WeFi is aiming to deliver a better outside internet experience by making WiFi as easy to use as a cell phone.
WeFi was founded 18 months ago by Yossi Vardi, (formerly with ICQ), Arnon Kohavi and Shimon Scherzer. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, with an R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel and has funding of $7.35million from Lightspeed Ventures, Pitango and Gemini.
The concept is simple: to offer a true internet experience outside the house, people need WiFi. However finding free WiFi can be difficult, which is where WeFi wants to step in.
The WeFi client replaces the Windows connection manager and finds and connects to free WiFi hotspots. The location of free hotspots is displayed on a map that also shows the location of other WeFi users. The maps are regularly updated as users discover and connect to WiFi. This is delivered without changing or modifying access points, delivering a complementary service to other WiFi sharing initiatives such as fon.
The mapping function is initially user generated. Users are encouraged to mark their location on a map and add spots to the map. WeFi can then ascertain the location of that user based on the known location of one of the hotspots that the WeFi client sees, without the need to be connected to it.
It’s a solid concept that will have a strong appeal in the United States, the land of the free WiFi hotspot. The idea of presence based social networking seems like an unnecessary distraction, but in the age of Lifestreaming and Twitter it will appeal to some.
The service is currently in private beta and will be opened to the public Wednesday. The following week, WeFi will announce Twitter support that will allow WeFi users to automatically notify their friends via Twitter the location and name of the network they are connected to.