LoKast

LoKast
AllJoyn™ Powers LoKast, the Instant Social Network for the Physical World.

Give your customers, co-workers and meeting attendees a digital space in your physical place. LoKast uses AllJoyn technology to offer nearby users an instant social network for discovering, connecting and communicating with one another. They can also share photos, contact information, videos, Web links and music.

"AllJoyn helps directly connect devices running LoKast, without having to go over cellular networks. It's a metaphor for Qualcomm's pedigree of efficient, reliable networking. We know how difficult and time-consuming it is to implement and manage peer networking using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections (we've tried it ourselves). AllJoyn is a much easier and more effective way of implementing this functionality."

– Boris Bogatin, CEO, NearVerse Inc.

Technical Highlights

  • AllJoyn peer-to-peer (P2P) technology for device-to-device (D2D) communications
  • Mobile devices form local social networks over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Unification of Internet connections through 3G/Wi-Fi, with D2D connections

Business Highlights

  • New proximity capabilities using AllJoyn over Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connections
  • Increased exposure as Qualcomm developer

Maybe you don't always need the Web to be worldwide. Maybe you need one that's just big enough for your meeting, classroom, event, ballpark, store or office, so that you can share media and interact on mobile devices at high speeds.

That was NearVerse's idea, and they created LoKast – short for "local-casting" – to let you discover nearby users, share media with them and set up instant social networks at events like networking breakfasts, luncheons, parties and meetings.

Imagine you're at a developer conference and the host announces, "Everybody please install LoKast, then join the place called DevConf." Chat threads start forming in DevConf – "d.k. u were here, lets meet @ info stand" – and people start sharing photos, audio and video from the sessions. Then private, break-out sessions form with subsets of individuals, in order to have more private interactions. LoKast hosts digital spaces for a local, physical place.

NearVerse finds AllJoy

But LoKast had to overcome a big hurdle: How to enable neighboring users and devices to discover one another easily and reliably, and then connect with them to form these social networks?

"Anybody can do this over 3G," explains Boris Bogatin, CEO of NearVerse, "but there's a lot of latency to that. Besides, you can't always get a good signal at a concert or a trade show and location ID is not very accurate. We wanted LoKast to take advantage of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth not only for high-speed sharing, but also for reliable, in-the-room discovery of other devices."

How do you piece together all the technologies for high-speed proximity sharing? It's not easy to get devices communicating with one another over a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth , let alone fit those technologies in with 3G.

NearVerse found Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. (QuIC) and its AllJoyn open source project, and chose to implement it in the Android version of LoKast. AllJoyn is a software framework that enables apps running on mobile devices to easily discover nearby peers, establish networks and communicate automatically with one another, regardless of device type or standard.

AllJoyn provides the peer network management layer on top of protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and others; developers provide the apps running over that layer. It adds the missing management framework to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and complements these protocols rather than competing with them. In launching the AllJoyn open source project, QuIC seeks to make the technology freely available to the open source community and help with the market adoption that is critical for peer networking.

"A year ago, we launched LoKast as an app for media sharing," explains Bogatin, "and we've been watching how people use it. Then we started building some of the more sophisticated device-to-device communication technology we needed for the next phase of the app and our platform, but found that it was very expensive in development time and expertise. We knew we wouldn't have been able to do it as well as QuIC, so we focused on offering LoKast as an instant social network and left the work of P2P communications to them."

Building in P2P communications

Instead of having separate apps for accessing the carrier networks and managing P2P, the NearVerse architecture uses AllJoyn to manage the work of the social proximity Internet with P2P communications, discovery and sharing, and 3G for services and content.

Bogatin notes that P2P and the NearVerse architecture need consistent interfaces. "All the things we take for granted about Location Services and push notifications – like the APIs, ease of use, and assurances that they will function properly – AllJoyn now provides for P2P networking. If you want to tap into P2P connectivity, AllJoyn hands it to you in the same way."

NearVerse engineers downloaded the free AllJoyn Peer-to-Peer SDK and incorporated the AllJoyn library into the LoKast application, modifying their code to access it. Working closely with Qualcomm and QuIC engineers, they did it within a few days and found it as simple to implement as other common functions like push notifications.

More exposure with Qualcomm and QuIC

NearVerse's collaboration with Qualcomm extended to Mobile World Congress (MWC) in mid-February 2011 and CTIA one month later, and the two organizations put together technology demonstrations for the shows. Bogatin points to the development sprint as testimony to the hand-in-hand support he received from QuIC and the simplicity of how AllJoyn is put together. Even in the network congestion of MWC and CTIA, the LoKast demos still worked, relying on AllJoyn to manage communications between the application and P2P/3G communications.

Bogatin believes that P2P communications will usher in a big change in the use of wireless: "We think of P2P as not just another technology, but rather a building block to the next generation of wireless – not necessarily better-cheaper-faster, but new ways to use systems. We can use D2D communication in completely new, systematic ways now for a better, richer mobile Internet."

"Networking is extremely complex and it's Qualcomm's strong suit. We knew that it's possible to build things like AllJoyn in house if you have the smartest guys and lots time, but even then it's almost impossible to match the quality of AllJoyn. After all, we can try to build a wireless network, but that's one part of the equation that we never fancy doing ourselves."

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