Bluedot Co-Founder on Creating A Geofencing Product
Creating a Geofencing Product: Fixing GPS Battery and Accuracy Problems
Bluedot is a company that specializes in incredibly high accuracy location data. Even more accurate than the GPS on your phone’s operating system. It provides most companies with the ability to get an unprecedented view of their customers. In addition, they receive insights as to how they behave in the physical world. This allows companies to tie in their physical behavior with high-value interactions and services to those customers.
It all started when we wanted to build a smartphone application with location payments. As we started looking into this, we realized very quickly that GPS will drain the battery out of the smartphone. So that really wasn’t going to be feasible for us. Then we looked at hardware-based solutions, such as Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi, and other similar solutions. Soon, we realized that we don’t own or control these locations in question. So we couldn’t scale hardware. Plus, high-speed transport, like cars driving 100 MPH, didn’t work with hardware solutions. We then looked at geofencing technologies.
So the way that geofencing works is that it lets us identify when we use a smartphone app in an area. At which point, an action is triggered such as a location-based push message or something similar. It sounded like what we needed. But the problem was that geofencing has some very substantial drawbacks. The main one being that GPS drained so much battery.
But there are additional challenges if you want to charge location-based payments very reliably and deliver a frictionless experience to customers. The main challenge was that there were no accurate technologies that met our criteria. Unsurprisingly, we realized that our product was not feasible at the time. So like any startup worth its salt, we decided to go and build it anyway.
Problem Solving Journey
When we started, we learned that phones get about four hours battery life when using GPS all the time. So we started looking at levels of battery drain from high accuracy, location detection, and influence. Before the battery drain, your phone typically dies in about eight hours. So we realized that we needed to build something that works on completely different principles.
What we actually did is that we started thinking about location technologies in a very different way compared to most companies. So the first problem that we realized was how do we get past that immense amount of battery drain due to the GPS? And the way that we approach that, initially, was that we started thinking a little bit outside of the box and introducing concepts from biology into location technologies.
So we took inspiration from a bat’s use of echolocation. This is something that we recognized that did not exist within existing systems. Then we developed a way to utilize all sensors in the smartphone. We utilized GPS, Wi-Fi, GSM, accelerometers, gyroscopes, you name it. If there was a sensor in the phone, we utilized it. And what we did is we’ve developed a bit of IP that lets us understand the context of how consumers behave.
So what this means is that we can only drain a GPS level battery drain for a very, very short amount of time. So when you space that out throughout the day, what it actually means is that you’re not draining the battery, but you’re getting high accuracy whenever you need it.