would like guidance while walking, exercising, travelling in a taxi or on public transport. These are often scenarios where you want to travel light, but wouldn’t go without your mobile.
If you had asked me last year, where car navigation is going, I would have told you about ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), for which R&D has been funded by the European Governments. This was to develop systems that would reduce accidents in a number of ways, including monitoring vehicles positions in relation to the lane markings on roads, legal driving speeds, speed and distance of vehicles in front and behind you and much more. Many of the innovations for this are being developed and in some cases launched by brands as far apart as BMW and Nissan.
This system was originally going to be made mandatory in all new cars sold in Europe from 2012 and if this was still the case, it could have meant significantly reduced demand for PND’s. When I was in The Netherlands earlier this year, I was advised that the date had been dropped and the European Union were having a rethink on the subject, and particularly their ongoing commitment to funding it. They determined that it would take more than 10 years before the majority of vehicles in Europe would have this system in place and therefore the deadline wouldn’t have any immediate impact. A cynic would say that this would mean that current politicians would not get any credit within their career to justify spending time on it.
So now we have (I reiterate I haven’t tried it yet) a new system which will provide an all but identical experience to a PND on your iPhone. Of course TomTom isn’t the only mobile product available, but it is the first one being commercially sold in New Zealand. The new Android phones also have GPS and Compass and of course there are some very good Windows Mobile applications as well such as iGO8. Will there be a move away from PND’s? I doubt it, at least in the near future. Navman will certainly be hoping not.
There will be a camp that says a PND is the best device at being a PND. They said the same about PDA’s, but SmartPhones are now viable devices, even though I still have to reboot my new Blackberry Bold at least a couple of times a week. The future is going to be interesting. There are phone companies such as Nokia who showed their intention by purchasing Navteq and are planning converged devices that combine a mobile with car navigation. There are PND manufacturers who are going to be putting SIM Card slots into their car navigation devices.
The market will decide what the best is and the answer to all questions will be yes:)
I’ll leave the last word for today to TomTom.