COBI Connected Bike Project Debuts on Kickstarter

German start-up iCradle has taken the connected car concept and applied it to bikes. On the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, iCradle launched a smartphone mounting kit and an app that

Cobi offers a thumb operated controller, an automated front and backlight, a custom bell, a phone charger, and a theft alarm. The backlight turns red when breaking and blinks for right or left turns.

The mobile app manages music and phone calling, and offers turn-by turn navigation (using the TeleNav/Skobbler SDK with Openstreetmap), location sharing, a dedicated mountain biking interface and more.

COBI is also working with electric bikes; it is designed to support e-bike systems which offer a Bluetooth/ ANT+ wireless interface, or use a CAN-Bus for wired control.

The basic version of COBI costs $115 on Kickstarter (delivery expected in June 2015) and a more advanced system (including high capacity battery pack and the backlight) is $199.

Watch below Cobi’s promotional video made for Kickstarter:

CSR to Offer Indoor Location Technology SiRFusion as a SDK for Android

CSR today announced the launch of its SiRFusion Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android application developers willing to integrate indoor location technology.

The SDK will be running on Android version 4.4 or later and it will be available in the first quarter 2015.

SiRFusion combines real-time Wi-Fi signals, satellite positioning information, pedestrian dead reckoning, and the company’s cloud-based CSR Positioning Center to calculate accurate indoor location.

The system automatically crowd-sources a venue’s indoor Wi-Fi signatures, and it has also been architected to accommodate future proximity and location technologies such as Bluetooth Smart beacons, Wi-Fi Round Trip Time (RTT), and Indoor Messaging System (IMES).

The SDK will be running on Android version 4.4 or later and it will be available in the first quarter 2015.

While CSR is historically producing only location technologies for its hardware clients, it seems this SDK is willing to kickstart indoor location for consumers with a bottom up approach from the developer side.

Now that CSR has been acquired by Qualcomm it will be interesting to see how this SDK will fit into Qualcomm’s location technology portfolio (see more on that point here).

PathSense: Precise Location without GPS… and Battery Drain

Getting out of stealth mode today at the DEMO conference in the Silicon Valley, PathSense is a Carlsbad, California-based startup that wants to offer precise location without the battery drain experienced today in using GPS technology.

The promise of PathSense is to provide precise location with 90 percent less battery drain. the technology is based inertial navigation, sensor fusion, predictive routing, and a proprietary learning engine. The company has 3 patents pending on these developments.

This location service is likely to raise interest of app developers especially for precise background location which lacks the GPS accuracy.

The service is immediately available as a beta SDK for iOS or Android apps.

Business model

The company intends to seed the market with a free SDK for developers and license it for high usage and premium APIs. Pathsense also plans to sell location data to retail, energy, transportation, and advertising companies.

PathSense was founded by a veteran entrepreneur well known in the location-based start-up scene. Pete Tenereillo indeed already founded Trapster a service he sold to digital map maker NAVTEQ in 2010 after growing to 10 million users.

Tenereillo came up with the early idea of the technology when facing the battery drain problem of GPS-enabled app such as Trapster. He hired several people from his former team and went into a two years development window.

Update:

Watch below PathSense pitch at DEMO.

Point Inside Partner with Target for In-Store Navigation with App

In-store engagement solution vendor Point Inside and U.S. based big box retailer Target today announced that several new in-store navigation features are now live in the Target app (iOS and Android), a new version that was released on November 12.

New features include:

– Interactive maps overlay item locations as a pin on the store map, making it easier for guests to find products as they shop.

– Shopping lists provide a product’s aisle location when a guest is in store and link directly to the new, interactive maps.

– Type-ahead, auto-complete functionality allows guests to quickly add items to their shopping lists

– Interactive Black Friday maps will provide store layouts and doorbuster locations for Target’s Black Friday sale.

Point Inside is delivering its services to Target via its SaaS platform, StoreMode.

The company, which already worked with U.S. retailer Meijer and Lowe’s, forecasts that its platform “will be accessed by nearly 3 billion shopper interactions on more than 100 million devices through the mobile apps of Point Inside’s top retail partners by the end of 2014.“

Family Network Life360 Partners with Nest

Family network app Life360 announced that they are working on integration with the Nest smart thermostat.

Nest customers will be able to fully automate climate control based on family and location awareness. The thermostat will adjust automatically based on when the last family member leaves and when one of the family member is on its way to home, allowing users to stay comfortable and save energy at the same time.

The Life360 integration with Nest will be available for download starting next month on Android and iPhone.

