Geo This, Geo That

Geography is kind of important, yet is so often overlooked. As an academic field, Geography studies places and people’s relationships with their physical environment. Bootmark is leveraging the importance of geography, or location, to improve our experiences with the places we happen to be in. But we’re not alone and we're OK with that. In this blog post I’d like to explore some trends and other existing apps that also use location to help us out in our daily interactions. 

With the ubiquity of GPS in nearly all our devices, we are almost always able to pinpoint, with increasing accuracy, where we are on our planet. Our smart phones are the most consistent devices to utilize this technology; but with the recent popularity of wearable tech this segment continues to grow. Think of the Nike’s you own and how they work with an app to track your runs, or your ski jacket and how it can help rescue you in an emergency, or your smart watch that tracks your route throughout the day. This notion of “tracking” has all become normalized in our every day life. But does it really make our lives better?

Foursquare has been a long time innovator in the realm of focusing on location to ensure other users benefit through place-based reviews and “checking in” at places to let your friends know where you've been. Swarm became an offshoot or extension of Foursquare’s applicability in the sense of knowing where your nearby friends are while to gamifying aspects of our daily life.

The most recent splash in the location-based app domain is Pokemon GO. Have you ever seen so many people out in your local parks or legislature building staring at their phones in droves? What a phenomenon. And we won’t mention how many near misses or head-on collisions occurred with these players. The simple fact that users were required to explore geography - travel a distance - to reach new levels of the game, physically asked something of the user. However, there is a side of Pokemon GO that has bugged me: I wanted to explore more than was on the map. This is something we have focused on with Bootmark, the ability to explore locally or globally. We are all “digital tourists” exploring different cities and places through maps, images, and videos, regardless if we will ever actually step foot in that place.

There are other location-based apps that can improve our daily lives, such as Gas Buddy, which informs you of gas prices near you. This can save you money on a road trip or your everyday commute. Waze serves as a hybrid of crowd-sourced traffic information, helping you get real-time information to make your trip as quick as possible.  Another simple and often overlooked, yet deeply psychological, application feature is built within Apple Reminders, called “Remind me at a location.” Geographer, Yi-Fu Tuan, explained throughout his career how important a place is in relation to memory. Apple picked up on this, and built into their application the opportunity for users to choose geography over time to be the reminder of a task. Once someone enters a specifically set geographical radius, the app triggers a notification to the user similar to an alarm going off once a designated time is achieved. Bootmark is headed in a similar direction.

We have already developed the ability to post content to specific locations; however, we are working on the development of location-based messaging to further enhance our digital and physical realms. We want users to have the ability to access the functionality and excitement of places to interact with people in new ways. For example, with Bootmark, you will be able to leave a love note for your significant other that will be triggered the moment they walk in the door. Or you will be able to set a time delay on messages for your kid's birthday party scavenger hunt in the park that will lead them to the next clue. This is just another of the ways we see Bootmark enriching our daily lives by engaging our daily geographies in electrifying, yet simple ways.

We aren't alone in this location-based app segment and we are excited by that because we know competition only makes us better.  

Scott Varga