Minority Report meets The Terminal with NewAer and American Airlines

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Like many business travelers, I fly hundreds of thousands of miles per year to meetings, conferences, never-enough vacation and holiday family gatherings. We have most airport codes memorized, and the Great Circle Mapper shows friends how ridiculous the travel months are, as the bird flies so they say.

Even though my flights are a “sequence of one-way destinations” that differ, one thing that stays the same, besides bad airport food, is terminal riddled eye-charts, whose monitors list flights along with gates and departure times. Worse are code-share flights, or those where two airlines use the same airplane under differing flight numbers, requiring travelers to wait for the scrolling information between the two to confirm a gate.
Gate infromation Windows error
We at NewAer dream of a world where the signage in the airport will “see us” via our wearable or mobile phone’s “beacon” and message to us. We want the right information, at the right place and the right time automatically like a concierge would, such as “Dave, you’ve landed at gate B7, which is right next to your favorite coffee spot at B5, and you’ve got 30 minutes to get to B12 before boarding for your connection to Dallas on Flight 2701!” Or simply, “Welcome to San Francisco! You can pick up your bags at C7 on the lower level, and your favorite Zinfandel is down the hall at the wine bar on the left.”

This road warrier’s dream became a reality thanks to our Kiosk product, and teaming up with Four Winds Interactive
along with the LG Display group, to build Proximity Signage for American Airlines under the Wearable World in-flight (ok, so technically we did our debugging in the air) hackathon.

NewAer Proximity Signage - PaxInfo

Engadget’s Brad Molen explained the vision and even tapped into privacy concerns a bit, something that we have cared about since before writing a line of code for the product: “To address privacy concerns, as soon as you walk by the sign, the personal messages are deleted and replaced with a generic screen.”

The Wall Street Journal covered our dream in Scott McCartney’s section called The Middle Seat, my worst nightmare of flying. The July 17th 2014 paper’s front-page story captures our vision: “I walk up to the sign and it knows me,” where to be and how much time I have to get there.

Ironically, I write this at 30,000 feet on yet another flight, to yet another conference and I cannot wait for our technology to be deployed at the next airport that you and I land at. And I hope that they have TSA PreCheck…

The original Engadget and Wall Street Journal stories are captured as PDFs below:

This Cross-Country Flight Is the Future of Flying – WSJ NewAer Proximity

Hacking the friendly skies – creating apps for wearables at 36000 feet – Engadget NewAer Proximity

Unilever & Magnum + NewAer bring you the digital ice-cream social.

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In February we announced our partnership with Unilever and now we can state which one of our favorite brands that it’s with, Magnum Ice Cream! It’s a digital marketing first: a CPG brand launching a P2P beacon strategy vs. a retailer. Before diving into how the campaign works with the video below, here’s a recap of beacon technology in marketing today.

Even with NewAer’s invention of any “beaconing radio as an action” nearly five years ago, the beacon world is still in its infancy and rough around the edges. Apple’s iBeacon is just one year old and the most well-known beacon proponent, and to our belief, the few retailers and stadiums currently using it do so via “spammy” experiences. Each time you walk by a beacon, it triggers your phone to create a message of the iBeacon’s intent within an application.

All beacons of 2014

The state of the beacon marketplace today.

Think about it like this; when your phone vibrates, you expect it to be a phone call, text message or an application you’ve permitted to disrupt your personal space digitally. Now amplify this with a new type of walk-by spam, where a second pass by an iBeacon brings up the same message. With iBeacon’s current lack of silencing second events (we call this “flapping,” like a door banging in the breeze) they continue to pop up as new inbound messages. We knew from the start of NewAer that we had to eliminate that while putting the power of the technology into the consumer’s hands.

Summer is here – so what better way to illustrate our automagical, non-intrusive technology than via an ice cream social with a twist?

With the forthcoming Unilever mPulse application, debuting in London as part of the 25th anniversary of Magnum ice cream and powered by the NewAer Proximity Platform SDK, will notify you when a friend is nearby, helping to create a spontaneous rendezvous. This alert is similar to a text message from a friend asking to meet, except it happens automatically via our engine. When there is an ice cream cooler nearby you and your friends, that message gets relayed as well. What’s special for consumers, and critical to marketers, is that we’re creating opportunities to connect with friends instead of a barrage of one-way marketing. Equally critical is the ability to turn off your device beaconing if you want to “go stealth” for some alone time. Naturally, mPulse does that too.

