menu

How Location-Based Services Can Enliven Cities [My Ideal City]

How Location-Based Services Can Enliven Cities [My Ideal City]
technology

PSFK talks to Brett Martin about how mobile technology platforms are using location to connect people in new and interesting ways.

PSFK Labs
  • 19 may 2013

As part of our MyIdealCity series looking at the future of cities, PSFK reached out to experts to get their take on key trends we’ve identified that are currently affecting urban environments. Brett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sonar, a mobile app that tells you when your friends and friends’ friends are nearby, revealing the hidden connections you might have otherwise missed. He spoke with PSFK.com about how mobile technology platforms are leveraging location as a key metric for helping citizens seamlessly access a host of services to help them better navigate their urban environments.

What impact do you see location-based applications having on social and economic vitality of cities generally?

Now that everyone carries a computer in their pocket, the offline world will become increasingly like the online one: measurable, customizable, personalized, and interactive.

I think it’s helpful to understand the underlying tectonic forces that drive these services. It’s simple really: mobile and the cloud. Mobile refers to the sensors in our pockets that continuously collect data from and share data with our environment, often in real time. The cloud is where all of the sensors report to, a brain that is geting smarter and smarter as it synthesizes all of the data ever created and captured. We spent the past 10 years uploading who we are, what we like, where we work, and who are friends are to the cloud, now we are downloading that data to our phones, and using it to personalize our view of the world around us. Dennis from Foursquare is spot on when he talks about building a Maurauder’s map.

Location is only part of the story though. What we really seek is context. Technologies like Sonar derive context by analyzing as many vectors as possible – location, place, mode of locomotion, friends nearby, previously stated intent, weather, time of day, etc. – to infer what you want, right here, right now.

Google knows how valuable intent is, and is unsurprisingly investing heavily in contextual computing. They are building new inputs (Glass wants real-time video/audio of the world) and outputs (Field Trip pushes places that it thinks you will find interesting). Hardware companies like Intel and Qualcom realize that the devices of the future will be cognizant of their surroundings, and are investing heavily in companies like Newaer, which helps your device discover and connect with nearby devices, and Gimbal, which enables app developers to build apps that are responsive to their physical environment. Today’s technologies are nascent but maturing quickly.

How are proximity based-services helping citizens more efficiently navigate their urban environments? Can you help us think of any social, economic or environmental implications?

Everything will occur at 10x the present speed. We often talk about productivity in the abstract – GDP growth, for instance – but with mobile tech it’s in plain sight. The concept of messaging ten friends, looking up directions, and making a reservation for dinner, while walking between meetings, is inconceivable to most of our parents. Historically, digital technologies have disconnected us from our immediate environment (I probably bumped into three people on the way to that meeting) but as HCIs become more natural and integrated (no, Glass isn’t there yet), we will recover some bandwidth to attend the here and now. But in the future, the here and now will be a seamless blend of physical and digital data. We are already simultaneously present in both the physical and digital worlds, we just aren’t fully conscious of it yet.

How are various match-matching applications positively affecting the development of cities on a larger scale? 

I’ve often said that Sonar brings the efficiency of online networking to offline networking by enabling our users to consider the online reputations, interests, and friends of the people in the room when deciding with whom they should strike up a physical conversation. This geo-social infrastructure has enabled hyper-local marketplaces for learning (Skillshare), lodging (AirBnB), or tasks (Zaarly).

What three things would you include in your ‘Ideal’ City?

Good gelato
Pretty girls
A right hand point break

I just want them to be easier to discover and connect with. ;)

Thanks Brett!

Sonar

Q. “What local services do you want to connect to on your phone?”

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site – or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #SensibleCity

proximity-services

Over the next 6 months, PSFK and a team of experts imagining the future of a city will be asking you what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Tweet us your ideas using the hashtag of the week and view all the submissions at the MyIdealCity site.

technology
Trending

Lyft Gives Free Rides To Those Who Have Had Too Much To Drink

Advertising
Syndicated Yesterday

Banned Books Week Urges People To Seek Out Controversial Works

Joining the annual celebration of the right to read, US author Jessica Herthel called for 'more information, more voices' to protect diversity

Augmented & Virtual Reality Yesterday

Outdoor Camp Presented In 360° VR By X Games Gold Medalist

The video features campers riding BMX trails, zip lining through the woods, and performing big-air jumps

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Yesterday

Boeing Wants Passengers To Control Their In-Flight Experience Through Their Phones

The airline manufacturer is embracing automation through a new generation of mobile travel apps

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

VR Surgery Videos Offer Interactive Medical Education

Dutch startup MDLinking hopes to globalize communication between students and medical care professionals with virtual reality content

Culture Yesterday

Use Twitter To Learn A New Language

tDict is an app that uses the social media platform to help you search for words in local dialects

Mobile Yesterday

This Startup Wants To Digitize The Loose Coins In Your Pocket

CoinOut is a new app that lets you save your extra change from cash transactions as electronic funds

Advertising Yesterday

McDonald’s Is Accepting Trash As Currency In Exchange For Burgers

An initiative in Stockholm is trying to keep streets clean while satisfying hunger

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Culture Yesterday

Google Is Using Virtual Paper Airplanes To Bring People Closer Together

The tech giant released an app that lets people throw their good wishes out into the world on the International Day of Peace

Advertising Yesterday

Get Paid For Traveling In San Francisco After Rush Hour

BART Perks rewards commuters who take early or late trains by giving them extra points to trade for money

Culture Yesterday

Artist Designs Covers For Books That Don’t Exist

Published by the fictional 'Specious Books,' the subversive works facilitate a conversation regarding the artistic integrity of graphic designers

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Food Yesterday

Bringing Food Innovation To America’s Crowded Milk Market

a2 Milk's Blake Waltrip, Chief Executive of the USA region, discusses how the distributor plans on bringing the popular drink for the dairy-sensitive to the States

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Financial Services Yesterday

Device Makes Digital Currency Feel Tangible

The concept gadget wants you to experience the highs and lows of spending money

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

NBC Is Planning To Stream The Presidential Debates In Virtual Reality

Partnering with AltspaceVR, the broadcaster offers another way for Americans to engage with the election season

No search results found.