Think You Know IoT Location Targeting? Think Again When It Comes To Wearables

Years of refining geo-data to understand and serve ads to smartphones has finally started to make sense for marketers and agencies. But the Internet of Things will require mobile experts to do some relearning.

The rise of the Internet of Things as an outgrowth of connected mobile technology would seem to provide a natural path for brands that have adopted geo-data as a key driver of their interactive programs.

But David Bairstow, VP of Product at location data platform Skyhook Wireless, suggests that there are some important differences between employing location technology on mobile and IoT products.

“The main differences are the tech specs of the device,” Bairstow says. “Smartphones now have clock speeds that are 32,000 times faster than the Apollo era computers that put man on the moon. Wearables typically focus on tiny form factors, which come with dramatically less processing power, battery and memory.”

Therefore, providing location for wearables requires tech that has a smaller physical footprint and sends less data on and off device, Bairstow says.

And not coincidentally, that’s what Skyhook has launched today. Its Precision Location for Wearables software is intended to provide a location stack that can work for any device, regardless of its size, he says.

Skyhook’s Precision Location for Wearables uses a binary protocol to send and receive location data, with all transmissions secured by the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Those signals can be added to Skyhook’s hybrid positioning solution, so that wearable devices can be located with a degree of precision whether it uses any combination of GPS, cell and/or wi-fi radio signals.

And while there might be a learning curve when it comes to applying geo-data strategies from mobile to IoT, there is at least one advantage in this transition for marketers.

Late last year, Skyhook highlighted the challenge for location services on mobile apps. Essentially, consumers say that location services are “crucial” for making their apps work better, but just 50 percent keep their geo signals “on.”

Since wearables are pretty much always recording data when in use, Bairstow says it’s reasonable to assume that “the challenge is lower for wearables where location provides obvious value to the user — geo-tagged photos, running routes or personal safety solutions (kid trackers, mPers, etc).”

An early tester this Skyhook’s IoT platform is wearable camera maker Narrative. By integrating Skyhook’s global Precision Location solution, Narrative’s users now have the ability to geotag photos and videos with unmatched precision.

“The best moments in our lives are unplanned, and Narrative’s wearable cameras allow people to authentically and seamlessly capture those memories through photo and video in real time,” says Martin Kallstrom, Narrative’s CEO. “But without context, the value of that content decreases. Through our collaboration with Skyhook, people will record these moments with higher precision in the location context — with a simple tap of a finger.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.