Working with Unilever’s agency Karamarama we came up with the ultimate app for connecting and reimagining the ice cream social – one that is powered by NewAer’s SDK of invisible bits, to create impulsive unexpected connections. Only NewAer could accomplish such a sophisticated campaign (yes, even Apple’s iBeacon cannot) as we are the only company in the space who specializes in making mobile devices like tablets and smartphones themselves communicate as beacons.

The announcement of NewAer partnering with the Unilever Foundry:

Last week we were honored to attend Cannes-Lions as guests of Unilever where CMO Keith Weed generated huge online buzz when he took the stage to discuss their innovation in consumer marketing, with their partnership video featuring NewAer. The opportunities for magical consumer moments driven by mobile technology are endless, and it seems that the trade press is beginning to realize that too.

In sum, ice cream bars never tasted so good! We hope to digitally run into friends in London when we launch in late July, and with the mPulse app, you will too!

Our 2014 European Customer Tour!

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We’ve been like kids in a candy store lately and wanted to share some of the big wins that we have had and share upcoming events that you can get involved with too!

NewAer & Unilever Kick Off Consumer Campaign:

In April, we kicked off our project with Unilever in London, which will leverage proximity ranging between fixed beacons as well as handsets that have downloaded their app powered by NewAer’s Proximity Platform.  This will be the first time that a consumer product leverages our “better than iBeacon” framework to enable devices to communicate with one another using our SDK in addition to the traditional application triggering with fixed iBeacons.  More on that to come!

2nd Patent Awarded:

We were given a notice of allowance for our 2nd patent around determining a virtual location based upon scanned wireless signals.  This is key to our automation engine driving a “state change” or creating some type of action either on your device or in the cloud based upon seeing a known beacon at a specific signal strength.  For a young company like ours to have two patents so quickly is a testament to our early forward vision and our swift-moving intellectual property team.  Congratulations guys!

Builders and Hacker Demos:

We spent a few days at MIT’s Media Lab Member Event media.mit.edu/events/spring14/day1 and left both inspired and motivated.  We met some teams doing some radically forward thinking projects, many of which were excited about our framework for machine-to-machine discovery.

After a chilly visit to the East coast, we headed to our favorite DIY event called Maker Faire www.makerfaire.com, where 150,000 people come to see what thousands of others built from their workbench or garage.  The quality of some of the vehicles blew us away, but we were most excited about the kids there who had built communication circuits, robots, and even a pneumatic actuated bench that was synchronized to a roller coaster ride!  Keep it up future inventors!

Lego Jeep Maker Faire smaller

Partner Demo Days:
The first week of June we are in Dublin at our telecom partner Alcatel-Lucent IMS User’s conference, where we show our “one number to any destination” routing using proximity and their IMS infrastructure www.alcatel-lucent.com/products/converged-telephony-server with CTS and the Self Care API. A video of the debut of it is here.

For the second week we head to London for the Europa’s theeuropas.com, then Founders Forum www.foundersforum.eu as we ramp up for London Technology Week londontechnologyweek.co.uk. We are sponsoring a hackathon with the Sand Pit Labs hacximity.org where we’re giving an early look at our 4.0 SDK that allows peer-to-peer communication over unpaired BlueTooth Smart links and a prize for the best use of our SDK! Sign up for the hackathon here!

For the last half of June, we head to Berlin for our investor T-Venture www.t-venture.com with their T-Labs and T-Systems division around next generation automotive showrooms and retail traffic measuring and marketing.

We wrap our month of demos and meetings Europe at the 5th year anniversary of the MLOVE ConFestival mlove.com/confestival/ were we will share stories of the Maker Faire and the future of all things triggered from any beacon!

We’d love to meet you at the events above, so let us know if you’re going to be in the mix above too, and lets talk about our better than iBeacon framework.  We would love to see how it can tie into your applications or infrastructure!

MWC, SXSW and CeBIT demos and acronyms!

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Dave presenting at 4YFN GSMA Barcelona

Dave presenting at 4YFN GSMA Barcelona

At Mobile World Congress AKA MWC, we pitched along side several startups at the SWELL innovation awards, where we won their Innovation award.

That win pushed us to a second round in front of a room full of executives from Unilever, the number two advertiser in the world, with brands like Axe, Dove and Magnum ice cream bars.  We pitched them on the future of marketing on mobile devices, with automated messaging around our favorite topic, proximity communications.  It was thrilling to have such a large audience and see them share in our excitement.

Our vision for connecting people together along with places where their brands are able to be purchased resonated with their top executives as we were chosen in the top 7 of four-hundred submissions to be a part of the Unilever Go Global program and cannot wait to give you further announcements on our joint product launch!  Because of our presentation, we were awarded a pilot contract one of the global giant’s brands to create a next generation proximity application for them.

