In my post on 21 October I talked mostly about the principles behind location-based marketing and “geo-fencing”. Since then I’ve learned a bit more about the ‘back-end’ side of things, having looked at some providers of location services and platforms.
Platforms such as Sparkle and SimpleGeo provide developers with the tools and APIs to easily build location based applications for a range of handset devices. The key technology which underpins these services is around identifying and locating mobile phone users, irrespective of the operating system of the handset in question (i.e. Android, iPhone or BlackBerry).
This technology helps to automate processes such as sending messages to mobile users as and when they enter or exit certain areas. Good examples are apps like MayorMaker (automatically checking users in and out of Foursquare) and TweetMover (sending automatic tweets whenever users enter a new neighbourhood).
The main things I learned about location-based technology are:
- Companies like Location Labs and MixerLab specialise in doing all the hard (technological) work for apps that tap into a user’s specific whereabouts.
- This technology opens up a suite of possible services and applications, varying from private location sharing to finding cheap dining deals based on a user’s location.
Main learning point: I feel that it’s still relatively early days in terms of a widespread adoption of sophisticated location-based services. However, the number of providers and developers who have delved into geo-fencing and location-based applications is growing rapidly. The underlying technology and tools will not only enable targeted advertising but also facilitate a more secure way of knowing where your friends or relatives are.
Related links for further learning: