Geosmart awards aim for location services boost

Geosmart awards aim for location services boost

Map provider Geosmart is launching an awards night in a bid to hasten the local development of location-based services (LBS).

These are applications running on cellphones or other portable devices, offering services of interest based on the user’s location, which is transmitted via embedded GPS chips and the telecommunications network.

The Location Innovation Awards offers developers and marketers the chance to create LBS concepts and applications across four categories - social networking, proximity-based marketing, location-based service games, and AA Maps widgets. The overall winner will win a trip to the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose in May.

Geosmart business development manager Luigi Cappel says the overseas market for location-aware applications and proximity-based marketing is huge and getting bigger, but there are very few services available locally.

However, he says the technology will become commonplace in four to five years, and sees clear benefits for the domestic tourism industry, telcos, marketers and his own company.

“I can see every PR and marketing company and advertising agency wanting to get into this. Travel and tourism is also a huge opportunity. We’re owned by the AA and they’re working hard to get people to do tourism things in New Zealand.”

Telecom and Vodafone could also generate revenue from location-based services, but haven’t currently activated the technology necessary for detection of a mobile device’s location, Cappel says.

He says CDMA phones manufactured for the US market have GPS chips that are traceable, and most brands have at least one model which incorporate GPS, but Telecom hasn’t enabled access to the chips in New Zealand. Vodafone also doesn’t provide its internationally-available triangulation technology here, which would enable such detection, Cappel says.

“Part of my motivation [for the awards] is if the telcos realise the interest and the potential value of the technology they’ll switch on access to the technologies that make it possible for mass adoption, and for the phone to be aware of its location.”

If services are developed for devices where the location is not automatically transmitted, device users can text a code to specify their location, he says.

The competition dictates developers must use at least one of GeoSmart’s APIs (application programming interface) or web services, however the development platform and type of device is open.

Cappel stresses the competition is not just for developers, as the minimum requirement is a concept rather than an application build.

Prizes will be awarded at the Wireless and Broadband Forum’s Convergence 2009 event in Auckland next April.

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