This news comes after our quick stop to our favorite geek spring break event, South By Southwest – AKA SXSW where we presented our file-sharing product at demo showcases like the SWELL Austin event!  Thanks for having us back for two events in a row gang!  We also had a get-together with our investor Intel Capital, and a handful of their startup posse at Swift’s Attic, which was a great break from the rain on Saturday afternoon!

We bypassed the food trucks one night, for a delicious Texas steak dinner with our friends at PayPal, and hung with the Bluetooth SIG another evening where the term BTLE Bluetooth 4.0 and BLE was officially renamed Bluetooth Smart.  Thank you for simplifying the messaging gang!  At the Bluetooth meetup, we stressed that companies and app developers need to secure communications over wireless radios between devices, as any of this data can be captured “in flight” and needs to obfuscate usernames, identity tokens and URLS to identities like photo URLs.  Our proximity communications SDK helps those who are not experts in the “wireless data in motion” not have to worry about private data exposure, which could hamper the very industry, others are just getting started in.

This week, we were at CeBIT AKA Centrum für Büroautomation, Informationstechnologie ind Telekommunikation which is the worlds largest computer expo, spanning 5 million sq feet and more than 200,000 attendees.  Here we debuted proximity in automotive retail showrooms and will have more to come on that as the weeks progress!

That’s a snapshot of our past few weeks at a glance, and we’re so thankful for the wins and proud of what we’ve accomplished – but we want to see how you are inspired by our engine, so check out our NewAer.com/Share application which uses our proximity platform SDK to automate actions based upon nearby radio waves and show us what you have for an app idea.

It’s showtime at Mobile World Congress 2014

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Mobile is heating up in Europe!  In 2011, we made our first trip to Barcelona to debut our all radio detecting Proximity Platform.  This act kicked the doors wide open to partnerships with Alcatel-Lucent for the debut of next generation call routing at the following CES and a relationship with the Intel software team, which was a precursor to their strategic investment in our company the following year.

This year we have teamed up with that same Software team from Intel to bring in-proximity device discovery to their Common Connectivity Framework (called CCF to those in the know)  which debuts at the WIPJam hackathon from the 24th through 26th.

MWC Venu

MWC Venue in Barcelona

NewAer is a great addition to Intel’s latest CCF framework for peer-to-peer communication. By leveraging the power of the NewAer Proximity Platform for discovery, and the new CCF communication node API you can easily build applications to leverage both proximity discovery and peer-to-peer communication. It is a snap to wire the NewAer API to the CCF discovery node system and unlock use cases like proximity based messaging or file transfer. Just a few lines of code are required to tie these two frameworks together to great result. An example of the simplicity of this on Android is at the end of this post.

In addition to the WIPJam event with Intel, we are presenting some of our applications like Share at the Four Years From Now (4YFN) SWELL Startup competition on February 25th.  Our good friends atWearableWorld.co are also having a Wearable Wednesday event on, you guessed it, Wednesday.

Additionally, we want to make sure you know about Intel’s Code for Good campaign to help connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth.  Even if they do not have access to the Internet. http://software.intel.com/codeforgood

All week we will be tweeting what we are up to at www.twitter.com/newaer and Intel Eventshttp://twitter.com/intelevents will be at their handle.

Before we sign off, Wired Magazine UK published our story on how the Internet began and how it has now evolved.  We follow that with the world moving towards devices as beacons, from Bluetooth 2.0 to modern BTLE, WiFi, cellular tower or even the upcoming LTE Direct, nicknamed LTE-D.  Our favorite quote from the story is “Why couldn’t we create valuable experiences from discovery of devices nearby, without the need to connect to them?”  That is how NewAer was born!

You can read it online here:  http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/02/ideas-bank/yes-your-wireless-devices-shall-connect-seamlessly

And now that snippet of code that I promised you!

