This week is the big Search Engines Strategy Conference 2008 here in NYC. I attended its first day today joining a roomful of online marketers trying to keep up to date with everything there is to know about search marketing. I couldn't help but wondered into a session called "Mobile Local Search: Finding the Way". In this session, a panel of four mobile technology firms talked briefly about their services and point-of-view on the mobile experience in local search.
I was surprised to learn about Skyhook Wireless and it's involvement of iPhone's "Locate Me" functionality. For those unfamiliar, iPhone uses one of their hybrid positioning system (XPS) which uses cell-tower IDs and WiFi locations of other iPhone users nearby to triangulate your location with GPS-like accuracy. I had assumed the technology was a by-product of Google-Apple partnership; in the mean while, it was the hard work at Skyhook Wireless deploying 400+ vans covering up to 1.7M miles scanning the streets of America to capture access points. To this date, they have pin-pointed 33M+ WiFi APs in order to give the precision of GPS navigator. They've shown a couple of slides on the APs-mashup over S.F. and Manhattan; basically the entire map is covered by millions of WiFi hotspots. They have plans to expanding this technology to other countries.
Ryan Sarver, Director of Consumer Products, during the conference noted that this technology still has more room to grow and improve. Today, we are able to find our exact location, tomorrow we should expect alerts and notifications for people around us (ie. if you child is wondering off a proximity, you can be notified). Personally, I've seen this technology in action over my iPhone and I think this company is going places!