As co-creator of the technology behind Google Earth, Michael T. Jones was in on the ground floor of what has become an increasingly important part of a wide range of software and mobile applications. Now Google’s chief technology advocate, Jones spoke earlier this month at GIS(Geographic Information Systems) Day at the University of Pennsylvania. In a separate interview with Knowledge at Wharton, Jones, who was previously chief technologist of Google Maps, Earth and Local Search, discussed the company’s latest innovations in mapping technology. Among them is Field Trip, a mobile app for Android that runs continuously in the background of users’ phones, providing interesting facts and information about the places and things they encounter over the course of a day.

Field Trip was the first product to be released by Niantic Labs, a start-up housed inside Google that aims to create mobile applications that better connect, rather than divert, users to what’s going on in the world outside their smartphone screens. Earlier this month, Google launched Ingress, an alternate reality game that the company previewed through a mysterious multimedia website dubbed The Niantic Project.

An edited version of the interview appears below.