"location" entries

Horseshoes, hand grenades, and building mobile applications

The difference between location and proximity: knowing you’re in the restaurant vs knowing what table you’re sitting at.

As the old proverb goes, “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” It doesn’t quite apply when building mobile applications, however. Smaller screens and the resistance to extensive keyboard input define the input and output constraints of mobile apps, but there is something more fundamental that a mobile application can do. At its best, an application that knows where you are will augment reality to help you navigate and interact with the physical world. These applications are sometimes described as “location” applications and sometimes described as “proximity” applications. Many people are guilty of using the words interchangeably — myself included. In response to my post on iBeacon basics, Alasdair Allan called me out on Twitter:

His comment was spot-on. In this post, I’ll define (and be very precise about) the difference, the importance of which leads directly to the level of interest in proximity — and informs the excitement levels around technologies like iBeacons. Read more…

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Improve Mobile UX with iBeacons

Enable indoor location services with Bluetooth Low Energy alerts

In the last couple of months, iBeacon is making a lot of noise. iBeacons are small wireless sensors placed inside any physical space that transmit data to your phone using Bluetooth Low Energy (also known as Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Smart). Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), iBeacon opens up new opportunities by creating a beacon around regions so your app can be alerted when users enter them. Apple quietly rolled out the iBeacons framework as part of iOS 7, but lots of iBeacon manufacturers (Estimote, Roximity Beacons, Adomalay, Kontact etc.) are already emerging. It is going to play an important role in several areas.

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Four short links: 24 September 2013

Four short links: 24 September 2013

Camera Heart Rate, Low Power Location, Quantified Self Radio, and a Multi Sensor

  1. Measuring Heart Rate with a Smartphone Camera — not yet realtime, but promising sensor development.
  2. iBeaconslow-power, short-distance location monitoring beacons. Any iOS device that supports Bluetooth Low Energy can become an iBeacon, and can detect other iBeacons when they are nearby. Apps can be notified when iBeacons move in and out of range of the device, and can monitor the proximity of iBeacons as their proximity changes over time.
  3. Analysis: The Quantified Self (BBC) — radio show on QS. Good introduction for the novice.
  4. Tinke — heart rate, blood oxygen, respiration rate, and heart rate variability in a single small sensor that plugs into your iOS device.
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Four short links: 7 August 2013

Four short links: 7 August 2013

Toxic Behaviour, Encryption Deception, Foursquare Strategy, and Problem-First Learning

  1. Toxic Behaviouronly 5% of toxic behavior comes from toxic people; 77% of it comes from people who are usually good.
  2. More Encryption Is Not The Solution (Poul-Henning Kamp) — To an intelligence agency, a well-thought-out weakness can easily be worth a cover identity and five years of salary to a top-notch programmer. Anybody who puts in five good years on an open source project can get away with inserting a patch that “on further inspection might not be optimal.”
  3. On Location With Foursquare (Anil Dash) — Foursquare switched from primarily being concerned with the game-based rewards around engagement and the recording of people’s whereabouts to a broader mission that builds on that base to be about location as a core capability of the Internet.
  4. The Flipped Flipped Classroomthe “exploration first” model is a better way to learn. You cannot have the answers before you think of the questions. (via Karl Fisch)
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Location Functionality in Mobile Apps

OSCON 2013 Speaker Series

Andy Gup (@agup) is a Developer Evangelist at ESRI and OSCON 2013 Speaker. In this interview we talk about location capabilities in apps as well as location analytics.

NOTE: If you are interested in attending OSCON to check out Andy’s talk or the many other cool sessions, click over to the OSCON website where you can use the discount code OS13PROG to get 20% your registration fee.

