The Wireless Registry officially kicked off on Jan. 14 during an event held in New York City.
With an ambitious goal of becoming nothing short of the "registry for the Internet of things," the Washington, D.C.-based company's platform imbues identity and context to SSIDs (service set identifiers), the wireless signposts generated by WiFi access points that alert devices to their presence.
Rather than just serve as digital welcome mats, the registry aims to layer additional functionality onto SSIDs, enabling a new, potentially far-reaching generation of proximity-based services.
A recurring theme throughout the launch event was proximity, not location-based paradigms determined by latitude and longitude. Whereas GPS-enabled apps and services poll a device's location based on coordinates, the company leverages SSIDs, and the identities it allows businesses and individuals to attach to them, to provide a platform on which to deliver next-generation services.
"We're not connecting, we're detecting," the registry's CEO and founder, Patrick Parodi, told eWEEK. That capability, along with the company's proximal API, can help launch a wave of apps, services, social media and hardware innovations that can lead to new levels of engagement when mobile device users step into the range of a wireless access point.
Once registered, "you attach your name to wireless devices," said Parodi. In a statement, Parodi explained, "Registering your wireless name or SSID allows you to own your proximal identity within The Wireless Registry and create a virtual bubble that can stay in one place or go wherever you go."
"We have built a system, the DNS of Things, that lets people and businesses take control and add meaning to their wireless signals," added Parodi. COO and co-founder Stillman Bradish described the venture as an early infrastructure-building effort to unearth the hidden "value in SSID."
Currently, "there's no infrastructure to sense [SSIDs]" said Bradish. By providing that foundation, The Wireless Registry hopes to provide a foundation by which the Internet of things can live up to its potential in terms of proximal services.
"We're where Network Solutions was 30 years ago," added Bradish, referencing the Internet pioneer's early work on establishing Web identities that led to the Internet economy. "We can be that Network Solutions."
As expected, the registry offers opportunities for marketers seeking to engage with mobile users. In a statement, the company said its platform "will instantly create millions of virtual proximal billboards" for brands and advertising agencies. Retailers will be able to "engage consumers on a hyper local basis with daily deals, coupons or other forms of commercial engagement without requiring them to connect to their WiFi."
Established brands don't have to worry about cyber-squatting. The Wireless Registry follows ICANN's policies regarding trademarks, noted Parodi.
Privacy is the company's overriding priority, however. The opt-in, permission-based service allows users to determine how much or how little information they wish to share. "The Wireless Registry is a good example of a new way for individuals to take control of their proximal identity, the new frontier of privacy," said Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, in a statement.