2013 March

Spring 2013 Press around Proximity…

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For us, spring showers brought us March flowers, and that means the blossoming continues into April!

From what started with a shout of “we had a no-show, who can join us on stage” to a call from the huge router juggernaut and some ironically “light” reading, we’ve gotten some interesting press this spring as the world learns more of our engine powering proximity versus the stale notion of fixed location services.  We are chartering a new path where location is just extra “META” data around content.  From the old “LBS” days of check-ins, Facebook went META by placing location information alongside of your posts and Apple went this direction by placing pins on a map where you shoot your photos on the iPhone.  But we care about more than where you are, looking into what devices are around you and how you can leverage them.

NewAer and our SDKs are placed inside of your applications or network allow you to create true actions or reactions around a device, or group of devices.

But don’t just take it from us.  Here is what others are saying…

We kicked all of this spring goodness off post CES with an impromptu presentation at our buddy Myles’ SF NewTech meetup.  That video is here: SF New Tech 1/23/13 Event – NewAer

Nerd Stalker was there to give his review of the pitches here: www.nerdstalker.com/2013/01/recap-of-124-sf-new-tech-startup-night.html

Our “Context-aware computing” writeup in Cisco: newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1157689

Light Reading “Proximity is where it’s at” At Mobile World Congress: www.lightreading.com/blog/mobile-applications/proximity-is-where-its-at/240149330

Additionally, those of you attending the Venture Beat Mobile Summit on April 1st and 2nd can see us chair the session on “Mobile as your remote control.”  But unlike your TV remote, our control happens with the phone in your pocket, not in your hand.

More info on Venture Beat Mobile 2013 is here: venturebeat.com/events/mobilesummit2013/

And since we are on a roll, you can also find us at the end of the month speaking on the Internet of Things with our friends from Deutschland and their MLOVE conference in Monterey.

The details on this conference in Monterey are here: www.mloveconfestival.com/usa/2013/

See you on the California Ocean side!

Lovegety and our interview at TechCocktail SXSW 2013

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Every March, the East and West coast nerds make their annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas (AKA neutral territory) for what I affectionately call “Geek Spring break.”  These past SXSW Interactive conferences have debuted social tools that have become huge hits, and I’d venture to say that even the ill-fated $41 million dollar investment and user interface blunder mobile app Color would have been successful had they launched just weeks earlier than they did in 2011, if they had launched at SXSW.  When I asked then CEO Bill Nguyen why he didn’t launch then, he said “what’s that?”  To be fair, he’s got a family and said he doesn’t like events crammed with people, but his team should have known.

This year, there were no real stand-out applications, and some press have also said the event has “jumped the shark” due to no break-out applications   There were further notions that the events were more party and less substance, but we didn’t feel that way when attending the demo events events like  those that our friends at TechCocktail host.

We caught up with an old friend and former “Cranky Geeks” producer Carlos Rodela there and had a nice chat about our software platform.  He even brought up a very rare 1998 “radio wave capturing” hardware based Japanese product – the Lovegety which could be built today as an iPhone or Andorid application easily  using the NewAer SDKs.

Here’s the video, and if you are so inspired to automate love like the Japanese, then download our SDK around proximity detection!  Our team developed a similar app at the LAUNCH hackathon for connecting with like minded people in just a couple days.  More on that story in the next blog post.

NewAer ProxPlatform SDK is live!

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Photo Credit Chaim Goodman-Strauss PVC 3D Hilbert curve

What we have seen with the rise of general purpose computing is simply astonishing. In the course of less than a century, we have gone from an unreliable computer needing 1800 square feet and 150 kW of power, in order to calculate at just 5kHz, to a computing device which fits in your pocket, is powered by a battery, operates in the 1+ Gigahertz range, has vastly more memory, and lasts for years – as long as you don’t drop it.

What is even more amazing is not just their computing power, but the embedded wireless radios and multiple sensors within. The radios connect to an amazing network of computers that all talk to each other as well as to other devices in physical proximity, and even the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites in orbit around the planet, which like to draw down precious battery power.  And while the Internet that these devices connect to is an amazing invention as well, it makes a smartphone the stuff of science fiction from just a few decades ago.

