Location Based Services stagnates due to “Privacy Concerns”

Privacy issues are inherently important in the adoption of certain technologies, particularly to Location Based Services. In 2003 a Context Based Research Group report highlighted the collapse of public versus private geographies referencing mobile phone use. Further research carried out by Driscoll (2002) highlighted that consumers would use location Based Services as long as the potential benefits outweighed the drawbacks and were receptive to the notion of location based advertising, if it was not intrusive and reduced their fees.

The latest Pew Report has brought to the fore that the adoption of Location Based Services by the consumer is stagnating as compared to other services such as video calling. Video calling on mobile phones is finally going mainstream, with usage increasing from 7% of cell phone owners in 2010 to 21% in 2013. But growth in location-sharing is fizzling badly, increasing from 5% in 2011 to just 8% in 2013.

This can be further contrasted by comparing income levels. Video calling grows in popularity the more money consumers make — it is used by 16% of people making less than $30,000 and by 29% of people making more than $75,000. Nearly all advanced mobile services follow this pattern; usage increases the more sophisticated the consumers get. But this is not what is happening with location-sharing services. Those services are used by 9% of people making less than $30,000, and just 7% of people making more than $75,000.

Certain other interesting variables have been highlighted in the report. Location sharing is apparently used less by the more educated consumers. The most likely issue is privacy with the more educated Americans are more likely to fret about the implications of sharing their location data.

This backed up by the following data. 10% of phone owners without high school diplomas are into location-sharing — but just 7% of college educated phone owners use related services.

Privacy has been an ongoing issue in the adoption of Location Based Services. With out a proper resolution where the consumer trusts this technology, Location Based Service will stagnate. Location Based Services is potentially the most relevant data that marketers would be able to use.

The next article will introduce Locomizer as potential resolution to the privacy problem.

Driscoll, C (2002, July). What do Consumers Really Think?.  GPS World, 13, p34-37

Back from the Wilderness with Linux

This is a first of a series of posts looking at alternative Mobile devices and Operating Systems that are not as well known as the “Big Boys” (you know which ones I am referring to) and their impact on the Location Based Services Ecosystem.

I have used Linux for 6 years now but only as an alternative to Windows. However for the last 8 months or so I have been focused in understanding the command line and with the advent of re-flashing my Nokia N900 due to a faulty camera (the fault is with a bug in the module for the flash operation) I have decided today, to give a very brief overview of my thoughts.

So why would I use a 3 year phone? For two main reasons. First because Easy Debian (a customised version of a flavour called Debian) can be installed on the external microSD card which allows for a fully functioning Debian system. The icing on the cake is the Nokia N900 can be used as a device for browsing through the Iceweasel browser with addons, giving a level of privacy which other mobiles phones are unable to do.  I don’t have to sign in to use a repository update or download a program (app) and let Google or any other pernicious OS use my behaviour to build a profile and sell that data with out my knowledge. In a world where privacy is a luxury, the Nokia N900 and other similar devices allow me to partake of this precious fruit.

And secondly, because of the Mer project as well as Nemo OS both of which are closely related to Tizen and Sailfish OS – to be explained further in my next post.  With the advent of these new Mobile OS’s (Tizen and Sailfish)  and the new Mozilla Phones, the privacy issue could be re-addressed and brought back in balance from a world where corporates are aware of one’s every move.

The Nokia N900 is not as powerful as the newer Android or iPhone cousins but there is a level of pliability which comes with the territory when using Linux which is not experienced with the newer OS. There are restrictions whilst using Easy Debian because it is used in conjunction with Maemo (the underlying OS driving the N900) but I still have to understand what those mean as I am in the latter stages in “cutting my teeth” with the system.

My sole focus was on Arch Linux as I feel I was blinded by the sheer difficult learning curve that I had to endure whilst mastering a level which would place me in the non noob grade. What changed my perception is the advent of another unstable OS distro entitled Aptosid. This post mentioned the blog writers migration from Arch to this “Sid” distro highlighting a key issue related to the security of the package manager (which Arch has addressed). This was enough for push for me to use this in conjuction with Arch.

