We are inspired by our NewAer developers! (AKA You.)

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We are a week away from the Techcrunch 2013 Disrupt Hackathon where we are sponsoring a $2k prize for the best developers that use our proximity SDK.  If you are considering using GPS location based service APIs, we’d like for you to take a look at our platform which consumes less power and is more accurate than GPS inside of a space, as high-resolution peer to peer discovery of devices.

A full-house at the LAUNCH 2013 Hackathon event

Here’s some info on the Disrupt Hackathon: techcrunch.com/2013/04/19/disrupt-nys-hackathon-api-workshops-to-feature-aws-box-evernote-facebook-foursquare-and-the-nyt/

At the recent LAUNCH Hackathon, where we debuted our SDK, team NewAer was on hand to help developers who used the platform and also get some great feedback from those using it.  We have made and deployed subtle improvements over the past few weeks, but for Disrupt, we are adding some significant features that we are excited to pre-announce.

Here’s a list of what’s new on NewAer:

New Features for Android:

  • Cell Tower Scanning, set rules when you get or leave a tower (1000’s of feet away)
  • WiFi Bonjour Scanning, allows you to see Bonjour devices (on the local network)
  • New Application Key Callback API, allows you to handle app key check failure gracefully
  • New Group API, allows you to easily group devices and rules (for clustering of signals)

New Features for iOS:

  • Devices now have signal strength measurements where applicable (BlueTooth LE)
  • Independent enable/disable of scan and advertise by device family (BT, BTLE, Bonjour, WiFi AP)
  • Improved low-power consumption for all device families
  • New register application interface & callbacks – removed popups
  • Sending events for developer to decide on messaging
  • Bluetooth LE devices are now subject to a moving-average window on strength (eliminates chaotic behavior with signal strength)
  • Better guarantee/handling of unique advertising names
  • Report new devices instantly; report lost devices after de-flapping

Of course both versions get the usual various stability fixes, performance improvements, and some bug fixes.  Due to limitations of the different OS, we strive to make the releases on-par between platforms.  You will see that our adding things like Bonjour to Android and signal strength to iOS is an example of such.
At the LAUNCH hackathon, (where we kicked off our SDK) we were honored and surprised by the creative projects that came out of the event.  Some of our favorites were Sample Around, which won $5000 for a food sampling app that leveraged our proximity engine.  The “one I could use daily” was from the team at 85, who created an iPad menu app which noticed when you came back a second time to a restaurant and after welcoming you, gave you the ability to order the same thing again, or try something new based upon your last purchase!  A delightful idea!
Register to be a NewAer Developer and lets see what you’ve got to top those concepts!

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

A new and exciting year for proximity!

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As we built our first version of the then spelled NeuAer Proximity Platform in 2010, we knew that we were onto something. We became the forerunner of the next generation of location-based services. Creating a technology that would work both indoors and out, as a licensable engine to allow other developers to leverage what were formerly “stray” or ambient radio signals.

When we won Best Technology at Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH competition in 2011, the tech community told us that we had a hit on our hands. Investors swooned and before we knew it, unsolicited term sheets for convertible notes were arriving in our in-box.

As a bootstrapped company, accepting early money from outside investors would have removed some of the fundraising pressure and provided breathing room to grow faster. However, we respectfully declined each offer and decided to grow with customers, albeit slowly, while looking for the right strategic investors.

We are happy to write that our first commercial license came in 2011 and we closed an investment round in 2012 with huge companies considered to be the right strategic matches, that could leverage our vision within their own products or services.

First to the boardroom table in our series seed (which is investor speak for pre-series A) was Intel Capital, the investment arm of the Intel processor empire. With their investment we are bringing our engine into more than just smartphones by building next generation collaboration platforms for laptops and mobile devices.

Rounding out the investment was T-Venture, the investment arm of Deutsche Telekom, which is the German based giant behind the T-Mobile carrier group worldwide. Watch for future news from their business units on these blog pages.

