Category Archives: GeoLocation

An Interview with Prof.William Webb in discussion about Weightless

The following interview was carried out with Prof. William Webb on July 9th 2012 at Neul’s office in Cambridge. 

Prof. William Webb, FREng, FIET, FIEEE, Neul Chief Technology Officer. Prior to joining Neul William was Director of Technology Resources at Ofcom, the UK Communications regulator. William joined Ofcom in 2003 where he managed a team providing technical advice and performing research across all areas of Ofcom’s regulatory remit. He also led major reviews conducted by Ofcom including the Spectrum Framework Review, the development of Spectrum Usage Rights and most recently cognitive or white space policy. Previously, William worked for a range of communications consultancies in the UK in the fields of hardware design, computer simulation, propagation modelling, spectrum management and strategy development. He is a Visiting Professor at Surrey University and DeMontfort University and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the IEEE and the IET where he is a Vice President. His biography is included in multiple “Who’s Who” publications around the world. William has a first class honours degree in electronics, a PhD and an MBA.

What is it about Whitespace that particularly appropriate to M2M that legacy technologies cannot categorically deal with M2M?

Radio spectrum needed for a machine to machine system (M2M) with ubiquitous coverage to deal with smart metering must have the following characteristics;

  • Firstly it should be relatively low frequency, ideally below1Ghtz which allows the necessary range to cover the country and to get deep inside houses without needing an enormous level of cells.
  • Secondly a fair amount of spectrum is necessary, predictably in the order of the magnitude to handle 1 billion devices in the UK alone so that there is no capacity constraint.
  • Thirdly it will need it to be colloquially harmonised to gain the economies of scale on the chip-sets to counter the price; there are lots of applications where global roaming is an important function as is asset tracking, automative and others.
  • And finally the spectrum has to be inexpensive, ideally free otherwise the operator of any network would be lumbered with a big bill which is invariably passed onto the end users so it becomes expensive.

TV white space ticks all those boxes; its free, its below 1Ghz and it has the potential to be globally harmonised because the TV bands are globally harmonised. So TV Whitespace spectrum provides an enormous advantage to anybody with a M2M system which was not available before.

Is is true that Weightless is “Frequency Agnostic”?

TV Whitespace has two major characteristics. Access is unlicensed and in order to avoid interfering with TV receivers the transmissions have to be tightly controlled. Unlicensed spectrum is therefore tougher to control because the interference occurring at any point from an another unlicensed user. Certain safeguards are in place so this does occur, like blue-tooth which uses frequency hopping to jump across multiple frequencies.

Thus if a licensed technology which does not have the extra safeguard, is dropped into TV Whitespace the chances are that it wont operate very well because of interference. An example of this is Wi-Fi which, has been designed for unlicensed spectrum but the issue is to keep the radio emissions very tightly filtered and that is not something that Wi-Fi is designed to do. So Wi-Fi has been designed with relatively loose filters that allow a lot of out of band emissions so the data rates can be pushed quite high but that will make it very difficult to deploy in TV Whitespace. In conclusion TV Whitespace is effectively is the tighter restriction band.

Do you feel that there is any other standard that is a competitor?

No. There is not a single standard in the area of M2M communications that has been developed and as time goes on this becomes less likely. It become harder and harder for other standards to stand up as competitive.

The Technologies strategy Board (TSB) have put forward £24m for local government to develop a smart city. What is your role in the this?

Weightless does not have a formal role. A smart city typically comprises of a number of sensors that are located in strategic locations that might measure tracking lights for example and they need somewhere to link those sensors back to a control point such as a database which can then process the information. So a smart city is a collection of sensors linked via a communication technology to a database system which can act on the information received. And the only viable wireless technology to get information back from the sensors is Weightless.

What about privacy issues and control?

Weightless is providing a bit pipe from a sensor to a meter to a database. What is done with it consequently ie how the data is stored, processed will be up to the company utilising the technology. No doubt there will be privacy concerns in some applications but government regulation and company awareness will be able to deal with this.

M2M making decisions with out human interference. How far are we from this technology?

Weightless is designed from a human control perspective. So the embedded devices which communicate with central control are effectively dumb. If a situation occurs that an embedded device for example is “running too hot”, then it will simply send a message back to the central control point that “my bearings are very hot” and central control would send a message back to deal with the situation.

This has two advantages, low cost and low power usage.

