Geoloqi’s Amber Case Wants to Simplify LBS App-making
Location awareness is increasingly “baked into” everything developers build, but integrating geolocation elements and background tracking into apps can be laborious work. Portland, Ore.,-based Geoloqi, wants to simplify that process via its developer SDK, which provides tools to more easily build in location awareness. According to a recent release: “Geoloqi offers a complete stack of geolocation tools, including geo-fencing, messaging, security and analytics, that empowers the enterprise, government and developers to unlock the full potential of real-time location-based services and easily layer geolocation onto any device or application.”
Street Fight recently spoke with Geoloqi co-founder Amber Case (who is known in other circles as a “cyborg anthropologist“) about the big issues affecting location-sharing and GPS technology, where Geoloqi fits into the LBS ecosystem, and why geolocation is all about “utility.”
Battery drainage has been a major problem for apps that incorporate geolocation elements. How does Geoloqi address that?
There are a number of different ways. Some of the aspects of it are wrinkled down into binary so that the packing size of the server is relatively small. There’s also being able to see what content is in an area, what the area triggers, and being able to turn down or turn up the GPS based on what’s nearby and caching content locally to the device. Those are the main ones.
The main thing is, we’ve handled some aspects of the battery management process so that an end developer doesn’t have to build that out. They can — but it’s tedious… and most people, when they want to build location-based apps, they don’t want to build all of that from scratch.
Who have been your platform’s customers so far?
We have a bunch of developers that are trying it out already and they’re building apps. One of them already is getting ready to release their app into the store, so that should be exciting. They’re a company in France and when they found out we existed, they bothered us to get early data access. We also have an insurance company who is using it to give people better auto loan rates. There’s also TATE inc. which is a personnel-recovery provider. They have a lot of people in other countries and unsafe environments and they can track them and make sure they’re safe — it’s a lot of real-time location used for safety.
How is Geoloqi impacting or helping local businesses?
A lot of local businesses call us up and they’re really excited to use the service. The big issue is that there’s a lot of great small businesses around but nobody really knows where they are or they just go past them and not remember. So, giving something valuable to someone as they go by or working with a larger company to kind of get embedded in some sort of app that says: ‘Here’s some interesting stuff around you” is really useful. Of course, it’s going to take a little while before those
“[Location-awareness is] not necessarily about advertising or wanting to see where my friends are all the time, its about knowing where something is when you need to know.”
Geoloqi’s app was essentially a sample to promote your technology to other developers and companies. Has it caught on independently?
We didn’t promote it very much and surprisingly people downloaded it all over the world. Then what happened was carrier and enterprise and government developers started contacting us wanting to use it as a platform. They said, “can we either white label this app or use the platform behind it to build our own application?” That was interesting because it’s hard to have a revenue model with an app — but with an enterprise solution, it makes a lot more sense. The app was really fun because it’s free and we have a lot of people build layers. One person took a set of all the pinball locations in the United States and a layer so that if you turn it on, you can walk around town and get a location where a nearby pinball machine is.
So users can create data for the app?
Yeah. You can take any data set that has latitude longitude or geo-information and import it into the existing Geoloqi app and make a layer. We also made a visual editor, so if you’re not a programmer and say you wanted to make a historical layer of what Portland or Boulder was like in the 1800’s, you could go set up a bunch of geo-fences with that content and then save it as a layer and all the Geoloqi users could subscribe to it.
Where does Geoloqi fit into the ecosystem of location-based services?
We’re trying to solve some core issues that exist before the second generation of location services can really burst.
There’s this big issue where, if you want to make a location-based app either you’re making a location-based app that’s all about location — because the process is so long to build — or you want to make it as a feature. But, say some company wants to add location to their app, they can’t just hire a team of three or four and have them work on something and learn about battery management and learn about data storage or how to trigger a geo-fence.
So they’re coming to us and saying, “we really just want a pre-built solution and we want to be able to integrate it,” and that’s where we really come in. We want to save people time and have a good quality and well-documented product people can just use and be happy about.
What to you think is next for location-based services?
I want to be able to know, when I get a cab, when I get a pizza, when I have the Comcast person coming to either get a notification that they’re half an hour away and then fifteen minutes away and then five minutes away, so that they privacy of that truck is not given away. Or, I just want to be able to see them in real-time as they approach my house so I can meet them at home.
For me, it’s all about utility. I want to be able to have a geo-fence around my house and when I get home, my phone knows I’m at home and checks me in to the geo-fence automatically, and then tells my house to turn on the lights. It’s solving real-world problems that are annoying. You’ve seen the uncertainty in life, and it’s not necessarily about advertising or wanting to see where my friends are all the time, its about knowing where something is when you need to know.
Isa Jones is an intern at Street Fight.