We at NewAer are into sensors, which allow this device to detect all kinds of interesting things, including acceleration, changes in orientation, magnetic North that Columbus could never dream of. Your proximity to another similar machine, ambient noise and light, lately even barometric pressure. All of this computing power, and all of these sensors, and all of the power of the Internet, all in your pocket. Simply astounding.

For a number of years now a friend of NewAer, Robert Scoble and other pundits have been sayingthat these devices are understanding more and more about us and what we are doing every day. We live in this world, as I leave my home without my keys or wallet more than I leave without my phone. They call this “context awareness” and we find it extremely exciting. It holds the promise to take the combination of our pocketable computer, its network and sensors, then turn them from a “smartphone” into a truly “smart” device. One that is able to automate in simple but powerful ways as we go about our day. One that knows enough about us to be an unobtrusive, context aware assistant that we love and simply can’t live without.

The first wave of context awareness was simply presenting an app the phone’s location via GPS. Mapping applications on your phone allow you to get directions from where you are, to where you want to go. Others allow you to “check in” at a particular location, and still others allow you to share your location with friends and family. Since context is generally thought of as the circumstances that are relevant to a particular event, certainly detecting the location that something happened is a big piece of the “context puzzle”.

Unfortunately GPS doesn’t work well indoors, and so location has been augmented with additional systems that can deduce location based on the visibility of terrestrial radio signals, such as cell towers and WiFi access points, using large Internet connected databases. But location is really just the first piece of the puzzle. We think that moving the blue dot on a map inside of a space is boring, frankly.

The next pieces of the contextual computing puzzle are largely unsolved, leaving the promise of a “smart” phone unsatisfied. Which is why we are so excited to be developing a platform to enable others to leverage this sensor network and action engine!  We believe that NewAer is offering one of the next big puzzle pieces of context in the form of “proximity” detection.

NewAer has developed a ProxPlatform SDK, which enables the devices to detect other devices nearby. This SDK allows application builders to easily power the next wave of context aware applications, which behave differently based on location, and also based on what devices are nearby.  All while your phone is in your pocket or purse; without you needing to wake it up or interact with it yourself.

Want to always remember where you parked your car, without having to remember to open the “Where did I park my car” application? Using the NewAer ProxPlatform an application can easily detect the loss of connectivity with your bluetooth equipped vehicle and drop a pin on a map.  Want to automatically forward your calls to your laptop when you are near it? It’s easy with the ProxPlatform. The possibilities for smarter, context aware interactions are endless using the SDK.

NewAer’s SDK offers robust, low latency proximity detection. Our simple API allows your application to detect devices which come in and go out of radio range. In addition, our Android SDK offers a pluggable rules engine. Developers can easily write simple action plugins which can be shared between applications which are part of the ProxPlatform ecosystem. This means that you don’t have to include the full scanning engine to be part of the NewAer application ecosystem. You can include our very small plugin SDK in your application and allow other applications to automate actions using our platform.

This SDK comes bundled with a number of plugins for playing music, vibrating the phone, and our roadmap includes adding many more for even more powerful features soon. We also look forward to seeing what kinds of actions you can come up with. NewAer’s SDK offers the next big piece of the context puzzle. We have worked hard to make a simple but powerful API for application developers to use. Finally, our smartphones today are powered by limited battery packs.

As users, we have become acclimated to the nightly charging routine, but are still frustrated if our device doesn’t make it through the day. Thus, NewAer has focused a great deal of time and attention on keeping power draw for the platform to a minimum, while keeping the latency of device detection low. This is a delicate balancing act requiring considerable time and attention, not to mention optimization.

We are very excited to be able to offer this power optimized SDK to developers, and we look forward to seeing all of the context aware applications our technology unlocks. The age of context is just beginning and NewAer is key to the next wave of context awareness. We don’t turn on GPS, do not keep the CPU awake unless we need to, and typically see a lower power draw of around 4% on the Android battery meter. That makes us proud for not making you sacrifice battery life while still getting the power of our engine.  Incidentally, this is about the same draw as the active wallpaper Android supports, so by removing your “fish tank” you will be at a net-zero end-result with our addition.

Sign up for access to the NewAer ProxPlatform SDK today. Happy hacking! Now what are you waiting for?  Our plumbing of the next evolution of contextual computing awaits you and your apps.

-Nick Palmer Technology Lead and the NewAer team