The internet is designed in a way where there is no central control. So Weightless is building a network that has central control thus layering a network on a network. Is that the case?

The internet is a mechanism to send signals from base stations to a cloud processing point where decisions are taken. In as much we use the internet we simply use it as a communications back wall system so that we do not need any central processing there and we draw out data from the central processing node.

Can Weightless handle the projected 50 Billion devices as mentioned by Gerald Santucci?

This is the advantage of designing a system specifically for this application, we actually designed it for 50 billion devices and everything about systems being scaled are ready to cope with that. With the advent of this technology there is no real idea of how this technology will impact on society.

Megadroid, Smartphone security and Sandia National Laborities

Researchers as Sandia National Laboratories (US Govt Lab) have built a self-contained, Android based network comprised of 300,000 virtual hand held computer devices to study cyber disruptions and to help secure hand held devices.

The project known as Megadroid will result in a software tool that will help model similar environments and to allow developers to study the behaviour of smartphone networks. It is also sophisticated enough for researchers and any other potential user to zoom-in on a specific device to see what is happening to it during a simulation.

A key element of the Megadroid project is a spoof “Global Positioning System” (GPS). Simulated GPS data is created of a smart phone user in an urban environment. Data is then fed into the GPS input of an Android Virtual Machine. Software on the virtual machine treats the location data as indistinguishable from the real GPS data, which offers researchers a much richer and more accurate emulation environment from which to analyse and to study.

It is envisaged that the project will be used primarily as a tool to ferret out problems that would manifest themselves when large number of smartphones interact. Issues to do with Data protection and data leakage is also planned to be studied.

As the U.S. military struggles to both harness the proliferation of smartphones among active duty personnel to aid operations while at the same time maintain security around the numerous disparate devices — Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, etc — that have bloomed among the armed forces thanks to the “bring your own device” phenomena, MegaDroid could provide a huge opportunity to help the army.

Another application for MegaDroid is that could be used to test how smartphone networks might be affected by natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. A fleet of mobile phones could be used as a sensor bed where members of the emergency services could take pictures of affected areas with the cameras on their phones and quickly build a 3D map.

But it could also be used for commercial applications; although Sandia is first and foremost a U.S. government lab, the MegaDroid researchers are also open to receiving solicitations from private companies looking to test their apps on the software, as well as academics, security researchers and other government agencies.

If Foursquare had a city’s worth of Android devices sitting in the room next door to test their platform a certain smartphone usage behaviour can be discovered and analysed.

 


Cityvox enables diners to review experience with RFID

Cityvox a French media content company which operates a network of Web sites offering local content throughout France, is enabling diners to employ RFID to view reviews and ratings at more than 1,500 restaurants. The aim of using NFC technology is to make it easier for the public to access that information.

The technology consists of Near Field Communication (NFC) passive RFID stickers attached at restaurant entrances. Software directs consumer’s NFC-enabled mobile phone to a Web site listing content for that specific restaurant, based on the sticker’s ID number.

In the case that consumers phones are not equipped with NFC RFID readers, a QR code is printed on the front of each sticker enabling them to access that same information.

After completing the meal a receipt embedded with a NFC tag allows consumer’s to tap their phone to access another server linking them to post reviews of their experience, without leaving their table. The reviews are presented on Cityvox’s Web site for others to view, either from a PC or a phone, and the company collects the ratings in order to determine which restaurant within a particular local area is most popular, and thus deserves “Selected” status.

Cityvox approached Orange for a solution, which it first trialed in Paris for several weeks before proceeding to mail 1,553 “Cityvox Selection” stickers in November 2012 to restaurants within 133 French cities.

The sticker is composed of an RFID inlay made with a NXP Semiconductors NTag203 chip. The URL encoded to the sticker’s RFID chip directs the mobile phone to a server designated for that specific restaurant’s reviews and ratings.

The tags are designed to be sturdy enough to resist rain with a lifetime of a year before replacement. There are no formal statistics to measure the success, however there are indications that restaurateurs are pleased with the results so far.

Raspberry Pi

Set up the Raspberry Pi first time – will be carrying out projects related to “Location Based Services”. A number of good projects are outlined in various Linux Magazines – eg Linux Format..Will be writing more about this.

 

 

 

RFID, Alien Technology and the iPhone

Alien Technology has partnered with Turkey-based RFID company Teknopalas to develop a RFID reader network application designed for the Apple iPhone.