Life360 has built partnerships with companies like BMW, ADT, SmartThings, and Samsung to position itself has a hub for family-related, location-aware information that can sync seamlessly and automate tasks with connected homes or connected car.

Apple Debuts Local Business Portal for Small U.S. Biz

Apple has started to operate a local business portal in the United States that allows local shop owners to add their location to Apple Maps, claim an existing business and update its data.

The platform allows local shops to disclose their precise location, opening hours, Facebook, Twitter Yelp and website addresses as well as classify themselves in one or several business categories.

The self-serving platform is available inside Apple Maps Connect which also includes, Indoor, the platform where large venues can add their indoor maps (read more here).

The platform is only available in the United States but it already allow to check data for other countries covered by Apple Maps, in a read-only mode.

Rather than completely relying on a data supplier such as Yelp, Apple is taking over the direct link with shop owners to form its POI database. This new channel will surely help to improve POI accuracy, something that is an important aspect in the overall perceived quality of its map.

This local business portal is likely to become an important tool for local shop owners. According to Comscore, there were 42 million adult users of Apple Maps last June (against 64.5 million for Google Maps mobile).

The ultimate question is whether Apple will be interested in the longer run to leverage this direct channel with shop owners to sell advertising. Let’s not forget that Apple is also running something called iAd.

Apple Has Difficulties to Keep Up with Indoor Map Interest from Venue Owners

Apple which now offers indoor location capabilities with iOS 8 (read here) has opened in July a service that offers venue owners to upload their building’s map data and scans Wi-Fi networks in order to enable indoor maps on Apple Maps app.

However it seems that this program has been completely overwhelmed by the number of demands which forced Apple to limit it to owners with venues having annual visitors in excess of 1 million per year!

See below the statement from Apple:

“Thank you for your interest in Apple’s new indoor positioning technology. We have received an overwhelming response on this service and we are prioritizing our efforts to focus on venues with the following attributes:

– Accessible to the general public

– Annual visitors in excess of 1 million per year

– Availability of complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps

– Enabled with Wi-Fi throughout

– Associated app is authorized by venue owner“

Locaid to Work with Danal to Use Location to Fight Financial Fraud

Mobile identity service vendor Danal has partnered with location service provider Locaid, to launch a set of mobile authentication products targeted towards financial institutions and enterprises.

This Mobile Identity platform allows banks and other financial institutions to confidently perform risk analysis on transaction attempts at retail Points-of-Sale (POS) locations and at foreign or infrequent bank ATMs. With the dual verification of phone location coupled with mobile identification, financial institutions can significantly reduce fraud.

Locaid provides a carrier-approved service to obtain a user’s phone location after attaining appropriate consent from the user.

"Our system is fully compliant with all carrier policies around consent and usage, thereby giving users full control and transparency to manage the way in which their location is accessed," commented Rip Gerber, the CEO of Locaid.

Danal Inc. is a subsidiary of KOSDAQ-listed Korean company Danal, a global provider of e-commerce mobile payments.

Google Maps: 1 Billion Monthly Users

A recent presentation from Ed Parsons, Geospatial Technologist at Google Research in London, gave a quick update about the massive presence of Google Maps on the web.

– 41% of Internet users worldwide use Google Maps services

– 1 Billion monthly users of Google Maps

– 30% of Google searches have local intent or geographic aspect

– 1 million third party websites using Google Maps APIs – more than 95% use free API. This actually grew from 800,000 developers in June 2012 and 350,000 in April 2010 (read here).

Watch the full presentation below:

More than 60M BLE Beacons to Be Sold by 2019

iBeacons and more generally Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons are the new hype for micro-location and proximity marketing and in a new report ABI Research forecasts the market to reach 60 million units sold by 2019.

Although beacon’s use cases in the retail industry are largely talked about, ABI Research believes that the opportunity goes well beyond.

“It may surprise many to see that retail is the smallest market covered in the report. In building terms, many stores are relatively small in comparison to a corporate office or hospital, while the items being tracked i.e. consumers, are already BLE-enabled through their smartphones, further limiting the number of beacons required,” said ABI Research Senior analyst Patrick Connolly.

ABI Research see connected home and personal asset tracking as having “huge potential“ for BLE beacons.

Beacon opportunity not in Hardware

“beacons have already been dropping significantly in price and while 60 million is an impressive number, this translates into less than $500 million in hardware revenue,“ ABI Research pointed out.

A large part of revenue will be made on software and services, whether in expanding the embedded functionalities of these beacons or on the cloud to monitor and manage networks of beacons.