Checkin to Foursquare by Taking a Picture

January 6th, 2010 4 Comments

I know I predicted that geo would be left at the altar 2010, but I think there’s huge potential in geo services.

Dissecting my prediction, I’m forecasting gang-busting growth for the “where-am-I” use case. Along those lines, I give you Photocheck.in (h/t TechCrunch), which hits two of my favorite things: geo and APIs.

In very simple terms, Photocheck.in lets you checkin to foursquare simply by taking a picture with your mobile phone.

You read that right. Sounds a bit like magic. Magic made possible by APIs and open data formats.

Here’s how it works:

The app was built by Jon Steinberg, and it uses the EXIF metadata that smartphones like the iPhone and Android devices apply to photos to approximate your location. It then checks you into foursquare using that approximate address.

Using the address rather than a venue to checkin excludes your checkin from the game aspects of foursquare like mayorship and badges (not sure about checkin points), but the concept is very cool.

In the future, Jon hopes to guess the venue using the EXIF data and, I assume, foursquare’s venue data.

I tested this out yesterday, expecting it to fail, since I have an OG iPhone. You know, the one without GPS. Much to my surprise, it worked. I guess the phone applies EXIF data based on the My Location feature that uses cell towers triangulation to find me.

Here’s my list of checkins from Photocheck.in:

Each checkin has details, including a map:

Here’s what the checkin looks like on foursquare:

The checkin was pretty accurate, checking me in at 3819 SE Holgate Blvd, when I was actually at 3909, but there is a cluster of businesses closer to 3819. So, Jon’s going to have some issues guessing the right venue in heavily developed area.

Overall, I’m excited by the app; it shows the mashup possibilities that create great use cases. Photo checkins have business applications, e.g. for package delivery or inventory shipment. Combining RFID and EXIF data from pictures would provide extra security for valuable shipments. I’m sure there are more use cases, but I’m not a domain expert.

The app also creates a new client for foursquare by allowing checkins from outside a foursquare app. This could lead to gaming, natch, e.g. by providing the @photocheck.in address to other people, you could checkin from anywhere, anytime.

Not that there’s a lot of incentive to game foursquare, but as they advance the game and the rewards, it becomes a concern.

The OAuth integration seems a bit off to me; I didn’t expect to have to provide my foursquare credentials. Usually in OAuth implementations, you’re immediately redirected to the Accept/Decline dialog on the data provider’s page. Not a big deal, just a bit odd.



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4 Responses to “Checkin to Foursquare by Taking a Picture”

  1. joel garry Says:

    Last nights SVU: People use proximity app to have quickie sex. Tsk-tsk! HIV-positive sociopath uses app to give as many girls AIDS as possible. Police use app logs to trace murder victims movements, use fake user to catch guy. Grampa hacks “faceunion” account to let everyone know. http://www.daemonstv.com/2010/01/04/law-order-s… Detailed spoiler: http://allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com/2010/0

  2. Jake Says:

    Reminds me of a post I did years ago when Twitter made its mainstream media debut on CSI. If Hollywood writers put it on TV, seems like a short jump into the Bell Curve.

    I'm still skeptical that geo+social will be readily accepted. Although, I must admit, I had not thought of the quickie use case. Refer to use case point :)

  3. joel garry Says:

    Last nights SVU: People use proximity app to have quickie sex. Tsk-tsk! HIV-positive sociopath uses app to give as many girls AIDS as possible. Police use app logs to trace murder victims movements, use fake user to catch guy. Grampa hacks “faceunion” account to let everyone know. http://www.daemonstv.com/2010/01/04/law-order-s… Detailed spoiler: http://allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com/2010/0

  4. Jake Says:

    Reminds me of a post I did years ago when Twitter made its mainstream media debut on CSI. If Hollywood writers put it on TV, seems like a short jump into the Bell Curve.

    I'm still skeptical that geo+social will be readily accepted. Although, I must admit, I had not thought of the quickie use case. Refer to use case point :)

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