You are here / And Skyhook knows it

You are here And Skyhook knows it

By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff | January 21, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - In the geek equivalent of a Super Bowl ad, Skyhook Wireless got a shoutout at the Macworld expo last week, putting the Boston technology firm in the same company as tech giants like Intel Corp. and Google Inc.

Apple Inc.'s chief executive, Steve Jobs, revealed in his keynote speech that Skyhook helps power a new location-awareness feature that's available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. It allows the sleek devices to home in on their current location using WiFi technology.

"There's no GPS inside the phone . . . how do we actually arrive at the location?" Jobs said, demonstrating the location-finding ability on an iPhone by plotting a route from the convention center to the nearest Apple store - without having to type in his starting point.

"We're working with two companies to do that: Google, and a company called Skyhook Wireless . . . we're using both of them, and it works pretty doggone well," he said.

Skyhook's technology uses signals from WiFi hot spots to triangulate and find a person's location, instead of using a chip that lets a mobile device communicate with the satellite-based Global Positioning System.

Skyhook, founded in 2003 by Ted Morgan and Michael Shean, has gathered and catalogued the WiFi fingerprint of streets in thousands of US cities and towns by driving along roads and collecting the unique signatures of 23 million WiFi signals that flow out of houses, businesses, and public access points. The company uses that data to let WiFi-enabled devices know where they are.


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Monty Solomon
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