Thursday, October 19, 2006

Loki - A new twist on Location Based Services

Traditionally, most software developers think of GPS or A-GPS as the preferred technology to pinpoint your location and deliver relevant content related to that location. Loki an application developed by Skyhook Wireless, uses the ubiquitousness of Wi-Fi networks to determine your location. Between the movement to provide wireless connectivity throughout a city (e.g. San Francisco, Philadelphia) and the integration of Wi-fi into portable devices (e.g. smartphones), the ability to use Wi-Fi to deliver location based services (LBS) has become a reality. In a recent article on LBS I authored for the PhoCusWright's GDX subscription service, I talked about the "walled garden" that exists at the wireless carriers which inhibits the advancement of broad distribution of applications. Despite the fact that the wireless carriers are gradually dismantling their "walled garden", companies such as Verizon and Cingular still make it difficult for travel software developers to use their network to deliver services that are specifically targeted to the business or leisure traveler.

Why is this important for the travel industry? The business and leisure traveler are by their very nature the best target for LBS. Business Travelers often are the early adopters of new technology. By enabling location identification through Wi-Fi access points, the traveler can benefit from a whole host of services. These may range from identifying restaurants in their immediate area to locating family members at a resort or theme park. These services can help suppliers and intermediaries bond with their customers while they are on their trip enhancing the travel experience and reinforcing the supplier or intermediary's brand.

Skyhook Wireless has recently opened up their API to allow software developers the ability to create location based applications on top of the Loki application. I encourage travel software companies to take a good look at Loki
. Here is a link to a
CNET video which describes the Loki service.


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