As for 2013, we are off to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, known by many of us as a gadget heaven, to demonstrate integration that we have been working on all summer. With phone networks moving to 4G or LTE today, the next generation of voice & video calls will be made on VoLTE (Voice over LTE networks.) Our technology taps into this next generation carrier infrastructure of Alcatel-Lucent via their IMS platform and its API capabilities. This collaboration came into place as a member of their “ng Connect” program. We will be demoing in their booth in the South Hall #31412. Look for us in the inner ring of the Alcatel-Lucent partners if you are there!

Finally, we are going back to our competition roots, sponsoring the hack-a-thon of the same conference where we debuted, LAUNCH on March 2nd in San Francisco. This is where we will launch our SDK that goes inside of YOUR applications, or devices, debut our second-generation API “action engine” in the cloud and a few other tricks that we have been working ourselves. Best thing for you developers out there, is that we are giving away a $2,000 prize to the team who builds our favorite application on the NewAer platform.

What a fast few years it has been. We are excited to have our partners, customers and new investors in the now easy to pronounce NewAer, Inc. and are off to the races. If you are in the industry, come say hello to us in Vegas at CES or Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. We can give the run-down on why proximity beats location-based services in power consumption and speed for your own applications, devices or services. Happy New Year, everyone, and developers, we will see you at LAUNCH!

Post SXSW Interactive 2012 Wrap-up!

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[SXSW image credit:  Kevin Krejci/Flickr]

As I write this, we have been back just a few days from more than 16,000 miles of travel that started in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, made our way through San Francisco for the LAUNCH festival, and finally to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest Interactive.

Each of these brought us great meetings with new partners and a lot of lessons learned about the state of the mobile nation. At MWC, we saw handsets that are getting thinner, with larger screens and better audio like the HTC One.

The LAUNCH conference brought us old friends from last year, and new up-and comers like the 2012 winner of our 2011 Best Technology honor Captricity which takes paper forms and turns them into digitally readable documents.

Finally, at SXSW we hooked up with friends from the East & West coast, and all over Europe as well, to see the latest social software and applications that were breaking weeks before the conference.

The hype in Austin this year was around apps that would alert you to when you are in range of your friends or people whom you should meet. These used GPS satellites in the sky to setup “geo fencing” to compare your approximate location with another user of the same app. Leveraging GPS is easy, since all smartphone operating systems have the technology as a built-in API to plug right into your app. The problem though, is that GPS radios need a clear view of the sky to operate and because your body is made mostly of “radio blocking” water, trying to get a signal from a transmitter in outer-space is a difficult feat. Additionally, when you are inside a building, receiving GPS signals is next to impossible due to construction materials or even the metallic window tint or bonded coatings on some glass.

We dig a bit deeper into our solution around our Proximity Platform as a substitute for GPS based APIs through this story that we wrote for VentureBeat.
Why GPS-based smart apps failed to go viral at SXSW.

Take a look at the story and drop us a line through our contact page if you want to work with our API on the Android or iOS mobile operating systems! Although we are glad to be home now, we certainly will see you at the next mobile conference!

Indoor Mapping via WiFi from Google Maps

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Those of you with Android phones are getting an update for the Maps application bringing it to version 6.0. With this comes the ability for it to provide your location inside of a building – at least in those few locations that have been mapped by the Google team. Currently these venues are a few airports and shopping malls, like the ginormous 500 store Mall of America. Their announcement comes just after Black Friday, the most shopped time of the year & a little late to make a dent, but interesting nonetheless.

To find your location inside of a building, the Google Maps application uses the WiFi access points that span malls and airport halls, using radio waves to determine the floor and spot that you are approximately in front of. It will not have the specificity that GPS does, as WiFi signals were not designed originally for this type of use, but will give you the general area where you can find yourself. Since GPS signals do not penetrate the roof of buildings, WiFi is a good fall-back technology.

