Unacast and the Real World Graph™

This post is an elaboration of the keynote that I held at the SLUSH conference in Helsinki where, for the first time, I presented The Real World Graph™

January 9, 2017

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This post is an elaboration of the keynote I held at the SLUSH conference in Helsinki in December where Unacast presented as one of the top 10 "Next Generation Nordic Game Changers". If you want to jump straight to the video it's below, but I recommend you to read the outlined version here in this post.


From oil and trading to online data in 10 years

The online universe has the last 10 years been diligently indexed by some of the most innovative companies in the world, such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Netflix and many others. During the same 10 year period, these companies have also become the most valuable companies by market capitalization according to Bloomberg. Understanding what we search for online, read online, buy online, click online and watch online is one of the most valuable assets there is, as it allows the creation of amazing products and services we use every single day - and every minute.

The chart from Bloomberg above is a really interesting read. In 2006 the world's most valuable companies had their focus and core expertise within oil and gas and sophisticated financial instruments. In 2016 the most valuable companies had their focus and core expertise within online data and user behavior. Where will we be in 2020 or 2026.

We're entering a new era of data

There is a world out there beyond the online universe where Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook do not dominate - the real world we live in. It’s easy to forget that we spend more than half of our awake time every day not looking into one of our many screens.

The real world has until now been largely “unknown”, but this is changing fast as the world is being “sensored” up with beacons, Wi-Fi and other proximity sensors creating magical moments.

These sensors are placed at airports, retail stores, sports stadiums, in departments and even on product level such as shoes from Adidas and Dick Sporting Goods. When our smartphone interact with these sensors we leave a digital footprint behind. We call this double-deterministic data™ as we know the device and the precise location and context.

Let's first look at the history of data

This double deterministic data, derived from proximity sensors, introduce a new and very exciting data era. To understand the fundamental change and the huge impact this will have on multiple industries, let's start by looking at the history.

Online data - 2009-2012

It all started with online data to understand clicks. This understanding, as mentioned in the introduction, is impressively accurate and granular and amazing products and services are enabled based on this. But, it lacked the real world aspect.

Location data - 2012-2016

Then came mobile, fast, introducing the real world aspect and location and even better products and services could be created. But, limited by GPS, to what city we are in or street we are on, lacking the same accuracy and granularity as online data.

Proximity data - Today and the future

Introducing proximity data. Based on all the sensors that are currently being deployed at rapid speed, we can for the first time understand people's behavior in the real world - with the same granularity and precision as we can with online data.

The circle is closed - and the products and services that will be created with proximity data will be a game changer the coming years.

We're ready to build the next generation of product and services

With more than 500 proximity companies in the world, creating magical moments, and sensors in millions of locations, a new question arises: What if we could understand the data and people´s movement have across all these different sensors deployed by all these different companies?

That would create a revolutionary new understanding of a person's behavior in the real world, with finally real world data as precise and actionable as online data.

Retail analytics

The retail industry is declining. Why? Nearly every major department store, including Macy's, Kohl's, Walmart, and Sears, have collectively closed hundreds of stores over the last couple years to try and stem losses from the rise of e-commerce, and 2017 does not look to be nicer.

The retail industry has to change and escape their silos. Where a customer goes before and after a visit to their store is a black box to the world´s leading retailers, but it can be answered with accurate and detailed data from proximity sensors. Imagine you enter a store who knows who you are, what you like, what you are looking for and gives you a uniquely personal experience - first then can retailers really advance in the battle against Amazon.


The combination of Augmented Reality (AR) and accurate location is creating a new wave of sophisticated games. Pokemon Go was just the start of a new wave of games that bridge the physical and digital worlds.

Pokemon became the fastest game to ever hit $500m in revenue selling Lures at different locations. Imagine a Pokemon behind the shoe department in your favorite department store. That will happen!


The internet economy is based on a simple principle - you get free access to content and in return companies that provide content get to place ads in front of you to make money to make more content. With the rise of adblockers and the negative impact it has on the advertising industry, it's clear that the industry has not made a good enough job serving relevant ads with a great user experience. Only Facebook and to some extent Google can claim to have done this right.

With more data and accurate and granular data from proximity sensors, marketing will be way more personalized and tailored creating a better and online experience. Some of the leading marketing platforms and brands have already got this and are succeeding.


Location services have only been a part of our mobile experience the last few years, but if you turn it off it feels like your smartphone was thrown 10 years back in time. Navigating in a new city, order an Uber, find the closest Italian restaurant on your block when you are starving, check in on all our social media services, track your route and speed when you go for a jog is all powered by location services. And the list can go on and on, just have a look at the 50+ apps on your smartphone. Proximity data will make this even more interesting and relevant as the accuracy and context are superior.

As an example, many of us use Snapchat filters and they have made an impressive $300 millions dollar business in a very short time. The filters are hugely popular, but with GPS data as the main source to determine your location and build filters, the context and opportunity will stagnate. Proximity data allows for hyper-local Snapchat for specific stores, cafés, bars, sections of a sports stadium or airport. This is new branding opportunities for the businesses they don´t have today.

Data fragmentation needs to be solved to build the next gen of products and services

The exciting possibilities above can only be released if someone ties the data and knowledge from all the magical moments together to create a holistic view of us consumers, with the same detailed level as we experience online.

When the first sensors hit the market a few years back, Unacast started this cumbersome and complex job. Coming from the streaming music industry where Kjartan, my co-founder, and I were a part of the founding team at TIDAL (acquired by Jay Z) we already had deep knowledge and confidence in how to solve and build complex ecosystems.

The Unacast team has done an incredible job building the world's largest network of beacon and proximity companies. In just 18 months we have cemented our #1 position with more than 66 Proximity Solution Providers as highlighted below and every month our network gets stronger - and so is our data and understanding.

We function as their backend; collecting, aggregating and normalizing all the beacon and proximity data so we can create one unified view of what people do in the real world at the most granular level possible.

The largest marketing companies and fortune 100 brands in the US license and buy our unique data to fuel their data and marketing engine. And that’s only the start.

It's happening as we speak – we are entering a new era of data. An era where data from sensors in the real world can create completely new services, products, and features. Unacast is the next platform company spearheading this new era.   

With all this double-deterministic data™ data – we build the Real World Graph™.