In-Brief: Julian Bourne, CEO & Founder of Proxpro, a GPS software developer, takes the wraps off a new service and walks us though how location AND time will likely play together to make mobile services a more meaningful (translated: indispensable) part of our daily routine.
Regular readers will recall that Proxpro, a provider of mobile search and proximity social networking tools, recently developed a matchmaking service to help mobile professionals to find and meet people who matter. The company’s patented technology and algorithms discover people nearby who match pre-specified interests. The service then sends a text message to both and, if both agree, a face-to-face meeting can take place within minutes.
Proxpro’s CEO & Founder Julian Bourne, a pioneer in what I’ll call proximity social search, recently called me from Boston to fill me in on some new technology that could benefit mobile services of all kinds and flavors – not just mobile search.
The excitement is around Proxpro Prompt, a GPS service in beta that effectively fuses the device’s digital calendar with GPS to tell users exactly when they have to leave to make the next appointment based on a real-time understanding of traffic conditions and related factors. In a nutshell, by integrating GPS with the calendar, Proxpro compares current location with the time and location of the user’s next appointment, and 30 minutes before the best departure time a “when to leave” alert pops up automatically on the user’s mobile device. A map displays the fastest route and the current traffic conditions. (Download it here and circle back to tell us what you think http://wap.proxpro.com/prompt)
The application, currently only available in North America and on BlackBerry 8800 or Curve devices, is creating quite a buzz in the blogosphere. The value prop around services in synch with users’ time and place is cool and easy to communicate. Julian reports 1,500 downloads in just three days, a response that speaks volumes about the future requirements for services we use on the fly.
Sure, we want services that tell us how things are (for example: weather and news), where things are (for example: maps and directions), and what everyone is up to (for example: Twitter, Buddyping, and MyGamma). But there’s no reason to stop there. Combine personalization with pattern recognition and mobile technology becomes more intelligent and more resourceful. Get the mix right – as Prompt has – and it’s possible for an individual user to make a better judgment about future events – if not predict them.
Need to catch a flight or make a train? Now the mobile (with Prompt installed) has the capabilities to collect and weigh all the variables (traffic, weather, etc…) to determine when you should leave and how you should travel. Julian reports users are accessing the service several times a day, a usage pattern that reveals a value-add PND (personal navigation device) providers and mobile operators alike can charge for. (Proxpro licenses its technology to both, and maintains a D2C offer.)
Taking off his vendor hat and switching to the big-picture, Julian has applied situation awareness – a military term – to personal mobility. “Mobile services inform us, but the services they deliver aren’t situation-aware, they can’t make sense out of what the information [they deliver] means to us as individuals.” Moving forward, Julian expects new and defined location-based services to emerge that are “purely situation aware.”
By way of background, there are three levels of situation awareness:
- Level 1: Awareness of multiple situational elements, events, people, and environmental conditions. (This is the level where we find most mobile applications.)
- Level 2: Understanding the meaning of the above conditions, use of pattern recognition, language recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. (Very few mobile applications even attempt this. If you know of any, please let me know.)
- Level 3: Projection of future states and events. (This is where we find Prompt now and possibly many more LBS offers in the future.)
So, will personal navigation services have to be calendar-based in the future?
That’s a tough one to call (particularly since I’m based in Germany and unable to test Prompt). I’ll leave you with an apt observation from Julian, when I asked him why he is convinced Level 3 situation-aware services are the next big thing. “They [services] are essential to me being “me.” The first wave of personalized mobile services was about ‘me’ being ‘me’ – expressing my music, my style, connecting with my friends. This new breed of personalized services is about me being a better ‘me’ because I have access to information that puts me in control of my life, making me more resourceful and more effcient.” Hmmm…. Personal mobility meets time management – it’s bound to be a powerful combination…
BTW: OceanTomo is auctioning Proxpro’s Mobile Social Networking patent on June 25-26, 2008.