Location Sensing Applications with Skyhook

Skyhook is an Intel-research funded LBS startup. They provide services that allow any wifi connected device to find it’s location. Nat profiled them in May. At Where 2.0 this past year they announced a contest, the Wi-Fi Cage Match, so that developers could flex the muscle of the new Skyhook APIs. They have three finalists, each uses the service in such a different way that you can see why the interest in LBS firms is only increasing. One application geocodes your photos as you take them (which will work nicely with Flickr’s new maps), one is a Mozilla extension that in a Greasemonkey-esque fashion passes your current location to the websites you visit, and the third is location-based game. They are:

Eye-Fi’s Wi-Fi enabled media card client combines the data storage of an SD card, the connectivity of a Wi-Fi card and the location-determination capabilities of Skyhook’s WPS to location-stamp photos on most digital cameras. The unique combination of capabilities captures the MAC addresses within range of the camera and associates those addresses with temporally proximate images. Leveraging the Skyhook API, the MAC addresses are uploaded to Eye-Fi’s servers and then passed to the Skyhook Positioning Engine which calculates and returns a location. The resulting latitude/longitude and place name data is embedded within an image’s EXIF header as standard tags which allow the image to be indexed and visualized using existing geo-aware tools.

Firefox/Minimo extension
The location-aware Firefox / Minimo extension, developed by a third party developer, integrates auto-location determination into the Firefox/Minimo browser turning it into a platform for various location-based services. As a result, content accessed or viewed within the browser is specifically and dynamically changed based on the user’s location. For example, a movie directory site viewed in the Firefox/Minimo browser will immediately show only local movies without having you enter a zip code, or an airline’s webpage might notice that you are in a terminal and return to you the arrival/departure data without you having to tap your way through nested links. (Unfortunately, I do not have a link for the extension at this time)

Developed by area/code, Plundr is a laptop-based game that incorporates real-world location. Players take on the role of bloodthirsty pirates navigating the high seas pillaging merchant ships and trafficking black market goods. In Plundr, the action takes place at islands each of which has an actual real-world location. The game uses the Loki browser plug-in to identify the players’ current location and determine which island they are near. Each island has merchant ships to attack and a local marketplace to buy and sell goods. It will be featured at this week’s Come Out and Play Festival.

They are asking for help from the community to choose the winner by next Monday. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to try them all, unless you happen to be the rare person who, by next Monday, will get an Eye-Fi card and attend the Come Out and Play festival (surfing the web using a Firefox extension is easy). As I am not one of those people, when I vote I am going to think about which application I want the most in my life.

Update: There is a working prototype of Plundr on the web. You will need Skyhook’s Loki toolbar to play. Voting just got that much easier.