Here is how you enable in-proximity connections in Android between CCF and companion nodes via NewAer…   This could enable “AirDrop” functionality on Android, so cut, paste and hack away!

private void initializeNewAer() { // Wire device status to discovery node creation NAPlatform.get(this).registerDeviceStatusListener(new NADeviceStatusListener() { @Override public void onInRange(NADevice device) { if (device.getType() == NADeviceType.NEWAREA) { try { createOrJoinDN(device.getId()); } catch (StcException e) { Log.e(TAG, e); } } } @Override public void onOutOfRange(NADevice device) { if (device.getType() == NADeviceType.NEWAREA) { leaveDN(device.getId()); } } @Override public void onUnknown(NADevice device) { // Do nothing. } }); // Join any areas we are in range for already. for (NADevice device : NADevice.getAllUntaggedByType(this, NADeviceType.NEWAREA)) { try { if (device.getStatus() == NADeviceStatus.IN_RANGE) { createOrJoinDN(device.getId()); } } catch (StcException e) { Log.e(TAG, e); } } } private void createDN(String nodeName) throws StcException { if(validateCloudServerStatus()){ ccfService.getSTCLib().createDiscoveryNode(nodeName, EnumSet.of(NodeFlags.PUBLISH)); } } private void createOrJoinDN(String id) throws StcException { try { createDN(id); } catch (StcException e) { joinDN(id); } } private void joinDN(String nodeName) throws StcException { if(validateCloudServerStatus()){ ccfService.getSTCLib().joinDiscoveryNode(nodeName, EnumSet.of(NodeFlags.PUBLISH)); } } private void leaveDN(String value) { try { if(validateCloudServerStatus()){ ccfService.getSTCLib().leaveDiscoveryNode(value, EnumSet.of(NodeFlags.PUBLISH)); } } catch (StcException e) { Log.e(TAG, e); } }

Finally, our blog makes a move from Blogger to our own site.  We thank Google for years of hosted content, and look forward to this new platform!

NewAer 3.0 SDK Release at CES 2014

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So you just scored the latest gadgets for Christmas and a couple weeks later they’re obsolete. Happy New Year to you! This birth/rebirth is thanks to the annual technology pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Association CES event. 150,000 people grab sneak peeks at 300,000 electronic gadgets which are better, lighter and faster than the ones you just asked for. While this show is really all about the gadgets, we’ve been known to leverage CES to launch software like Boxee in 2008 (who were later acquired by Samsung in 2013.)
This year, the show is buzzing with Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) in the form of watches, heart rate monitors, smoke alarms, keyfobs and of course beacons….beacons, beacons – even CES organizers are using show floor beacons to connect to the CES App. It’s exciting to finally see our predictions realized – these beacons will be commoditized, and real value is in the software that enables them to make powerful automatic interactions vs “pop-up” warnings or marketing nags. 

Response from partners at CES has been overwhelmingly positive, because we’re actually a step ahead of iBeacon. The NewAer Proximity Platform SDK now includes our proprietary cloud fingerprinting technology which can read any beaconing radio, from Cellular to WiFi to Bluetooth 2.0 or BTLE. This is the technology we used to enable our amazing file sharing app, Share. We have repacked this technology behind Share and are now delivering it as part of our SDK.  Using this back-end we are able to provide the FIRST and ONLY device-to-device (as in phone to phone – not just iBeacon to phone) proximity software that is works across Android and iPhone handsets or tablets, without costly battery consuming external hardware beacons. It even works with Bluetooth turned off. Try to do that with iBeacons! 

These features are provided when using the two new scan types that we have added in this week’s 3.0 release, launching at CES: NewAer Devices and NewAer Areas. 

Thanks to feedback at our 2013 hackathons, this release features a simplified scanner interface with just four scan types: 

1) Generic Scan - Gives access to all locally visible devices the hardware and OS allow, including: WiFi, Bluetooth, BTLE, NFC and Cell Towers. 

2) Service Scan – Gives access to Bonjour services on your local WiFi or Bluetooth. 

3) NewAer Device – Gives access to devices in proximity running your applications, regardless of platform. 

4) NewAer Area – Provides an identifier for an elastic physical area. Think of it as a “proximity group,” which can easily be used to create proximity chat rooms or social media connections with anyone  nearby. 

We have also added the ability for different apps from the same developer to see NewAer Devices from either application when in proximity.  This means that you can now declare that two of your NewAer enabled apps are “friends” using our self-serve SDK portal and they will see NewAer Devices with the same identifier across both applications. 

This NewAer 3.0 SDK fixes a huge limitation of iBeacon where one beacon can only speak to one application. Note that we believe in a user’s control over his or her privacy and we firewall off apps from different vendors, preventing them from seeing one another. We also can shut down those who use our SDK and might abuse this feature. 

Step into the future of cross-platform proximity using the NewAer SDK and see what proximity enhancing your applications can do for your users. 

On more thing!  If you are in the United Kingdom, grab the January 2014 issue of Wired magazine to read our story on the future of wireless called “Your wireless devices shall connect seamlessly.”  We will share it here when it’s posted to the online world in the coming weeks.  For now, it’s on newsstands only! 

