Amidst the feverish fan frenzy of promotional duties for Star Wars: The Force Awakens late last year, star Harrison Ford often told the story of how he used to be a carpenter before becoming Han Solo.
In fact, had he not won the iconic role back in 1976, Ford may very well be professionally putting hammer to nail this very day.
Interestingly, he is not alone in the completely-different-jobs-before-my-career department. Did you know that Hugh Jackman was once a high school gym teacher and Kurt Cobain a janitor, for example?
Not to be outdone, the CEO of positioning technologies platform provider Proximi.io, Annina Koskiola, also had a very different focus when opportunity came knocking a few years ago.
“I am actually an archaeologist,” she explains. “I did my master’s in museum curating – modern art. My thesis research was on how applications are used inside museums.”
For this Koskiola sought a tool that could guide visitors around the museum and react to their physical location. However, when researching the necessary tech, she came up empty-handed.
“I called my sister’s husband, who’s our CTO now, and asked him why aren’t museums using indoor positioning technologies,” Koskiola recalls. “He said it’s a really complicated field; it’s not as easy as outdoor GPS. That’s where the whole idea started rolling.”
And roll it did. Straight past the idea of a single app into a much wider playing field.
Locating a problem
Proximi.io is a technology-agnostic platform that embraces a variety of positioning technologies via a single API. Free to begin using, the platform caters to Indoor Atlas, Ibeacon, Eddystone beacons, Wi-Fi, GPS and cellular navigation.
“During the last three years there have been a lot of new indoor navigation technologies popping up, but the field is also really confusing,” Koskiola says. “We make it really easy and simple for developers who want to use location awareness on their apps.”
The platform enables a variety of rich geo-targeted action flow chains. Position data in complex interactions is leveraged easily, including push and fetch information from external databases, as well as adding shifts and rules, and automatising IoT devices. Furthermore, Proximi.io can be used to collect anonymous analytics about each specific app user’s movements.
Unsurprisingly, many have sat up and taken notice. Most notable among these was Nordic business angel syndicate NordicBAN, whose members last year invested 300 000 euros in the company.
With this capital boost facilitating the launch of the platform to overwhelmingly enthusiastic receptions at SXSW in Austin and CeBIT in Hannover, the future is looking very bright for Proximi.io.
Marketing the market
Above all, the biggest interest group for such location-aware app development comprises retailers targeting passing shoppers and tracking customers in store.
“Indoor mobile marketing is really big in the States,” Koskiola observes. “One-third of the biggest retailers there have already started piloting with beacons, or are planning to do so. Research has said that 3.5 million beacons will be installed in various retailers by the end of 2018.”
Even so, Koskiola remains reluctant to limit Proximi.io’s relevance to one specific sector. She lists gyms, events and tracking one’s assets as some other potential uses for the technology, also making note of a university project charting attendance and a workplace app for monitoring employee movements.
Situated among all this potential, Koskiola also remains hopeful of realising her original vision.
“I still have thoughts on museums,” she states. “It is a sector that could really benefit from indoor positioning.”