Debian is one system that I have always liked but not really understood – I found it to be a bit regimented for my liking but Aptosid showed me that it can be as flexible as Arch. But most importantly it taught me the community was more open about how secure one can and has to be with solutions for every scenario.

So what is the next step?  I’m looking at flashing Nemo OS on the second N900 to test how good it is.

Next post will cover the Mer project and the new Firefox OS.

Lessons of Software Development Management by Linus Torvalds

If anyone knows the joys and sorrows of managing software development projects, it would be Linus Torvalds, creator of the world’s most popular open-source software program: the Linux operating system. For more than 20 years, Torvalds has been directing thousands of developers to improve the open source OS. He and I sat down to talk about effective techniques in running large-scale distributed programming teams – and the things that don’t work, too.

Torvalds says there are two things that people very commonly get completely wrong, both at an individual developer level and at companies.

“The first thing is thinking that you can throw things out there and ask people to help,” when it comes to open-source software development, he says. “That’s not how it works. You make it public, and then you assume that you’ll have to do all the work, and ask people to come up with suggestions of what you should do, not what they should do. Maybe they’ll start helping eventually, but you should start off with the assumption that you’re going to be the one maintaining it and ready to do all the work.”

Torvalds continues, “If you start off with some ‘kumba-ya feeling’ where you think people from all the world are going to come together to make a better world by working together on your project, you probably won’t be going very far.”

For the full post please click here

23rd IoT Meetup

I attended the 23rd IOT Meetup in London last night. They say that the number 23 has some mysterious significance and truth be told I think that could be the truth. The event was an exciting as ever but more so with the quality of speakers that presented last night. The following is brief breakdown of the event..

The meetup was hosted at the Head Office of Xively.  Xively is a Platform as a Service that provides everything you need to simplify and accelerate the creation of compelling connected products and solutions.

The first speaker was David Ryan who was discussing Argot software development kit he has developed over a period of ten years with a live demonstration. Basically Argot is a series of tools and libraries designed to help software developers build languages for the Internet of Things.  It uses the concept of a compact extensible metadata dictionary that can be embedded on the smallest of devices. The Argot dictionary allows devices to store and document the structure of the data they use in communication.

The next speaker was the most intriguing of all.  Rachel Rayns is self driven entrepreneur, Artist & Maker and Raspberry Pi Fan.  Rachel discussed her transition to being the first Artist in Residence at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  Her full presentation can be found by clicking the here.  Rachel’s main goal is talking about the Pi’s potential as a tool for artists.

The last speaker was Dominique Guinard who talked about the developments of Android as the Universal Gateway for IoT.   Dominique’s talk covered the developments of QR codes, Near Field Communication and Arduino in IoT. Dominique’s full profile can be found here.

Finally a big thank you to Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Founder of the Good Night Lamp and a major influence in making sure that IoT London Meetup runs smoothly.

The One Touch Fire for less than $1 !!

FireFox OS Phones are in the process of being launched. The first Firefox OS phone, the ZTE Open, made its debut on July 2 in Spain via Telefonica. Now the company has officially launched the Alcatel One Touch Fire via Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile Poland. They have started selling the Firefox OS phone on July 12th online and it will be available in stores starting on July 15th.

Firefox is planning to make the phone available through Deutsche Telekom’s various subsidiaries to Germany, Hungary, and Greece in the coming Autumn. The United States will see the phone in 2014.

The price points are very attractive; The One Touch Fire (being sold in Poland) featuring a 3.5-inch, 480-by-320-pixel display will cost less than $1 “in combination with a very attractive tariff,”.

alcatel-one-touch-fire-2

Deutsche Telekom’s announcement comes only days after Telefonica Movistar in Spain started selling the first commercial device supporting Firefox OS – the ZTE Open – for €69.

zte-open-ofic

The rollout of Firefox OS devices follows the announcement at Mobile World Congress in February 2013 that more than 20 operators and handset vendors would support the new platform.

