Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More on Enkin, the Android killer app

AndroidGuys blogged yesterday about Enkin, an Android application that overlays data on Google Maps and Street View. Today, Wikinomics has a demo. They explain it pretty well:
Using the camera and screen, with labels injected, the Android powered mobile device becomes something of a magical lense [sic] that can be used to provide us with digital information about the world, overlayed on the world itself, as intermediated by the device. So far the Enkin guys have set this up to work with locations that have been tagged in their map view, but imagine the possibilities if it could integrate with all of the Geodata that’s tagged in Google Earth. You could also integrate this with social mobility services, and set your name to public, then strangers on the street could take a look at you through their phone and see your name floating above your head like in a videogame. Businesses could also geotag deals that they are running, and you’d set your Enkin-enabled device in “deal hunter live mode” where you’d see overlays on businesses including distance and deal. The list goes on and the possibilities are great.
No kidding, the possibilities are great. Enkin has the promise of fundamentally changing location-based services. The "magic lens" metaphor is a good one, since theoretically you could select one or more frames to overlay on the world. For instance,
  • if you're visiting a city as a tourist, you might select a frame that has pretagged tourist attractions
  • if you're there strictly for a conference, you might instead select (or create) a custom frame with only the conference buildings
  • if you're more interested in a historical tour, you could load that frame
  • if you're working on infrastructure, you could see metadata on streets and bridges, or normally invisible features such as underground cables. Imagine being able to tap into a database of traffic accidents to instantly spot dangerous intersections, or being able to detect cables so that you don't snap them with your backhoe when starting a construction project.
But forget these sideshows, because the real killer app will be when you cross Enkin with a location-based social networking system like, well, Google's Jaiku.
  • if you're at a conference, and you want to see where your acquaintances are, you can scan the building and look for concentrations of friends
  • if you're coworking, you can find out which coffee shop has your collaborators
  • if you're on campus trying to find a colleague's office, you can look through your "magic lens"
Jaiku is currently being migrated to Google App Engine and should relaunch soon. Coincidentally, the first Android phone will probably be presold from T-Mobile in September and delivered in mid-October. I expect the Jaiku relaunch will include the ability to pull data from your Android phone's GPS chip.

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