Creating A Living Map Of Our Daily Existence [PSFK SEATTLE]

Creating A Living Map Of Our Daily Existence [PSFK SEATTLE]

quadstreaker is a location-based iOS app that creates a colorful, easy to follow visual history of a user’s movement over time.

  • 5 may 2013

Building up to our PSFK SEATTLE event on May 10th, we’re interviewing the creators and thought leaders who will be sharing their latest ideas with us. Scott Kendall is the creator of quadstreaker, a location-based iOS app that creates a colorful, easy to follow visual history of a user’s movement over time. The app divides the world into ‘Quads’ – small square units that fill in with colors as users explore new areas – encouraging users to get out of their comfort zones and traverse their unfamiliar surroundings.

How did you come up with the idea for quadstreaker?

quadstreaker grew out of a simple idea I wanted to see ever since I was a kid: a huge, comprehensive map of your lifetime exploration. I wanted a visually stunning map that would automatically grow in richness as I explored the world… and spur me to explore even more. For years I kept being pulled back to the idea but always the technology wasn’t there. In Oct 2011 that all changed when Apple released iOS5 with some key improvements to the iPhone’s location technology that finally made it possible to create this kind of comprehensive life map effortlessly in the background. I’ve been cranking on quadstreaker since then!

Given the abundance of geo-location apps on the market, what separates quadstreaker from other location tracking apps?

The biggest differentiator is the psychology behind it. quadstreaker doubles-down on giving you a sense of progress and a sense of completion as you move around, not on navigation, people discovery, or providing recommendations like the many location apps focused on those things. It breaks exploration into achievable goals that can start in your neighborhood and expand across the globe. The big enabler of this is the Quad — a square area that colors in on your map as you move around. It’s a simple, universal unit that quantifies your progress as you explore anywhere in the world. Seeing a new Quad color in on your map feels like you’re checking it off a list — and gives you a strong sense of completion.


Forced to put quadstreaker in a category in the App Store, I picked Travel. But this isn’t quite right since what we normally think of as travel is probably less than 5% of most people’s yearly movement… and quadstreaker aims to collect the full 100%. Your daily commute, your trip to the grocery store, all the other little trips around where you live: taken together they’re a big part of your life’s exploration that’s largely slipping through the cracks. quadstreaker is a different animal than other travel apps because it instills the spirit of exploration into the 95% of your life outside of vacations.

Ideally, what do you want people to get out of their time using quadstreaker?

If you use quadstreaker for a while, you’ll start to build up this amazing visualization of where you’ve been. You’ll also collect insightful stats about your explorations. And you’ll be able to see all of this for your friends too. The longer you use quadstreaker, the more these assets will grow in meaning and importance. They’ll help answer interesting questions like: how much of my city have I explored? when did I last go somewhere? which of my friends have been here too? where haven’t I been?

But more important than the endgame is the journey. Seeing your map color in over time as you explore new places is the little carrot of satisfaction that I want people to get out of quadstreaker every time they go somewhere. quadstreaker aims to turn every day of your life into a rewarding exploration experience, but outside of that if it can get you to go a step further, explore a bit more, and interact more with the real-world, that’s a success.

What has been the best part of the development process? What has been the biggest challenge?

I love maps, and quadstreaker’s DNA is maps. As I once heard, a map is the single thing on a piece of paper that can hold your attention the longest. Now imagine how long a 15th century explorer would have pored over Google Earth. That’s kind of like me, I can spend hours surfing around in it. The world is soooo huge and diverse. Working on quadstreaker has been an amazing opportunity to dig into and pore over maps of places all over the world. Strategizing how best to create a virtual gameboard of exploration out of something as big and complex as Earth has been exhilarating and ongoing challenge.


The biggest challenge we’ve faced so far has been creating a true always-on app experience that’s battery-friendly. Very few people have tried to create always-on apps so far; it’s a really different paradigm. Our first beta testers back in Feb 2012 made it clear that battery is sacred when they uninstalled our app after a few days. So back then we made a decision to start a deep dive into battery optimization that eventually consumed months of effort. We really peeled the onion on this one… we’re doing a lot of proprietary stuff optimized specifically for how people move. Finally we have quadstreaker running all day on a single charge in the vast majority of movement scenarios. Hardest thing we’ve done so far.

How do you see the quadstreaker experience evolving over time?

quadstreaker aims to be the steward of your life’s explorations. Some major enhancements are in development now that help advance toward this vision but at the same time we need to keep improving the basic functionality of the app. One of the major themes we’re focused on is making it a truly social experience, not just a bunch of silos of location data tied together by friend relationships. We see a ton of potential for innovation here.

Thanks Scott! Meet him May 10th at PSFK SEATTLE.

2013-seattle-article banner

Visit PSFK SEATTLE to see who else is speaking and click below to buy tickets.


Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Yesterday

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Yesterday

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Yesterday

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion Yesterday

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times


Bertrand Charrier

Architecture Design, Temporary Architecture Installations

Syndicated Yesterday

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Yesterday

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

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 august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Yesterday

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Yesterday

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

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

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design Yesterday

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Yesterday

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Yesterday

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.