Checking in With John Stockdale and Inanimate Objects

What do a beer keg, Facebook and radio frequency identification all have in common? They all kicked off the inspiration for a new company called Presence, described by its engineer as:

            “Digital identity for the physical world.”

Before we get to the awesome concept and technology behind Presence, let’s get the lowdown on the creator, John Stockdale.


The Engineer

When John started at Facebook in 2009 as a Site Reliability Engineer, and a year later working as a Software Engineer, he didn’t realize just how involved he would be with the mega-success of the company. Not only did he help with the overall operational health of the site, but he also helped create Facebook’s Download Your Information service.


Though, John has since left the company to pursue different projects including joining the USpeak startup team in Madrid in 2011, and his recent venture with Presence, he gives Facebook deserved props by describing it as one of the most efficiently-run companies he’s had the privilege to work for and is grateful for the level of impact he was able to make that he says would be impossible anywhere else in the industry.


The Hacker

During his time at Facebook he participated in the company’s Hackathon 18, where he and two other fellow FB hackers created Super Secret Door, a Facebook-enabled door, that would later be the proof of concept behind John’s new tech challenge.


The Technology Behind Presence

Ok, back to the beer keg and the boozy beginnings of Presence.


In 2010, Facebook employees had a little contraption that made getting day buzzed in the office that much more fun. It was a keg of beer, that, when employees swiped their RFID, their pic would be snapped and a FB status would be made (though, I can image this would be bad for one’s reputation!) Whenever the keg ran low on beer, pictures of BevMo would be posted to Facebook to alert everyone of its drought.


Though this contraption never made it outside the confines of Facebook headquarters, it’s possible the awesome technology behind it will, when its creator John takes it to the streets.


Presence, according to John, is a hypothetical lock application that allows you to create the access rules for your door or garage (or bike, or car…so on and so forth). For example, you can have access to enter your house 24/7, while your housekeeper may only have access between 1pm and 3pm on Wednesdays.


Basically, says John:

“By giving the places and things we interact with the capability to understand who is interacting with them, and in what manner, we can enable a whole new generation of real-world user experiences.”


Though, this is not necessarily a groundbreaking concept or even new technology for that matter (check out the very interesting “Internet of Things”), John hopes Presence will make your “interactions with spaces and objects more similar to your interaction with people and friends.”


Perhaps John’s former boss, Mr. Zuckerburg, could create a Presence-inspired Facebook, you know, to keep track of all our objects and spaces. SpaceBook? MyObject? Unlikely.


Photo Credits