-Dave and the NewAer Proximity engineering team

The In-Store Experience in 2014

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As Tom Cruise walked through the mall in the blockbuster film “Minority Report” advertisements scanned and recognized his eyes, triggering messaging that to spoke directly to him – asking questions of prior purchases. The NewAer team often uses this scene for inspiration – the penultimate in passive custom engagement driven by technology and uniquely delivered to a store guest.  It’s futuristic, yet recalls a time when store owners actually knew their customers, what they liked and what they’d purchased previously.


Today in the land of big-box retail stores the customer has been lost by virtue of volume.  Yet E-commerce giants like Amazon know your personal habits just as those old neighborhood merchants at the 5 and dime did. It’s a digital step toward that Minority Report experience…and in 2014 the NewAer team is combining our Proximity Platform with the intelligence of the E-commerce industry to create real-life ‘wow’ moments for shoppers.  In the coming weeks we’ll release software both directly and through partners to let big-screen digital signage inside a store speak to customers and enable any brand tablet to be used as this intelligent marketing engine…to name a few early examples, as we’re readying our first retail display software product beta’d in 2013 called Kiosk, for an early 2014 launch.
Consumers can already see other players in the industry experimenting with the concept of passive engagement.  Inside of the Apple stores, iBeacons trigger within your proximity and internal location-based push notifications pop a message on your phone when you walk near accessories, similar to getting a text message.  While this is clever, it’s a bit generic…does every customer want alerts on the same merchandise?  Plus, the experience nags with a second notification when as a guest walks by the same beaconing point again. We feel that will aggravate consumers to the point of them disabling this service, and it’s a pain point we have anticipated.

The NewAer Platform eliminates duplicated events messages as well as allowing retailers to mimic the behavior of the advertisements in Minority Report, with the advantage of empowering the consumer into opting in to this engagement.  With Kiosk running on a dedicated PC or tablet, it will “wake up” with a special message to specific customers based upon what a retailer knows about them.  If a merchant has a back-end database of prior purchases, rewards or points, the display becomes even more engaging to the customer.  NewAer stands for ambient, automagic events happening behind the scenes without the annoying check-in or another action performed on any device.  Thanks to the power of our cloud-based beacon system, the device and the environment operate seamlessly with one another.

For this to work, we leverage our Proximity Platform to enable smartphones, tablets or computers to communicate through a scrambled identifier, beaconing to other wireless devices.  For retail stores, these identifiers are used to greet customers within radio range of our Kiosk application.  By opting into broadcasting this unique number, personal identity is masked by our platform, but the retailer (who may have a loyalty program) can address the customer.

To see further how our double blind system works, you can read more about our privacy policy to see how we step out of the loop on user data and enable machine-to-machine communication links.
So there you have our wrap-up of 2013.  We are excited to see where our industry of proximity marketing is headed.  While early stories are just starting to come in from technologists, we are monitoring consumer habits and the latest wins and fails in the industry to make the most robust, customer friendly, customizable solution with our NewAer Proximity Platform SDK.

Here’s to a great 2013, and the future of 2014 cannot come soon enough!

Tis’ the season for Beaconing and Shopping!

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Holiday shopping dollars are down this year, but technology companies are scrambling to push new in-store digital initiatives.  Most are in the form of low energy Bluetooth transmitters, to check you into a store and present offers.  As the forerunner of this category, we are happy to see our peers attempts into these initiatives.  Here is a rundown on the headlines for this burgeoning beaconing industry leading into the retail season from the summer of 2013…

July 10th, NewAer publicly debuts Kiosk at the MobileBeat Innovation Showdown.

This app is built upon our “peer to peer” proximity SDK to let a phone or wearable “health and fitness” BTLE device trigger an iPad running our custom software.  When a guest approaches, it displays custom messages for them in a store or museum.  A story and interview shot on the 10th of July was published to the web later, after editing.
Our fan favorite app – reminds where you parked your car!
September 9th, PayPal aims to re-invent the in-store shopping experience with their Beacon product, which gives their users in a store a personalized experience to those who have the PayPal application.
September 26th, Apple announces that Major League Baseball will use their iBeacon service to trigger the MLB app and give fans information throughout ballparks that leverage the technology.
November 5th, NewAer receives its first granted patent #8,577,354 to automate actions on a phone network based upon scanned wireless signals.  This is our SDK engine to scan any wireless signal, then trigger an automated action in your handheld device, or make a change within the cloud.
November 7th, Qualcomm invites us to speak on an LTE-Direct panel with other industry leaders about our machine to machine discovery efforts with WiFi and Bluetooth, and how LTE-D will be yet another radio for our Proximity Platform to leverage.
November 20th, Shopkick announces that Macy’sstores in San Francisco and New York are the first to deploy iBeacon.  We tested it in NY on multiple devices and no beacons were found on iOS 7 nor with our Proximity SDK which “sees” said beacons.
December 6th, Apple announces 254 stores will use their trademarked iBeacons to notify users via the Apple Store application when things are nearby with their iPhones (we tested this on an iPad to no avail) running iOS 7 with push and location services turned on.
December 9th, Qualcomm wraps up the press releases with their announcement of making their Gimbal sensors or short-range tracking “proximity beacons” commercially available as part of their context aware platform, which lets retailers know when a customer has entered a store.  They have iOS support today, with plans for Android support in the future (see below on their disregard to the Android OS Bluetooth stack)
With all of the tech press talking beacons, what’s our take on it?