The key behind Firefox’s strategy is to bring the a smartphone experience at a low price point, with a particular focus on emerging markets. The question is, how will this impact on Android and Apple?

Source: PCMag

#geomob London

I managed to get to a very exciting meetup this week entitled #geomob based at the Google Campus in London. This is the first meetup that I attended in a few months and I was not disappointed. The meetup is one of the leading events for the open source geo community.

All the companies that presented looked at the most innovative ways of mapping data. First off was a Noah Veltman who mapped the history of San Fransicso streets. He discussed the various pros and cons of the project which can be followed by clicking this link http://sfstreets.noahveltman.com/

Savio Dimatteo a software engineer for Lokku-Nestoria discussed some of Nestoria’s geocoding challenges. Nestoria is one of the leading property search engines in the UK.  The UK is particularly easy to map but the talk covered issues related to mapping places where data is very limited such as India.

Michael Tandy is a software developer for the online grocery delivery company Ocado. Michael discussed the false ideas that programmers have about names, time and geography with numerous examples of all. Michael’s site is http://www.mjt.me.uk/

Raymond Kenney, the co-founder of Inquiron and Mapsdata show cased Mapsdata services. The service is a user friendly program that helps to visualise sales, demographic and social data in very easy steps. Interpretation is more effective than the use of spreadsheets and is illustrated in an innovative way that helps to visualise complex results. Cross-correlation of various data sets such as World Bank Data, Twitter and other open data. For further information please click the following link: http://www.mapsdata.co.uk/

The most exciting presentation was by the co-founders of ViziCities. Peter Smart and Rob Hawkes’ main inspiration was SIM City, which I am sure that you have played at one time or another. Vizicities is effectively a real time version of the game with many potential applications which include gaming, infrastructure projection as well as social study.

In conclusion, London is hosting the most exciting and cutting edge innovative companies in the world. Mapping big data is not just about analysis but also about presentation.

Firefox Phones Launched

The first Firefox OS phones have just gone on sale. Geeksphone has released two models, the Keon and the Peak both of which feature Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. The Keon has a slower single-core model, while the Peak has a faster dual-core chip; both devices have 512 RAM and 4G of storage space, and the Keon has a 3.5 inch screen while the Peak packs a larger 4.3-inch display.

Click the following link for fuller details: www.geeksphone.com They have sold out almost immediatley once they went on sale. However, there is an option to try out the new OS – as Sony hasn’t released a device for the new OS, Firefox have released a Firefox OS ROM for the Xperia E which can be played with.

Source: Linux Format Magazine

Tizen – a replacement for Android?

Tizen is the next OS that can be termed as a true linux OS which will be made available to the market at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

Tizen is an open source OS and software platform for all sorts of computers but mainly mobile devices. This means that Tizen should eventually offer the same environment and applications for use on netbooks, smart TV’s and in cars. Development has already started on a Tizen In-vehicle Infotainment platform which would make Tizen applications be made available on cars, buses and airplanes

The Tizen platform is hosted by the Linux Foundation. There is a Tizen Association that looks after marketing and education, and handles requirements gathering and other functions – but the important decisions are taken by the Technical Steering Group. Currently the two largest active members are Intel and Samsung. Other Tizen partners with different levels of commitment which include manufactures such as Panasonic, Fujistu and mobile operators such as NTT Docomo, Sprint and Vodafone.

Tizen aims to be a successor to Maemo, Moblin, the LiMo Foundation and the Bada/Wave platform from Samsung. This begs a question, does the market need another Linux-based mobile OS? Diversity is good – but the answer is more political then that. In the past there were four main players in the smartphone market. Apple, with its OS running on its own hardware, Nokia and Microsoft, Google and HTC and finally Samsung which is running a successful campaign with Android.

The reason for Samsung developing Tizen could be related “because they can” and there should be diversity in the market. But this then begs the question wether the apps would be able to be ported over from Android and Bada? Apparently that would be possible because of the “Application Compatabilty Layer” from OpenMobile.

