Where 2.0 Musings and Chickens and Lasers

Where20 Where 2.0, 2010 is over, so I figured I’d share a few of few of my thoughts about the show, the people and the industry. Overall, the show was the most highly attended yet growing year over year and topping 1100 registrants. It was an interesting mix of data providers, application developers and novelty acts which I’ll discuss in some detail below…

Night of the living base maps – While NAVTEQ has perennially been the data champ for all base maps created in the last 15 years, the wiki map creators generated much of the buzz at the show. OpenStreetMap has made huge strides in getting data for areas where other just don’t have it. One of the keynote sessions was about how within a few days Port of Prince was mapped out with extreme detail by user generate content from people on the ground using GPS. CloudMade was discussed in comparison to OpenStreetMap, but it seems OSM are the current darlings. Google’s map maker was shown in Michael Jones’ keynote when he compared their data to “Yahoo, MapQuest and the others” showing off the data user’s have added. Apparently, we (Bing Maps) have a new nickname. TeleAtlas was nowhere to be found…at least I didn’t see them. It would appear it’s power to the people when it comes to creating base map data and it will be important to see just what this means for the big 2 and who they choose to partner with.

NAVTEQLBSChocolateMore map apps – Map applications are proliferating like mad. Dennis Crowley from foursquare showed off foursquare, why people love it and how it’s generating revenue for businesses who use the couponing feature. GoWalla announced some key partnerships with their application for giving out prizes to random folks who check-in to Chipotle or are in search for Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 simply by being the lucky winner to check-in to the right location. Facebook made an appearance, but disappointed by not announcing anything location relevant and instead focused on why mobile is important to their users (Indonesia is in their top 5 countries with mobile usage because few users have PCs). NAVTEQ had their LBS Challenge finals at Where 2.0. I happened to be one of 12 judges and I was privy to see some really awesome map-based application (and, some not so awesome). Zos Communications’ Zhiing was one of my favorites with it’s ability to “Zhiing” people – sending location information about where you are or specify where to send location information to via MMS, Text or Email. FWIW, Cypress Solutions won the North American Challenge.


“The Others” – It seems that in terms of announcements, we (Bing Maps) might’ve stolen some thunder at Where 2.0 this year. I pushed out 5 announcements in just 18 hours and Blaise demoed most of them on stage. Probably the most buzzed announcement was the Bing Maps foursquare application which visualizes foursquare check-ins, badge awards, mayor coronations and tips. We announced a new rental property search Bing maps application for Oodle. Plus, we modified and moved the Bing Maps World Tour into the Bing Maps app gallery. We announced the release of some 6.4 million square kilometers of new and updated imagery. And, finally, we announced some release information about updates to Bing Maps. Oh, and I was lucky enough to host the Bing party at Fahrenheit in downtown San Jose which Tim O’Reilly himself attended. Posh. It seems most developers are still building on either GMaps or “The Others’” map APIs, but it was nice to see SimpleGeo launched a new set of APIs, Nokia’s Ovi Maps now letting more people experiment and MapQuest and Yahoo are sill hanging around.


Random acts of randomness – The plenary was surreal. I mean, seriously more than half of the speakers who each had 5 minutes had NOTHING to do with location…or, at least didn’t spend any of their 5 minutes discussing where it was relevant. The punch line to most of the show’s jokes was Martin Isenburg’s “Have Chickens, Need Lasers” session which was pretty much the most belligerent, incomprehensible session I’d ever seen. So, instead of making him the punch line of my jokes I invited him to my party and talked with him to understand WTF he was talking about. We chatted for a good 30 minutes and while he’s the self proclaimed “only green human being, God to anyone studying LIDAR and a broccoli evangelist” he actually had an interesting concept that he tried to fit in 5 minutes (rather unsuccessfully). He’s built the capability to stream LIDAR information in real time. This means that you can tune in to a place with streaming LIDAR to fully immerse yourself into that specific world from anywhere you can connect to the web. So, take a room full of chickens and place a 360 LIDAR sensor in the middle of the room and stream the readings over the web. User would be able to change the angle at which they’re viewing the chickens and even interact with the chickens. Now, of course, chickens was a nice cover up for the military implications this has for recreating a digital scan of a specific bunker, room, hideout, etc. for gathering reconnaissance information. Get a camera on top of that LIDAR and you’ve got a 3D stream of information coming back in real time. Microsoft’s Ultracam has these capabilities. I wonder if our Vexcel team in Austria worships him.


So, there you have it. Where 2.0 wasn’t a disappointment this year…and, I got a new foursquare badge to boot.

CP – Follow me on Twitter @ChrisPendleton

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