Google Maps before on the left, and with interior capabilities on the right

We at NeuAer use these WiFi signals, along with Bluetooth and Near Field (NFC) to trigger events within our Proximity Platform. We don’t necessarily know where you are, as we do not have the corresponding physical space map that Google does, nor do we care to know where you are. Developers using our proximity platform use those same radio waves that Google uses for maps to trigger things within their software or even up to the cloud.

Knowing where you are in a building is one thing. Having your phone act upon where you are in a building is what we at NeuAer believe is paramount to making your smart phone truly smart. This is partially because going to stores like IKEA are the bane of our existence, so much that we like to traverse their stores backwards – from the exit to the front.

Here’s an example video on how Google aims to make that trip to find your particleboard furniture a little bit easier. IKEA and Google indoor maps

If you want to try it out on your on Android phone, here are the current launch locations which support the indoor map data: Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Daimaru, Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations and more. Airports like the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT) in Japan.

So try it out and let us know if you can find the bathrooms any easier. You can find us at the “You Are Here” sticker on the analog map!

Here is the original story from the Google Blog.

On a more somber note, our best wishes go out to the family of Charles Walton, the inventor of RFID or Radio Frequency ID tags, who passed away on November 6th. These wireless reader-powered ID chips are a precursor to NFC (Near Field Communication) tags that we use as yet another trigger our NeuAer API.
The story on his passing from Venturebeat.com

Sharing some Mobile Love in Germany

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Today marks the day that we were supposed to be landing in sunny California, relaxing and reconnecting with friends and the rest of the team; talking about the adventure we have had on our European road show. We had great meetings, met some amazing people and will have some announcements on projects that we are going to be working on once all the legal stuff gets sorted out! More to come on that front.

This was a great trip socially too as the Black Eyed Peas played a rain delayed show in New York, London had a weekend music celebration, where it rained for only one day of it! Even Paris began their summer with a solstice music celebration with bands on nearly every street corner.

Whilst (which is fancy Brit speak for while in the US) in London we were lucky enough to be introduced to an advisor to the MLOVE conference www.mlove.com/mlove2011/ and submitted our gem showcase application ToothTag into the running for the startup competition. Would you guess we got accepted to present? Well, we did, and this means that we are staying another week in Berlin for new meetings and then head to the conference in the 100 room 19th century castle!

So are you going to be one of the “knights in the castle” at Mobile Love 2011? If so, we’d love to chat with you and see what you are up to!

Join us on our 2011 World ToothTag Tour!

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We just left San Francisco and are headed across the country, then onto the world for a NeuAer road show with our Proximity Platform, and we want to meet you!

Our voyage began in San Francisco with the Apple World Wide Developers conference, known to the 5,200 developers in attendance as WWDC. Steve Jobs looked thin when he took the stage as the audience rose in applause, but his keynote excited us with talk of a few of the 1,500 new iOS APIs. These are the software controls that applications like ours get access to on the iPhone and iPad. We cannot wait to get under the proverbial development hood and see which ones of them will give us the same user experience that we have with ToothTag on the Android platform today. While version 5 of Apple’s mobile operating system goes live in the fall, we are looking to see what magic we can make happen with ToothTag today!

Our favorite of these announcements is the “geofence” built into their Reminders application, which allows you to setup a pop-up reminder “when I arrive” or “when I leave” an area. This will be enabled through the iPhone maps application and sends a pop-up a message on-screen to remind you to do an action. So called “geofences” have been around on web portals for mobile phone companies for years, but this is the first time that it has the potential to hit the mainstream. This is a pre-cursor to what we are doing at NeuAer, so we are excited for more people to have visibility into our space! For those newbies to our company, our platform allows triggers not just around geo, or location, but also for people, places and things. It’s not just pop-ups either, but music, maps and actions on the phone as well as the automatic execution of web-based events like social media check-ins as well. Plus, we work inside buildings where geofencing typically works best outdoors.

