Thursday, September 20, 2001

8/11/2006; 2:29:25 AM

Where is my family? My friends? Location services will tell ...
This is a company that is really on the right track ... Wherify Wireless ... in creating innovative new hardware and software solutions. They are creating a hardware device (estimated to be <$300) that will provide Pager/GPS/Cellular-Modem capabilities ... which will allow the wearer of the device to be "tracked" via the web.

Their premise is that parents want to know where their children are. People want to track pets that might get lost. Various people will want to track other people who might wander away. There are, of course, a number of implications to this type of service. I predict that there are going to be numerous services that appear like this one, and that the real breakthroughs in this market will occur when standardized hardware, and software, appear on the market. There are some reasons why I predict that Wherify will have a great tactical business, but will have to make significant shifts as we move forward in time:

1. I don't like their business model, since it begs to be "broken" in the future. They are counting on their proprietary hardware solution to tie people to a service that they will charge for on a monthly basis. Being in the hardware business is a tough market, especially when the functionality that they are creating is going to be standard parts of the upcoming PDAs and wearable computers. When all of our mobile devices have wireless connectivity, and GPS capabilities, we'll be able to provide this capabilites ourselves.

2. The second part of their business model that I don't care for, is that there is the possibility of privacy concerns. Do you trust Wherify? Do you trust who they might provide your data to? How secure are their storage facilities? Might a "break-in" to their servers provide some access to where your children are? This type of locatin service does not require a centralized service, although there are some benefits. My team and I are working on this type of service, using commodity PDAs, GPS, and CDPD modems, to provide the same kinds of capabilities ... without anyone else monitoring where we are. We are creating a much more distributed solution ... almost peer to peer. To me, the success of this market will occur when the devices are standards based, and readily available. Along with this, software will appear on the market which allow the unit to talk directly to your own home monitoring system ... or to an organization of your choice!

3. I also wonder about the various issues ... this service introduces some very wild situations!
I want to track my friend ... I buy an account and toss the unit in their jacket pocket. Or I attach the unit under their car. The ability to "slip" one of these devices into someone's clothing or transportation opens up a whole new world of PI and detective work!

In any case, I am now on a mission to talk with a wide range of vendors at Comdex about these devices, and the possibilities surrounding them ...


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