Our NewAer Proximity Platform SDK is the only software only, all device (Windows, iOS, Android and OS-X) plug-in with the ability to automate actions from all radios (WiFi, Bluetooth, BTLE, NFC, Cellular and Bonjour on-LAN) that a device can receive as an application plug-in on the market today.  With our extremely low-power software based scanning engine in development since 2010, two patents allowed, and another handful pending, we have the most robust set of capabilities in the space.  To see it work for yourself, you can download our Share App on any mobile device, or read the JavaDocs of our SDK.

With our Proximity Platform SDK, you do not need to install new hardware as the world is flooded with WiFi access points, and commoditized BTLE beacons like Stick-n-Find or FitBit activity monitors can trigger events without deployment of devices within an occupied space.  This means that anything emitting a signal can be received to automate actions within a users device or the cloud.

PayPal’s Beaconlaunched as a USB thumb drive sized device using a BTLE chip to allow a customer to “check into” a store – as long as the user has the PayPal application and the store is in their database.  Offers are managed through the PayPal system where they can also handle payment, as PayPal is a money-sending engine after all.  If you are a small retail store, especially without a credit card processor, this may be the best “self serve” solution for you, as they provide the user application, a daunting and perhaps unnecessary task for a small merchant.

Shopkick uses a similar beacon and business model, where the retail user manages their offers within the Shopkick database requiring the customer to have their Shopkick app installed.  This is much like the lesser used and we presume end-of-life Shopkick audio transmitters that the company debuted as an indoor “localized” trigger.

Apple iBeacon, uses their iOS core location service, which acts as a front-end filter for the Bluetooth communication stack and does not pass the BTLE device data into an app like a traditional BTLE device.  That means if you do not have an associated app for a beaconing location on the iPhone, then nothing will be triggered on it.  Once the right app is installed, location services, background operation and push notifications must also be enabled, and in most cases you must have mobile connectivity to the smartphone to engage the application.

This technology has promise due to the volume iOS devices used in the developed world, as the only fees are that of the proprietary iBeacon.  The downfall is typical of Apple’s “walled garden” approach and limitations, along with a lack of Android support.  Since WiFi is not supported, these new BTLE devices must be placed within a store, existing wireless infrastructure cannot be used.

Qualcomm LTE Direct, presumably coming in the future, will enable discovery of devices over traditional cellular frequencies, even if Bluetooth and WiFi is turned off.  This technology has great potential for public value, as long as the carriers support cross-network communication.  Meaning, if a Verizon phone can only see another Verizon phone, then the proximity value ends.  Carriers need to keep this communication channel open for mass adoption and value to occur.  Qualcomm will want to sit in the middle of these transactions to receive compensation however, which could be further downfall to its launch expected in 2015.

Qualcomm Gimbal, like LTE-D their Fyx beacon talks to their iOS SDK in another walled garden that goes so far as to crash the Android stack via its “security by obscurity” implementation.  We will have another post on how to easily “crack” this, pending it continues to ship.  Core to the Fxy problem with Android is that it rotates through a new MAC address every half-second, which floods the Android Bluetooth Share background process with too many entries.  This can only be solved by a VERY long cache timeout, restoring the operating system or upgrading the OS.  Qualcomm knows of this issue, but we recommend removing the battery from a Fyx beacon if you have one to prevent this MAC spamming.

So there you have it – the press releases from companies in this new industry, and a brief on what those players are up to.

As a wrap-up; NewAer is the first in the industry with the ability to scan any radio wave, including WiFi and some devices Cellular, and Bluetooth 2.0 plus beaconing Bonjour devices if a user is on a network.  This gives our framework the ability to provide customer solutions using infrastructure that exists in most any location today – without requiring new technology roll-outs.