After a day of meetings with old and new friends at WWDC, we are off to New York for Internet Week, which is like no other conference we have been to. It is scattered across the vast blocks of Manhattan and is a smattering of office open houses, sessions in performance halls and of course the obligatory rooftop cocktail hours. We are excited to get in front of some of our favorite Silicon Alley companies like foursquare, boxee and even some new companies with mixed case names like ours!

Next up is Tel Aviv where we will be sharing ToothTag with old and new friends; some of which we caught up with on Summit at Sea and at the Kinnernet conferences in Israel and Washington DC. Tel Aviv reminds us of San Francisco with cool architecture, a tight knit technology community and tons of innovation! Plus we cannot wait for the “tiny” salad bowls at lunch!

We round out the trip in London and Paris where we are meeting with partners in the communications space and would love to see other innovative companies!

So if you or your team are in any of these amazing cities through the end of June, let us know by sending an email to partners @ neuaer.com, or click on the contact form on our website. We will be in New York for Internet Week, Tel Aviv from the 13th through 17th, London and Paris on the 18th through 23rd. We’d love to chat about making your smartphone projects truly smart with the Proximity Platform from NeuAer!

While the sales and executive team is on the road, we want to thank some of the pictured crew back at home for making ToothTag the amazing product that it is today. Here’s to you guys and gals, and we will be sure to bring back some more great projects for the platform!

NFC + ToothTag = Open Coolness at Google IO

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Asia gets all of the cool stuff first like tiny laptops (we called them netbooks – they were cool before tablets became vogue) and mobile broadband. Even QR codes that could launch websites with camera phones, as typing URLs with their alphabet on 10-key numeric phones was a pain. Now the hot thing is Near Field Communications (nicknamed NFC because geeks need acronyms) for commerce or information about stores. We think NFC is neat, but much bigger than retail – so we figured it was time to make them cool.

In America, as I write this, the Nexus S from Samsung has the necessary hardware to read NFC tags. The user experience is really boring though. You don’t need to launch an app like you do to read QR codes, just touch a NFC tag, and see content from the tag. For us at Team NeuAer, that wasn’t cool enough. We wanted to actually DO THINGS based upon our phones sensing a tag, just as we automate actions from WiFi and Bluetooth. Plus, we wanted to more than just basic things within the phone like play a song, but to also hook into web API’s like check-in on foursquare. We thought about even grander ideas like setting triggering your lighting and playing music in your house. While we are not going to provide you the home automation system, we are going to let you hook into yours! We are opening our proximity platform around ToothTag. With Android at Home announced today, it seems that we weren’t the only one thinking about automating your environment.

This marks the first time that our ToothTag engine for proximity plumbing is available for developers to create their own web services that can be executed based upon your smartphone seeing another wireless radio. You can write your own apps in your favorite language, or use our examples built in Ruby on Rails or Python and can host them at Heroku or Google App Engine online. Both of these are FREE services (you can thank us later) for you to get started immediately. ToothTag will act as a gateway to trigger your own services based upon seeing any wireless technology that the phone can. All automatically.

At the Google IO conference in 2011 we are also giving away thousands of ToothTag stickers with NFC chips inside; for you use to build your own actions to automate your life. Of course you can perform our default actions, but better yet, we want you to write your own. Because we want to give you the tools to create the next generation of automated actions to make your smartphone truly smart.

We’re excited to see what you come up with! So hit the proximityplatform.com link below and show us what you’ve got!

P.S. Once you scan a few NFC tags, you’ll get some interesting names; vs the pseudo-random bytes that identify a tag by default. We figured those tag numbers were boring and came up with our own naming convention. Let us know what we did to come up with this schema, via the comments.

m.toothtag.net – Our download landing page embedded on the NFC tags for Google IO hosted by our friends at www.getsharesquare.com”
Here is www.proximityplatform.com – Our developer page for YOU to make web apps that run inside of ToothTag

And if you need a NFC capable Android device, Best Buy just put the latest version of the 4G Nexus S up for $149 too!