The I-Alien ALR9900+ is a free application that monitors and controls an arrangement of one or more Alien ALR-9900+ Enterprise Readers on the network via an iPhone as opposed to a computer.

I-Alien ALR9900+ automatically detects all readers on the network allowing users to remotely manage the network, connect to selected readers, adjust antenna settings, write/read tags, test performance and email results, among other actions. All actions and results are presented in a simple style familiar to iPhone users.

Users can also monitor the electronic product code (EPC) data of tags, the speed of tag reads, tag signal strength, total unique tags in the field and more. The application also provides users the ability to write data into the EPC field of the selected tag, update protect passwords and control or modify both the power and which designated antenna is used, among other features.

Additionally, the I-Alien reader application offers users the ability to manage reader network settings, including IP settings such as fixing a static IP address or switching to dynamic addressing; saving the settings to the ROM of the reader; and even rebooting the reader, if desired.

The application is available free of charge from both the US and European Apple App Store. Search for “ialien.”

Click here to read more..

Arizona (USA), RFID, The NEST and Identification of suspects

RFID in conjunction with “Social Media” is being used by The Nest, the largest haunted attraction in Arizona USA, to enhance fear for the Halloween season, allowing thrill seekers to experience the maximum fright possible.

The Nest is over 50,000 square feet, with nearly $1 million in animatronics, and special effects. ABC News and Good Morning America named it the “Spookiest Place in America” and broad-casted live from the Nest during its morning Halloween show.

The Halloween attraction has partnered with Brightline Interactive and with FISH Technology for the integration of RFID tracking technology system, which automatically follows guests through the haunt, personalizing the experience as they walk from room to room.

Integrating Facebook Connect with RFID-based technologies, guests who walk through The Nest will see and hear their name, view their photos, receive messages and a few more terrifying surprises.

Also in Arizona, the sheriff’s office in Pinal County, Arizona has adopted a mobile biometric identification system to help identify suspects in any location. This is being used through the MORIS identification system that incorporates biometric readings of irises, fingerprints and facial recognition through a mobile device that connects to a smart phone. The system can be used to identify suspects who have no identification and undocumented immigrants.

A database of biometric data points that the sheriff’s office started collecting in 2010 will be used to verify identification. The database contains information on about 10,000 individuals. The system is intended to be with the suspects consent or if there is probable cause to do so.

RFID technology used to “Enhance” Party Goers Experience at Music Festivals

RFID technology is being ustilised to “enhance” people’s experience of live music events and parties. During the London 2012 Games, Intellitix powered some of the most exclusive private after-show parties using its full suite of RFID technologies.

In addition to this an on-line audience of 2 million was generated by using a combination of Intellitix systems and ID&C RFID wristbands, when ticket holders linked their bands with Facebook to check in and post photos using custom-built units within the venue. The full suite of RFID technology deployed also included a secure access control system and a “cashless” bar with guests’ RFID wristbands

Samsung is also involved in the roll out of ticket-less RFID technology at live music events in the United Kingdom (UK). Working closely with Kilimanjaro Live abd Intellitix, the company will bring the new technology to festival goers in the form of special RFID wristbands. These wristbands will be read on arrival to validate visitors’ entry, promising secure access.

Festival goers will be able to personalize their wristband to check in on Facebook and share their experience with their friends online, to enter competitions associated with events, or upgrade to VIP simply by flashing their wristband.

The technology made its debut at the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ gig at Knebworth. This was followed by the music and wake boarding festival, Wakestock.

And finally SAG (Security Assembly Group) has released a disposable high frequency RFID wristband designed to meet short-time identification of attendees at such as special attractions, sports events, amusement parks, concerts, clubs, festivals and exhibitions and patients at hospitals. The SAG Disposable Wristband (Reel Format) is made of polypropylene (PP) and has a full length of 276 millimeters.

The new SAG Disposable Wristband (Reel Format) features the NXP MIFARE Ultralight chip with 384 bits of user memory. The cost-effective RFID wristband solution is also compliant with the ISO 14443 A standard.

The product is delivered in reel for easy printing and encoding at the point-of-use, and can be supplied with an optional fastening button for one-time closure in order to prevent unauthorized transfer during its usage, avoiding tampering attempts.

An Interview with Glenn Collinson Co-founder of Neul

The following interview was carried out with Glenn Collinson on July 9th 2012 at Neul’s office in Cambridge. 