For developers, our NewArea API ads the element of the very first cross-platform solution to infer proximity between devices that normally would not be able to see each other.  This means iOS and the rest of the ecosystem including Android devices, and even Windows based computers driving displays within a public space can share proximity data.  Another first in the industry.

We are proud of what we have created, and cannot wait to hear how you would like to use it within your own company applications.  Download our SDK here

Share is the easiest way to transfer files. Ever.

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Proprietary Mobile Sharing Ends Today!

There isn’t anyone from the pre-email age who didn’t battle the hassle of sharing files. In the PC’s infancy, floppy disks had proprietary formats – old Kaypro disks didn’t work with your friend’s Osborne 01 disk drive. Utility applications were sold to allow these drives cross-compatibility, but we didn’t see an early definition of standard formatting until the MS-DOS operating system and its clones consolidated the market and eventually, from this format, USB thumb drives were born.

The Brando Industrial USB 16-Port HubBut we don’t plug thumb drives into our mobile phones, and today we endure this same format elitism on these handsets. Consider some of the most commonly-used file sharing services today and their limitations;

Apple: AirDrop uses Bluetooth LE or WiFi to determine when another Apple device is nearby for you to send content. Apples to Apples, literally.

Samsung: S Beam uses a back-to-back NFC tap to share over WiFi directly. Slower than we should expect at this point in mobile tech, and again, proprietary.  Not much different than Android’s clunky built in touch to beam.

Motorola: Power-hungry GPS powers the Droid Zap application, which only works on those Droid mobile phones.  This is as bad as bumping.

All of the cloud file services require you send an email invite through their web form or by cutting and pasting a link, and that’s easy if there are two of you, but a pain for coordinating with a larger group.

My family and colleagues struggle unnecessarily with file sharing on a daily basis, so we couldn’t be more proud to announce that today’s launch of NewAer Share renders all of these proprietary services completely obsolete.

NewAer Share enables instant file transfers within a single app for your Android, iPhone or iPad or laptop running Windows or OSX. The app uses ambient WiFi & BlueTooth to automagically open a virtual file folder in the space where you are, allowing uploads or downloads of any file in a board room, coffee shop or even a connected airplane.

It’s time for you to be able to use your family room Android tablet to instantly see the photos taken on your iPhone- without emailing them, posting them to a website or using a tethered cable. iPad to Windows, Nexus to MacBook – we don’t discriminate.

In fact, as we debut Share at fall DEMO 2013, we invite you to download, launch and Share. Enjoy the photos posted, the PDFs and presentations of the demoing presenters and published crowd content.

Please remember you are accountable for your files and anyone in the space you post to can also see them. Future paid versions of our application will enable more users to join a Share and provide security measures to keep nearby parties who are not a part of your group out of the virtual folder. We get better with every bit of feedback so have fun and let us know what you think!

Download Share for your iPhone, Android device or your Mac or Windows laptop today!

iBeacons are BlueTooth LE or BT Smart and 4.0

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There has been a crazy amount of media coverage this week after the release of the iBeacons API for iOS 7…including much confusion about what iBeacons is and isn’t, from retail stores using beacons to Major League Baseball offering “experiences” around the stadium in their “At the Ballpark“ app. Read on to see why Apple is not the first to crack the code for “indoor beaconing,” and why iBeacons are not as accurate as the press leads you to believe.

First, what’s true: We’re at the cusp of wireless change.  Especially us at NewAer, as we’ve been pushing this change of the term ‘proximity,’ vs. ‘location,’ for many years.  This shift in definition has finally been embraced by the media via big-name technology providers.  Apple is driving a new protocol based upon our old friend Bluetooth, called ‘4.0’ and Smart or BTLE (meaning Low Energy), or iBeacons as they like to brand it.  Don’t worry about all of these terms – they’re interchangeable.


iBeacons is what we at NewAer have been building for years: a proximity platform on standardized protocols using low-cost commodity chips that anyone can build and place within products or accessories.

There are a few reasons BTLE is exciting for us.  The first is that the beacons or ‘stickers,’ which are basic ‘dumb things’ that will emit the beacon signals and work for a year or longer on simple lithium “coin cell” battery power.  The other exciting thing about a BTLE signal is that it does not need to be authenticated for your application to read it.  This means no more cumbersome pairing – and because they can be identified more easily indoors than GPS signals, to infer a person or a location to trigger something within an app.  We call these triggers actions.

Many reporters have described iBeacons as an indoor GPS solution, which it clearly isn’t if you read the API.  Instead of thinking of iBeacons as a localization system, think of it as a proximity system, and design your applications appropriately to create an event or trigger when you enter or leave the range of one.

