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Inventing the Future using Foursquare data, tools, and technologies.

Foursquare Labs is our in-house innovation unit. We’re a small team of creators, makers, and explorers tasked with inventing the future through location technology. Labs allows Foursquare to showcase new technology that makes real world experiences more delightful.

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[labs' mandate]

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Inspire others

“Inventing the future” is rarely obvious or easy. Our job is to dream up new and novel use cases for Foursquare technology and data that will inspire other developers to push our concepts and ideas further within their own projects and products.

Keep ourselves honest

Pushing the boundaries of what is possible with location technology and contextually-aware computing is hard. The Labs team creates things that push on the edges of what Foursquare’s own technology can and can not do to help us all better understand the line between “the recently possible” and “problems that remain unsolved.”

Foursquare everywhere

We imagine a future in which Foursquare enables a world full of software that helps people better navigate, understand, and explore the real world. Success for the Foursquare Labs team is making the name “Foursquare” synonymous with “innovation in contextually-aware computing.”

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See what else our innovation team has been up to

LinkNYC monitor displaying the best times to go to Lenox Hill grocery stores on Thursdays with a graph of how busy grocery stores are throughout the day.

COVID data + LinkNYC

During the height of COVID in New York City, we partnered with LinkNYC and their network of digital billboards to help advise New Yorkers on the least crowded times to visit grocery stores and pharmacies in their neighborhoods (powered by Foursquare’s aggregated and anonymized foot traffic data).

Hypertrending

Hypertrending is a top-down view of all the places and phones that Foursquare knows about in a given city – powered by Foursquare’s aggregated and anonymized foot traffic data. Our intent was to create a live “heat map” of activity (and a list of the most popular places in that city in real-time) as an exploration of what a next-generation city guide could look like. We launched Hypertrending as a two-week demo during the 2019 SXSW Festival in Austin, TX.

An image of a black map in the background with a phone in front of it with circles on it representing the amount of people at a given place.
An image of many engineers in an office with pink balloons

Marsbot 1.0

A text-messaging based virtual assistant designed to learn about the places you went, and proactively recommend places you’d love.

COVID data + foot traffic dashboards

In the early days of COVID, we received dozens of requests from people around the country asking how Foursquare data could help crisis response teams understand what was happening on the ground. Our response was to package up our aggregated and anonymized foot traffic data and share it with crisis responders and government officials to help them make smarter decisions for their communities.

an image of a person wearing a mask walking down a street looking at their phone
an image of a person pressing a button on their phone

Pilgrim (the original Foursquare Labs project)

Back in 2011, we set up a small team to build “a check-in button that you never had to press” — a way for a phone to understand the places it had visited even if that phone was in your pocket or backpack or purse. It had to work quickly, with high accuracy, and with minimal battery drain…. and most importantly, without requiring someone to press a button in an app. Ten years later, this technology (now called Pilgrim) powers a large part of Foursquare’s offerings across our advertising, analytics and developer tools.

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