Glenn Collinson – Board Member, Chairman of the Strategy Committee. Glenn Collinson is a co‐founder of CSR and helped to manage its growth from a start‐up in 1998 to its listing as a public company in 2004. He retired from the Board of CSR in 2007. Glenn was a non‐executive director of Sonaptic Ltd from April 2005 until its sale to Wolfson in July 2007. Glenn currently holds positions as a non‐executive director of DiBcom SA, Inside Contactless SA and Wolfson Microelectronics plc. Prior to co-founding CSR, Glenn held senior positions at Cambridge Consultants Ltd. (1996‐1998) and Marketing Manager at Texas Instruments (1989‐1996). He is a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and holds a B.Sc. in Physics and an M.Sc. in Electronics from Durham University, as well as an MBA from Cranfield University.

What is Neul’s mission?

 Neul is a complement of two great ideas which makes for a really great company, the ideas being on the one hand the use of TV White Space spectrum and the second M2M (machine to machine) communications.  This encompasses our mission statement – The Internet of Everything.

Would you see the terminology of the Internet of Things being changed to the “Internet of Everything” ?

Possibly.  That would be a natural progression. The internet of Everything is all encompassing and Neul’s present focus is on M2M which we are very good at but the technology will also be used to connect people as well.

Could you expand on this when you say for connecting people, can you explain?

 Starting with the topic of white space, this is the biggest change in the field of wireless communications since 3G with over 100 MHz of prime spectrum now available in the band that would have been chosen for cellular telephony had it been available 30 years ago.  This is ideal spectrum for long range wireless communications and is now available for free today in the US. This availability will be closely followed by the UK in 2013 catalysed with Weightless’ seal of approval from Ofcom this year.

The train has essentially left the station, with the UK’s liberalisation which will be closely followed by the European Union in 2014.  TV white space is a homolgated band meaning that the majority of the worlds TV broadcasters operate in the same spectrum – 100MHz to 700MHz.  So once there is a proven business model and a technology demand, there will be a key driver to adopt the same regulatory approach (worldwide).

The use of TV white space is a gigantic subsidy (in the order of $10 billion) effectively to the technology industry compared to the costs of licensed spectrum. A case in point is the £21m auction for 3G spectrum as an example.

Neul has the only few fully functional radio TV white space units which can be used for the Internet of Everything.  The biggest trial so far for TV white space operation  in the world was conducted between June 2011 and April 2012 in the UK by a consortium of cross industry groups.  The industries represented include the Broadcast Industry with BSkyB and BBC, the Telecommunications Industry, with BT,  the Technology World with Samsung and Nokia and finally Microsoft which was a key sponsor from a publicity and organisational perspective.

So this large group of companies partnered with Neul to design a  trial effectively equipping the City of Cambridge in the UK with white space coverage utilising several base stations.  A number of extensive tests were carried out to determine that that the use of this spectrum did not interfere with the TV and wireless microphones which are prime users of this band.  Significant detailed analysis was carried out with TV detector vehicles driving around Cambridge looking for whether the use of this network caused any problems with TV signals.

The results of the analysis were conclusive in the that the technology is benign and does not interfere with the other prime users as long as the Geo Location methodology approach is adopted.  With this positive outcome legislation will be passing through parliament later this year making it fully legal to use TV white space for machine to machine applications.

For a rural trial a base station was installed at Melbourn, a rural community south of Cambridge, and linked to a household in Orwell.  Residents in the hamlet were able to achieve download speeds of up to  8Mbps over a distance of 5.5 kilometres.  The result was successful with no break in service which has led Neul for its first commercial take up of Fixed Broadband Service in the US which will be rolled out in the UK in 2013.

You mentioned about Geolocation database, could you explain what you mean about that?

 The use of TV white space has been the debated for quite along time.  People have been aware of the very inefficient use of this spectrum and the increase in demand for mobile data has brought this into sharp focus.

The initial idea was based on cognitive radio either smart radio which would sense what signals were out there and  adjust in real time to avoid interfering with the prime users.  This proved to be a too significant a technological challenge and an alternative method was adopted using a Geo Location database.  This in essence is a central repository or knowledge base of all the prime users for the TV band (its a record of all the TV transmitters recorded in one database, ie their location, polarisation and power levels).  The database also includes other users in particular wireless microphones.

Will M2M usage affect people directly?