NewAer began leveraging radio waves like WiFi, older Bluetooth 2.0 and cellular towers when all of those required pairing, keys and authentication – we removed those ‘pairing’ necessities before BTLE enabled this functionality.  We then added NFC and BTLE support once it arrived.  In fact, we had BTLE iBeacon-like support running on iOS 6, when we released our Kiosk advertising app. (See it here in our VentureBeat Minority Report story.)

We’re glad that Apple has recognized the value of proximity. As the leading provider of proximity software in the world, we welcome developers to start thinking about adding proximity to their applications. While iBeacons is exciting, we have been building code around the possibility of proximity for much longer and believe that it should be available on every platform, not just for the iPhone 4S, 5 and 5s and iPad 3, 4 and Mini on iOS 7.

Second, accuracy:  Fundamentally, iBeacons gives you access to the proximity of devices. While the API does offer an “accuracy” of a beacon, as measured in meters, this is a very noisy reading of distance and Apple’s docs specifically say that this should not be used “to identify a precise location for the beacon. Accuracy values may fluctuate due to RF interference.” While RF interference could be from other devices, it is more likely to occur because of some simple physical properties of the objects that are likely to be in vicinity of the iBeacon device.

A quick lesson in physics helps demonstrate why this measure shouldn’t be used for exact locations. Humans are essentially large, skin-containing bags of water. Unfortunately for iBeacons, and any other system which relies on radio waves, water is excellent at blocking RF, and it is particularly good at blocking RF at the frequencies around 2.4GHz that iBeacon operates at. Add to that the fact that humans have legs, and are thus mobile, and determining anything from signal strengths starts to get very challenging.

Imagine you are in a room with a BTLE beacon, looking at an application that presents you with a map of your location in the room. If a person walks between you and the beacon, the perceived RF will change significantly, but the distance between you and the beacon is the same. Should your position on the map be moved? iBeacons would lead you to believe that you have, but this is not true. Apple refers to this as “RF Interference,” and this simple physics problem makes any solution that relies on iBeacons as a localization system suspect at best, and misleading at worst.

Now let’s assume that you want to press ahead and use iBeacons for localization anyway. Well then, a single distance measure from a single iBeacon gives you a sphere of a certain radius from the iBeacon on which you reside. On a 2D overhead map this would be a circle. But your app wants a dot on the map. So you deploy another iBeacon in the same area, and now your app can see two spheres which hopefully overlap. But the intersection of two spheres is a planar circle. So you add a third beacon and that gets you a circle which intersects with the plane resulting in a line. Just like with GPS, you need to see four beacons simultaneously in order to determine your exact location. This means a much more costly deployment, all based on the assumption that you can trust the “accuracy” measurement iBeacons is supplying, which Apple specifically tells you not to do. This is why NewAer concentrates on “actions” vs. mapping. 

Furthermore, mapping indoors is less necessary thanks to signage… another reason why we avoid that approach.  We can find the exit and restrooms just fine with the analog methods.

What iBeacons wants you to use instead of this inaccurate measurement is proximity, which they call CLProximity in the iBeacons API.  This is exactly what NewAer has been offering for some time now on iOS and Android, and in our recently released SDKs for Windows and OSX. What’s more, on Android, Windows, and OSX we offer iBeacon like proximity to WiFi access points as well. This means your application can offer iBeacon-like functionality on these platforms WITHOUT the need to deploy a large number of hardware beacons. The beacons already exist all around you in the form of beaconing WiFi access nodes. In addition, on Android, our platform supports NFC and cell towers, allowing you even more options for beacon-like technologies to use to add proximity to your APIs, without the need for costly iBeacon deployments.

So there you have it, a marketing and deep technical dive into the technology that Apple just released, that we’ve been building for every platform for the past handful of years.  Welcome to our future!  We’re excited to be leading a part of it.

We are excited that Apple has realized the value of apps with access to wireless radio data, and encourage developers to take a look at our platform, which offers iBeacon-like functionality on iOS, Android, OSX and Windows, as iBeacon is limited to iOS 7 devices only. Proximity makes applications smarter, and we cannot wait to enjoy more proximity-enabled applications in the market.  We can envision reward applications, movie theaters launching their relevant ticketing and trailer apps when you get near a theater with friends and even deal apps sending us nearby special offers that we actually want.

So what do you think that you can build on an open all-platform SDK?  It’s a diverse world out there and proximity beacons can run on every device with NewAer.  Download the SDK and learn more about it at www.newaer.com/developers

Dave, Nick and the NewAer Tech team.