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Saturday, August 30, 2008

WHERE am I? know by Xohm

Location-based services are finally hitting the big time this year. With Apple's inclusion and promotion of location enabled features on the iPhone, the stage has been set for a mass market adoption. Sprint has announced that its upcoming WiMAX service dubbed Xohm (we reviewed a demonstration of the service last fall) will feature a wide range of location-based features and services that will be available to users of the service regardless of whether they're on a mobile device or a laptop.

Sprint has teamed up with uLocate to use the company's WHERE platform, which will integrate with Xohm's geospatial system composed of GPS and cell tower multilateration, and will provide access to several data brokers like Yelp (an online urban city guide with reviews of restaurants and other businesses), Topix (geotagged news aggregator), Eventful (a directory of local events), NAVTEQ (real-time local traffic), and AccuWeather (they do weather, oddly enough).
Perhaps surprisingly, Sprint is committed to opening up the location platform by creating an API for developers to integrate into their own software. Sprint claims that these APIs and location services will be available to all devices on the Xohm networks, whether they be cell phones, laptops, or music players.
The only limitation right now seems to be that Sprint has limited the information to being displayed and interacted with on a special web portal that the company controls. This could limit the types of applications that developers can create—standalone and native applications utilizing the location data as is done on the iPhone doesn't appear to be possible in the initial iteration of the service. As of yet, there is no word on the details and specifications for this API, or when it will be made available.
Xohm with uLocate's WHERE platform will launch in Baltimore next month, and Chicago and Washington, DC shortly thereafter.

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