Key highlights include:

  • Mobile apps must have location capabilities [Discussed at 0:25]
  • Consider your goals when incorporating location into an app [Discussed at 1:05]
  • Is it difficult to add location functionality? [Discussed at 2:19]
  • A real-world example of where it made a big difference [Discussed at 3:32]
  • Location analytics are very powerful [Discussed at 5:11]
  • Augmented reality and location capabilities [Discussed at 6:38]

You can view the full interview here:

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Four short links: 25 June 2013

Four short links: 25 June 2013

History as Science, Indoor Location, Nightscape Photography, and Finding the Impossible

  1. Cliodynamics: History as Sciencea systematic application of the scientific method to history: verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material. In short, history needs to become an analytical, predictive science.
  2. Cricket — indoor location system from MIT. In a nutshell, Cricket uses a combination of RF and ultrasound technologies to provide location information to attached host devices. Wall- and ceiling-mounted beacons placed through a building publish information on an RF channel. [...] The listener runs algorithms that correlate RF and ultrasound samples (the latter are simple pulses with no data encoded on them) and to pick the best correlation. Even in the presence of several competing beacon transmissions, Cricket achieves good precision and accuracy quickly.
  3. The World at Nightan international effort to present stunning nightscape photos and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against celestial attractions.
  4. Paul Steinhardt on Impossible Crystals (YouTube) — quasi-crystals with five-fold symmetry previously believed impossible. And then he found one, and led an expedition in 2011 to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia to find new information about its origin and search for more samples. As you do when you’re the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton, a job title that comes with no pressure at all to bring home the impossible.
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Four short links: 24 June 2013

Four short links: 24 June 2013

Location Data, Online Science, Mythbusting for Education, and Cheap Music For All

  1. Reading Runes in Animal Movement (YouTube) — accessible TEDxRiverTawe 2013 talk by Professor Rory Wilson, on his work tracking movements of animals in time and space. The value comes from high-resolution time series data: many samples/second, very granular.
  2. Best Science Writing Online 2012 (Amazon) — edited collection of the best blog posts on science from 2012. Some very good science writing happening online.
  3. Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education (PDF) — Derek Muller’s PhD thesis, summarised as “mythbusting beats lectures, hands down”. See also his TED@Sydney talk.
  4. Melomics — royalty-free computer-generated music, all genres, for sale (genius business model). Academic spinoff from Dr. Francisco J. Vico’s work at UMA in Spain.
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Square Wallet, the Apple Store, and Uber: Software Above the Level of a Single Device

This is the beginning of a great rewiring of every aspect of business processes and interactions.

Back in 2003, Dave Stutz, in his parting letter to Microsoft, wrote a prescient line about the future of technology: “Useful software written above the level of the single device will command high margins for a long time to come. Stop looking over your shoulder and invent something!” Software above the level of a single device! That line stuck with me, and has been a foundation of my thinking and writing ever since, helping to shape both The Open Source Paradigm Shift and What is Web 2.0?

But this line has never seemed more prescient than today, in the new wave of software that blends mobile devices in the hands of more than one person, big data back ends, and a profound re-imagination of services, business processes, and interfaces. Yesterday’s announcement that 7,000 Starbucks locations now accept Square Wallet drives home just how much technology is changing the game for business. It isn’t just the web, big data, or even mobile, it’s the combination of them all into new systems of interaction between companies and their customers.

If you’ve never experienced the magic of walking into a coffee shop, having the cashier glance down at their iPad-based Square Register to verify your face and payment credentials already provided by your phone’s automatic check-in, and buying your coffee simply by confirming your name, you haven’t yet tasted the future.

Square Wallet and Square Register aren’t just mobile applications, they are a profound rethinking of the entire business process of buying something at a retail location. They combine not just one but two mobile applications, a cloud-based data backend with payment information, identity, and perhaps even your purchase preferences at a merchant you frequent, location-based check-in, and more, all woven into a seamless experience. Software above the level of a single device. Retail will never be the same again. Read more…

Comments: 15
Top Stories: March 19-23, 2012

Top Stories: March 19-23, 2012

Google Maps alternatives, inside Dart, and the upside of offline.

This week on O'Reilly: StreetEasy's Sebastian Delmont explained why his team left Google Maps behind, we looked at the ins and outs of the Dart programming platform, and Jim Stogdill considered the alternatives to always-on living.

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Why StreetEasy rolled its own maps

Why StreetEasy rolled its own maps

Sebastian Delmont on alternatives to Google Maps.

Google's decision to start charging for its Maps API is leading some companies to mull other options. In this interview, StreetEasy's Sebastian Delmont explains why and how his team made a change.

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