It is true to say that a person will not be able to purchase a M2M unit from a retail store.  Neul’s core technology is first of all a radio that works well in white space but it is deeper than that. Neul is bringing to the values of short range communication (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC) to long range communications. Neul’s technology is characterised by lower cost, a dollar or so silicon on the radio, very low power, so that the batteries work for a very long time (up to ten years) and as a result of that can be deeply embedded into many, many devices.

We are bringing that “core ethos”  to the world of long range communications and the basic methodology to do that is to use a spread spectrum technique, that is spread the signal out in time such that the power levels at which  one needs to transmit are reduced significantly without compromising the long range capability.

 “In a nut shell, Neul’s radios will cost a couple of dollars, they will work for 10 years off a small primary battery that does not need to be recharged and yet they will still transmit up to 10 kilometres.”

 That dramatic statement is the logical value add that Neul is bringing to the table.  There has been a massive technological barrier that has held back the the world of M2M communications. Neul has now addressed that.

When you mean everything, does that mean that if I lose my car keys I will be able to find them again using Google?

 Absolutely.  Effectively you will never lose your car keys again and why stop at that.  Never lose anything again.  The size of the device would be in the order of a key fob in a couple of years time which includes the chip, external electronics and the battery.

You will need a location based capability as well in there but with the cost of GPS coming down it wont be a problem. And then with the final icing on the cake, we can build into the Weightless specification an Indoor Location capability.  It wont be very finely tuned but it it will be a complementary technology in that the Weightless technology can triangulate and get a fix on any terminal through a Weightless base station to within 100m or so.

How can commercial companies use this technology?

 The real low hanging fruit is logistics, that is asset tracking whilst in transit outdoor.  There is a trial that is being carried in Cambridge,  over the summer holidays in which we have fitted our terminals into a local company’s trucks to demonstrate that we can accurately monitor their location with Weightless base stations.

Can you explain further the statement of “Internet of Everything”?

 Internet of everything rules nothing out and this has started with Neul’s roll out of fixed broad band communication in the US, and the major paradigm change for people would be with M2M internet of things unlocked by this revolution in the core technology via the ability to fit these very low cost, long battery life devices into everything.

Alongside with asset tracking there are thousands of industries that can use this connectivity.  Smart Cities with a parking lot, smart traffic with a  real time view of traffic and smart pollution monitoring to get a real time view of  where there is a problem.

Another application would be in disaster monitoring where an immediate real time assessment is priority. Our sensors can be dropped from the air via helicopter and have them give an instantaneous, real time view of key factors such as, temperature, flooding water levels and radiation.

And finally, the ageing society in the West is a great theme.  Neul’s high quality communication devices can be easily and cheaply embedded into home medical devices to help monitor sick people in the safety of their homes.

Effectively what we do is to democratise the availability to communications.

What about competitors?  Would you see Microsoft as a direct competitor?

 There is no other company doing exactly the same thing as Neul and on that basis there are no direct competitors.  Microsoft is not a competitor but seen as an enabler particularly through their “Geo Location  database” applicability.

Microsoft do take to a longer term view of how standards evolve and will tend to back standards that are intrinsic to enabling more connectivity.  Therefore Microsoft would view white space as a core enabler for more communications and therefore more value added to whom they are selling to.

In conclusion 2G and 3G are not sustainable for the M2M arena. White space offers the platform for Neul and Weightless to succeed.

From my Thesis: A discussion of privacy – no straightforward solution in sight

(I will be adding the references later this week)

Privacy issues are inherently important in the adoption of certain technologies and are often topics of discussion in the media. Alongside this a number of studies such as on carried out by the Context-Based Research Group highlighting the collapse of public versus private geographies has also been studied in relation to mobile phone use. This group is an organization of anthropologists and ethnographers studying consumer trends. The study found that due to mobile phones, communities are no longer limited by geography or their immediate physical surroundings (Context-Based Research Group,2002).

Mobile phones can be taken anywhere and individuals can communicate irrespective of geography – a frequent complaint of subjects in the study (Context-Based Research Group, 2002). Communication regarding “geographical locating”, as Eric Laurier terms it, is frequently observed during mobile phone calls (Laurier, 2001, p 485).Laurier claims that geographical locating, telling someone where one is located whilst on the mobile phone occurs because you do not share the same time or space with that person (Laurier, 2001), as, for example informing a friend who is not sharing the same geographical location as the person making the call. Geographical locating therefore attempts to bridge the disconnection between person and place (Laurier, 2001), also referred to as “disconnected urbanism” (Goldberger, 2003). Cities, a place where people from different walks of life come together, have changed due to the proliferation of mobile phones and the fact that “half of [the people] are elsewhere” (Goldberger 2003). The outcome is that public spaces are becoming increasingly private spaces (Goldberger 2003); a significant effect within society.