OpenMobile specifically deals with OEMs (Original Equipement Manufacturers) and mobile operators and its main business model is to put ACL inside phones before they are on sale. OpenMobile does offer a free ACL app, an online AppMail for ACL users, and another app to browse it. The AppMail integrates 10 stores in one single catalogue of more than 250,000 Android apps.

How does Tizen work? Tizen has been developed based on two assumptions; first that Android Apps maybe recompiled or just used with ACL and the second that the future belongs to HTML5-based applications making the OS optimised for that set of technologies.

Tizen has Linux at its core; the stack begins with a modified linux kernel and a set of device drivers. On top of that, from bottom to top, the so called Core, a native framework and a Web Framework. The Core subsystem consists of basic, common open source libraries and API’s.

The Native Framwork is a bundle of system services and libraries, packaged in namespaces. There are namespaces for graphics, location support, security and much more. All together, the namespaces provide thousands of open interfaces with which native applications can be built. The Web framework provides HTML5 support and integration with all the basic services, from audio and video to geolocation and messaging.

Tizen is now on its second stable release (2.0) entitled Magnolia which arrived at the beginning of 2013. It brought several native applications and new hardware API’s, with bluetooth and NFC support.

Source of information is Linux Format Magazine

Firefox Smartphone – catalyst for change?

Firefox Operating System (OS) started life in July 2011 as Boot to Gecko, a Mozilla project aimed at creating a slimmed down operating system for mobile devices. The structure and philosophy behind the project was very simple and is now coming into full fruition. It is built on a straightforward premise that the web is a platform and therefore is the heart of the user experience.

What this means is there is a directness between the hardware abstraction layer and the web with no extraneous layers between the Kernel, Gecko (the Firefox engine) and Gaia (the user interface). So Gaia is written in Javascript and the OS uses customised version of Gecko to enhance and facilitate high end performance.

What else makes Firefox OS stand apart from Android and iOS is the simple and trans formative idea that the prevailing code of native apps, locked down platforms, proprietary software stores and capricious developer rules is limiting and unnecessary and can be transformed by web based apps that interact with stripped down and optimised OS that does little else but act like a phone and converse with the web.

This all may seem a bit idealistic but Firefox will be fulfilling unmet needs and opportunities by running high grade web apps on a low end feature phones thus delivering a better smart phone experience to a higher proportion of the population worldwide.

Mozilla is planning to make Firefox OS accessible to 2 billion people who have never experienced an affordable, fully hackable mobile OS before. This opens up a multitude of different opportunities to developers in a culture where the governing rules for the ecosystem will be looser which will lead to freedom and innovation.

So what is the ideal market for this? Well, 58 per cent of devices sold in Latin America that cost less than $100. This market is out of reach for iOS or Android but is a perfect fit for Firefox which has a lighter footprint and can act as a vehicle for web apps and low end devices.

In conclusion the killer USP is the software which is optimised for low end devices, where Firefox OS and its apps are one layer closer to the hardware; so less memory and CPU is needed to give the same performance as on high end devices. This could conclusively change the dynamics of the smartphone market as it stands today.

Android restricts MTP access on Linux

If you are running a Linux box you may not be able to transfer files from your Android Device. Starting with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the OS switched to MTP from USB Mass Storage mode for access to the device’s storage via USB. MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) carries several benefits over USB Mass Storage. Unlike the latter, MTP allows you to simultaneously access the storage on both the device as well as the computer. Also, with MTP, corrupt file transfers are theoretically much less probable.

While accessing the storage via MTP from a Windows PC or a Mac is a piece of cake due to excellent driver support, doing so in Linux can be a hassle, as the OS doesn’t ship with said support by default. Why Android have decided on this restriction, I have no idea but I have found a small program in Arch’s AUR repositories which allows access.

gMTP.

There are no restrictions on the types of files gMTP can handle as it has the ability to handle all metadata correctly for all media files. And gMTP handles both internal and external media as well.

In conclusion this exercise has helped to better understand MTP and had given me the option to run various programs that I would not of been interested in if there was no restriction.

Making Sense of Location Based Services