Web 2.0 Expo: Adding “Where” to Mobile and Web Applications

Last session before lunch. Freaking hungry (no boiled eggs at breakie this morning). Might take off a bit early to get a jump on lunch and battery charging.

Presenter: Ryan Sarver

  • Context is about location — what’s nearby?
  • Location comes in different flavours (geocodes, street addresses, polygons, lat/longs, etc.)
    • also level of detail (at a specific point vs. city vs. neighbourhood)
    • Location names (e.g. SoMa) are also contextual — it might make sense in San Fran, but not in London
  • Markers on maps can be tricky, since the marker might not necessarily be where the person is (oh, how we know this one…)
  • my.loki.com shares location with friends (I think I have an account there… can’t remember)
  • geotargeting rules of thumb:
    • offer everything you can
    • degrade gracefully
    • allow the user to change it
    • know your users, know your use cases!
  • tip: if you’re building a site, work on lat/long (or geocode), not zip/address
  • where does location happen? client and network!
  • Fire Eagle links in with Dopplr to sync future destinations based on travel
  • desktop web profile
    • stationary sessions (single location lookups, initial hits)
    • gps and cell towers don’t work (no line of site, bad accuracy)
    • easier data entry
    • more complex data can be displayed
  • mobile profile
    • transient sessions (always moving)
    • indoors and outdoors (ip doesn’t work)
    • difficult data entry (keyboard’s a pain, so think shortcuts)
    • small screen size, low computing power — be “power-aware”
  • geolocation methods
    • triangulate (Wi-Fi, GPS, cell tower; GPS most accurate)
    • association
      • match an ip address to a physical location
      • best for city-level geotargetting
      • false positivies and only ~85% in the same State (let alone country)
      • Quova, IP2Location, MaxMind major vendors (validates that we chose a good one)
    • geo term extraction
      • resolve an arbitrary string into a geographical point or area (“food in cambridge” = “food” in “Cambridge, Mass., USA”)
      • metacarta query parser (metacarta.com)
      • urban mapping geomods (urbanmapping.com)
    • geocoding
      • resolving a geographically based string into a geographical point or area
      • several vendors for this (missed it due to a phone call)
  • Location in the browser
    • locationaware.org
    • navigator.getGeolocation()
    • Anyone else think this is making too big a hope? Sure, the W3C is working on a standard, but this strikes me as something that’ll never happen.
  • mobile location
    • iPhone Core Location API (WiFi, cell tower); not available in browser, but can be used through API
    • Symbian S60 Location API (GPS, A-GPS)
    • J2ME JSR-179 (GPS, device-specific)
    • Skyhook SDK (shyhookwireless.com)
    • WHERE Widgets (developer.where.com); made deals with many of the US carriers, and created a widget set to cover the functionality
  • Cell tower apps
    • Zone Tag (Yahoo)
    • OpenCellID
    • CellDB
  • Not a lot of international APIs, most are US-only

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