In contrast, location-based services (LBSs) raise concerns about the loss of privacy – a concern that private information is becoming increasingly public. The fact that someone other than the individual with the mobile device knows where that person is located and has the ability to track the individual is widely considered disconcerting (Cantos et al., 2001; Divis, 2000; Hamblen and Brewen, 2001).

According to a study done on consumer interest in LBSs by the Driscoll-Wolfe Marketing & Research Consulting firm (Muehlenhaus 2004), subjects also stated their concern over the potential loss of privacy (Barnes, 2002). The potential ‘big brother’ effect with the use of LBSs has some consumers worried (Driscoll, 2002).

Yet, according to Clement Driscoll, in relation to the Driscoll-Wolfe study (Muehlenhaus 2004), most people feel that the “potential benefits outweigh the drawbacks” and are “receptive to the notion of location-based advertising, if it is not intrusive and will reduce their service fees” (Driscoll, 2002).  Despite these positive responses concerning LBS growth, a report by the ARC, stated that uncertainty surrounding privacy issues made operators cautious about deploying LBSs (PR Newswire, 2002).

Privacy applies to “information-handling practices of an organization and the processing of personal information through all stages of its (the information’s) life cycle, including collection,[…] consultation and use, […] and erasure and destruction” (Marcella and Stucki, 2003,p xii).  It has also been defined as “a concept that relates to individuals, and their desire to guard against intrusion, appropriation, or breach of confidence” (Goodchild 2001). Personal identifiable information (PII) can include a person’s name, address, phone number, social security number, etc., allowing a person to be contacted, located, and identified (Marcellaand Stucki, 2003, p xii). Individual information combined with household data collected by the census has been referred to as ‘geodemographic information’ (Curry, 1998), using the prefix ‘geo-’ to signify location information. Increasingly, such information concerning individuals has been made available for government and corporate use (Curry, 1998).

Ways of regulating privacy differ due to country or continent location and becomes apparent when comparing privacy regulations in the US and EU for example. The US has traditionally shied away from creating all-encompassing privacy protection laws for its citizens and has instead established reactive policies (Bagby, 2003,p 442; White, 1997, p 232-33). This may be explained by cultural lag theory, which claims that government regulations generally lag behind technological development and advancement (Ogburn, 1964). In contrast, the EU has pre-empted technological adoption with comprehensive consumer rights protection, also called the omnibus method to privacy concerns (Bagby, 2003, p 442; White, 1997, p 232). The result of this would be quite interesting: technological innovation and diffusion of LBS may advance quickly due to little regulation, as in the US, and maybe limited by laws already in place, such as in the EU.

 

The Origins of LBS Checkin

The idea of the Checkin was first conceptualised by Dennis Crowley, the founder of DodgeBall. Crowley was the initial advocate for advocating the concept of geo-location social networks and the idea of using mobile technology to “check in” to physical locations. Dennis Crowley and co-founder Alex Rainert started Dodgeball in 2000 to transform mobile devices into a platform where users could text their location to reveal friends, friends of friends and interesting venues nearby.

In reality Dodgeball was one of the first mobile social services in the US. While it was ahead of its time, it would reveal the birth of an entirely new kind of social network, one that wouldn’t see its first true mainstream adoption until almost a decade after its debut.

Before Twitter and Facebook entered the world of social media the pair ushered in a new era of geo-location social networks and introduced the act of digitally “checking in” to physical locations.

Dodgeball was acquired by Google in 2005 who kept the founding team and the brand gained attention in the digital media sector due to the clout that Google had (and has) that time. Unfortunately due to the lack of take up by mobile users and the emergence of Twitter the attention that the company achieved finally dissipated leaving it in an obscure situation.

This catalysed Crowley to leave Google and after a two year hiatus Dodgeball was “closed” by Google in 2009. He then headed Foursquare (then called Dodgeball), a mobile social networking game that encourages people to “check in” online to places they visit in the real world – bars, restaurants, Starbucks – in order to accrue points.