Yesterday I felt that Yahoo’s open geodata announcement was big because it finally signified one of the big search engines was taking the location-aware internet seriously. When I say location-aware internet, I’m talking about the web in the sense of sitting at home at your desktop. It’s a big deal because in the end it makes the web “smarter”, improving search results, delivering more locally relevant content to you, the end user, and as an end result for a company like Yahoo, better monetizing the results it delivers to you.
The one big problem with Yahoo’s GeoData API and Placemaker is that it’s not easy to use for the average person. It requires programming knowledge the majority of us don’t have. However, we can all install a simple browser plug-in such as those offered with Mozilla’s Firefox browser. This only requires a couple clicks of your mouse.
So, I was excited to hear this morning that Skyhook Wireless announced the Loki browser plug-in at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, California. Like any other plug-in it’s simple to install, and Loki works will all major browsers and operating systems. Furthermore, it doesn’t require a browser restart to complete the install, something that really bugs me about Firefox.
The Loki plug-in uses Skyhook’s WPS or Wi-Fi Positioning System to locate wireless access points in the vicinity of a visitor to a Loki-enabled website. So, for instance, MapQuest, a major online and mobile mapping platform (and a launch partner for the Loki plug-in), will automatically find your location when you visit its website via Wi-Fi spots near you, and deliver more locally contextual results right off the bat.
And while some will argue that GeoIP can already accomplish this, it’s not nearly as accurate and more importantly, it’s more difficult to implement.
You can check out Skyhook’s full press release and a list of launch partners after the cut.
MapQuest, Flickr, WeatherBug use Loki plug-in to auto-locate web site visitors
SAN JOSE, CA – May 21, 2009- Skyhook Wireless, provider of the patented Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) and the hybrid location system XPS, today announced at the O’Reilly Where 2.0 Conference the Loki plug-in for Web developers. MapQuest, Flickr and WeatherBug, online leaders in mapping, photo-sharing and weather, have all integrated Loki to auto-locate visitors.
The Loki plug-in works with all major Internet browsers and operating systems to determine the precise location of any Wi-Fi-enabled device instantly, given the user’s permission. Web developers can use visitor location information to personalize content, ease local searching, deliver localized ads and more.
“MapQuest consistently looks for ways to enhance our user experience and adding the Loki plug-in to our new Toolbar is an easy way to help users approximate their location quickly,” said Christian Dwyer, senior vice president and general manager of MapQuest. “By typing in http://www.mapquest.com/findme, users of MapQuest.com can also access maps near them and receive faster access to driving directions with pre-populated start locations.”
“The WeatherBug iPhone application has been extremely successful in part due to its ability to be location-aware. Loki enables us to instantly offer this same, rich experience to our desktop and laptop users and was incredibly simple to integrate,” said Chris Sloop, co-founder and CTO of WeatherBug.
Flickr has also integrated Loki into both their Map and Geotagging tools as the “Find my location” button. Loki allows them to instantly determine a user’s exact location and show them nearby, interesting photos from the over 500 million geotagged photos.
“Allowing any website to easily use precise location to filter content and to present locally relevant advertising has never been possible,” said Ryan Sarver, director of consumer products at Skyhook Wireless. “The Loki plug-in is a powerful new tool for web content that will change how web developers deliver information and applications.”
Skyhook Wireless has also partnered with many leading web sites representing several content categories such as local search, photo sharing, local news and friend finding. Other Loki plug-in launch partners include:
AllMenus.com (www.allmenus.com) – online restaurant menu directory
BrightKite (www.brightkite.com) – location-based social network
CitySquares (www.citysquares.com) – local city guide
CrazyMenu (www.crazymenu.com) – nearby restaurant and menu search site
drop.io (www.drop.io) – online private file sharing network
Flickr (www.flickr.com) – leading photo and video sharing site
IRL Connect (www.irlconnect.com) – location-based social network
Krillion (www.krillion.com) – local product search engine
Geocaching (www.geocaching.com) – worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure
Loopt (www.loopt.com) – location-based social network
MapQuest (www.mapquest.com) – leading online mapping and local search site
NearbyNow (www.nearbynow.com) – local product search engine
Outside.in (www.outside.in) – outside.in is a hyperlocal news and information service
Trapster (www.trapster.com) – speed trap sharing network
Praized (www.praized.com) – white-label local social networking platform
RadiusIM (www.radiusim.com) – online location-based IM platform
RedPlum (www.redplum.com) – coupon and deal search engine
Skout (www.skout.com) – location-based social network
TheFind (www.thefind.com) – local product search engine
Trapster (www.trapster.com) – speed trap sharing network
WeatherBug (www.weatherbug.com) – leading online weather site
WorkStreamer (www.workstreamer.com) – real-time enterprise social collaboration
About Skyhook Wireless
Founded in 2003, Skyhook Wireless has pioneered the development of the first hybrid positioning system to fully leverage Wi-Fi, GPS and cell towers delivering precise location data supporting the growing market for location-based services. Skyhook’s hybrid positioning system XPS requires no new hardware, works indoors and outdoors, provides an instant location and is more accurate than current technologies in congested downtown areas. Skyhook Wireless is headquartered in Boston, MA, and is privately held. Investors include RRE Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Intel Capital and CommonAngels. For more information visit www.skyhookwireless.com, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-314-9802.