The Wireless Registry wants people to include their connected devices in its registry and is touting the idea that claiming a unique name for each device will give users more control over information related to the devices' signals.
A user can give a 32-character "wireless name" to their smartphone, tablet or other connected device and then register that name in the Wireless Registry if it is available. Registration for each name is free for the first year and afterward costs $4.99 per year.
The wireless name typically corresponds to the SSID of the device. A user might register the existing SSID on a device or manually change it to match the wireless name they have chosen.
"Choose a wireless name that reflects your identity in the wireless world of 10 billion devices, similar to how a domain name may represent your brand on the Internet," the startup suggests.
However, it also cautions that wireless names "may not infringe upon the global intellectual property or legal rights of others, including but not limited to trademarks, brand names or personal names of famous people."
The Wireless Registry offers a list of devices users might want to name, including a "home Wi-Fi router, your smartphone, laptop, tablet, MiFi (portable Wi-Fi) and any other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled device such as a health monitoring bracelet, your car or even a dog collar."
The company claims its patented registry can be used by a business or individual who wants to protect and control their "proximal identity" or brand name. "Anywhere you broadcast your name, the content and profile you have provided for that name will be made available to anyone or anything checking The Wireless Registry," it said.
Included in a user's profile might be social networking accounts, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Users might also attach business information, such as menus or daily deals. Further, others could message a user directly via the wireless name.
At its heart, the Wireless Registry is about enabling more intelligent communications between devices. But there are multiple solutions being tried across the industry to enable that vision, and getting users to pay $5 a year to play in this arena may not be the easiest sell.
It is far too early to tell how many takers there might be for a proximity-based, device-to-device communications system that requires them to pay $5 a year to give their handset or other device a cute name or brand, particularly since the system essentially exists in a vacuum until there is a substantial base of both users and others wanting to contact, or know more about, those users.
GigaOM pointed out that the Wireless Registry is relying on an app installed on Mozilla and Chrome browsers to detect its SSIDs, potentially limiting the startup's market.
Wireless Registry has kicked in a side benefit that could entice more users, which is the prospect of improved privacy. The company said it is collaborating with the Future Privacy Forum to give retailers and mobile location analytics providers the ability to check a centralized opt-out database listing the wireless names for devices of people who do not want to be tracked.
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