Are We There Yet?
When you can programmatically determine location, you can use that information in simple or sophisticated ways. LocationLabs, for instance, has created what it calls geofencing technology. Agarwal explains that by understanding when you cross certain geographical boundaries you are in a place, and by the same token, understanding when you leave those boundaries. He says that Raizlabs has created a way to automate the check-in/checkout process on foursquare using this technology.
"Mayor Maker builds on Foursquare's open API, taking Foursquare a step further, by offering an automatic check-in-and then creating the check-out [automatically]. The app uses Geofencing, a virtual boundary around an area. Mayor Maker's checkout option is particularly compelling, since it captures how long a consumer lingers in a place."
However, this is just building on the "I'm here" notion. What happens when you venture further? mFoundry built its business on the idea of using location to help banks and merchants reach their customers wherever they are. Drew Sievers, CEO and co-founder at mFoundry, explains how this works. "All of our products leverage location in one way or another. For mobile banking, we use the phone's built-in location systems to help users find bank branches and ATMs. For our retail work with Starbucks, we use the phone's location systems to help users find the nearest Starbucks. Moving forward, we will be adding more location-relevant features around offers and opportunities for both banks and retailers."
This begins to provide more useful information for users. When you connect it to other information it grows increasingly interesting. Take Foodspotting, for example, a service that helps you find food you like wherever you are. Alexa Andrzejewski, Foodspotting's co-founder and CEO, says when you connect this to other services, it increases the power of the information.
"Foodspotting relies on GPS technology built into the iPhone, and soon Android. This is because the location of a user is what makes our sightings valuable data, helping them find the best foods in their area immediately. Additionally, with the current APIs available to integrate with other social networks and services, Foodspotting becomes a richer experience for our users, allowing them to check-in to Foursquare, tweet about their sightings and update their status on Facebook, all through the same interface," she explains.
But perhaps the most sophisticated approach of the bunch is goHow, an application built by SDL and SapientNitro for Denver International Airport, which uses location technologies to provide you with information, real-time updates, and special offers from merchants as you move through the airport.
This provides a way for merchants to target promotions based on gate location and time of day and even offer real-time user merchant ratings and reviews. Robert Carroll, CMO of SDL's Web Content Management Solutions in North America, says there is real value in this approach. He offers this example: "If you are a business traveler (road-warrior) in the airport during a delay or an extended layover, possibly a neck massage, or a meal with free wireless may be exactly what you desire. The suggestion of these options at the right time via a mobile medium will help the traveler quickly engage in activities that they desire-whether it be parking, shopping or surfing the web."