New software ties in Web sites and location: Skyhook Wireless has released Loki 2.0, its revised toolbar for pulling a user's latitude and longitude based on the profile of nearby Wi-Fi networks and their various signal strengths. A connection to an active Wi-Fi network is required, as in the previous release. Skyhook has a massive, constantly updated profile of Wi-Fi signals in most cities in the US, Canada, and Australia, as well as some cities in Europe and soon in Asia.
Morgan said that the company looks to leverage this Web-based programming interface to allow firms to serve extremely local advertising. "There's a real opportunity for these newer ad networks that are building relationships with" yellow page-like companies, Morgan said. Local advertising, dominated by local newspaper, radio, and television, is seen as the last nut--and a big nut at that--for firms like Google, Microsoft, and others to track. (Just a few weeks ago, I might have written Google, DoubleClick, and aQuantive, but that landscape just had a seismic shift.)
Skyhook also has a Channels library (Windows only support at the moment) that allows a user to prefill information on Web sites that aren't Loki-enabled by pulling Skyhook location information and formatting it correctly for a form on a Web site.
For photography, Morgan sees a great boon where users would be able to upload their photographs and choose to have them geotagged--coded with a latitude and longitude--of their current location. Flickr.com and other services support geotagging, and a small number of cameras and add-on peripherals allow GPS-based location tagging. Morgan said Skyhook is working with eyeFi, a firm that has embedded Wi-Fi for file transfer into a 1 GB Secure Digital card that will work with any camera. In a combination of the two firms' tools, "When you take a picture, [our software] does a scan, adds the location, and uploads it to Flickr," Morgan said.
Morgan said the firm had seen 4m location lookups since launch, and has achieved Wi-Fi location coverage for 70 percent of the US population. They're nearing 70 percent in Canada and Australia, and recently finished scanning London, Amsterdam, and Barcelona, with Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong coming in June. The company continuously drives major cities to collect new data, and their software provides information each time a user performs a lookup to calibrate and extend the firm's own records.
The 2.0 toolbar with Channels support is available for Windows XP for Firefox 1.5 and later and Internet Explorer. Support for the developer tools is available for Mac OS X 10.4 with Firefox 2, and Windows Mobile. A toolbar for Mac OS X and for Windows Vista is forthcoming. The software is free.