Five Questions About ((Echo))MyPlace

By Nora Parker

_The Carbon Project received $100,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to further develop its product, ((Echo))MyPlace. There is a possibility of up to $1.1 million in additional funding. The company is seeking $3 million in private investment. I asked The Carbon Project's founder, Nuke Goldstein, and its CEO, Jeff Harrison, some questions about ((Echo))MyPlace. To be honest, there is still quite a bit the two are not ready to discuss publicly, so some reading between the lines is required.

Nora Parker (NP): What exactly is ((Echo))MyPlace?

Jeff Harrison (JH):
((Echo))MyPlace (Echo) is "geosocial networking" software that uses 2D and 3D mapping to allow users to share real-time photos and other information - directly from one computer to another. With Echo, people are sharing what is happening, where it is happening. What this means is people can watch their favorite content, whether from down the street or across the world. What's cool is that the content is likely to be created and shared by the same people you see in your local grocery store or coffee shop, not some big company thousands of miles away pumping you up with what they want you to see.

Nuke Goldstein (NG): [Jeff's] response will be something like this: ((Echo))MyPlace is a location-based social networking solution, or Geosocial Networking, where people can share their content on top of the Microsoft Virtual Earth globe or map. A more meaningful response is: Echo is a way to combine our powerful CarbonCloud peer-to-peer system with cutting edge 2D/3D mapping from Microsoft and a brand new channels system that allows streaming of content to and from users. The end result is something never seen before, a very cool looking application that allows people to select and watch their favorite content as it is geographically referenced. More than that, users are able to chat or multi-chat (multiple friends chatting simultaneously) and share content directly and securely with each other. The notes shown on the map or globe can be anything from pictures and HTML to Flash or Silverlight movies; there's no limitation to what you can do. This is just a part of it, but we're not ready to reveal all our secrets.

NP: How is it different from other offerings in the market?

There's nothing like it. Nuke has given you some insight into the technical designs for the interface. I'd add that we took a fresh approach, based on a new generation of Internet media technologies, that gives power back to users. This is different because Echo is powered by everyday people and a philosophy that says, "Let people create their own channels and target their message to their local community." This is different than being fed content from some cable TV network or a massive Internet company.

NG: In commerce, it's a combination of Google ads and e-bay with a geospatial twist; people can advertise and sell using channels and community interaction. In terms of interactivity, it offers advanced communication capabilities between friends and with customers, plus the ability to create and publish your own channels. One key point is that this is not just Echo, the client application. We have our own back end for channels and peer-to-peer. This allows us to think way outside the box for where we want to take this as Echo becomes a suite of services and products.

NP: How/why is federal funding involved?

They must have seen some potential.

NG: They know good technology potential when they see it. I believe they see the huge potential in this, something you will not find in Facebook add-ons.

NP: What is the revenue model going to be to monetize Echo?

Echo is designed to let local entrepreneurs target their message to the people likely to be interested in their products and services, enhancing the value of their advertising. A key area in this effort is connecting buyers and sellers of products and services that change rapidly and unpredictably, and differ from place to place. Local entrepreneurs do this by easily (and cheaply), creating their own channel for their local community. This capability has been largely ignored by online advertising provided by large companies. However, we think this portion of the social networking and advertising market is just emerging and represents significant opportunity for new applications like Echo.

NG: The commerce side is based on a channels system. Of course Echo will be free; we will ramp up the community and the content offered through partnerships. This will allow a broad base for exchange of information and goods.

NP: What else are you currently working on at the Carbon Project?

Lots. We've just released release a major update to CarbonArc PRO, our Open Geospatial Consortium Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) 1.0 extension for ArcGIS, at the ESRI Federal User Conference last month in Washington, DC. CarbonArc PRO 1.5 wraps the OGC SDI suite of standards into a new generation of user friendly data production tools for the ESRI ArcGIS 9.2 desktop. We also just released an update to CarbonTools PRO, our .NET geospatial interoperability toolkit. This release is special because we've included the source code for some of our most popular libraries, like Microsoft Virtual Earth.

We are also working on a new version of our popular Gaia application, software that accesses online geographic data services and allows users to seamlessly share event-specific location content. The new version includes a complete update to the entire Gaia user experience and a redesign for the application using the latest Microsoft technologies, including .NET 3.x and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). This redesign provides a far more exciting and engaging user experience - which we believe makes using SDI WMS and WFS layers more attractive and engaging than some commercial map services, and definitely more flexible.

Published Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Written by Nora Parker

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