ESRI buys location services provider Geoloqi

Geoloqi, a new platform for real-time location services,launched in February and caught the attention of mobile developers who liked the way it allowed them to easily and efficiently add background location tracking to their apps. The Portland, Ore. company, founded by Amber Case, also turned the head of ESRI, a longtime provider of geographic information systems and geo-planning tools.

ESRI announced today that it has bought Geoloqi, which will anchor a new Esri Research and Development Center in Portland. The purchase price was not disclosed. Case will become the director of the new R&D center.

And they’ve already got a jointly developed product: a new geo-coding enhancement for Geoloqi’s API, so developers will be able to trigger actions in their apps based on real-world addresses and locations, not just latitude and longitude data. Geoloqi and ESRI are also offering a mapping library that can be an alternative to Apple’s (s aapl) default library for iOS developers.

The deal came about after Case met with ESRI and talked about possible investments or partnerships. Eventually, it looked like the best scenario was a sale, Case told me in an interview. She said Geoloqi, which will continue to offer developer tools, will be able to sell to a much wider audience through ESRI, which has some 300,000 customers.

ESRI will be able to supplement its vast mapping and points of information data in its ArcGIS product with real-time location data drawn from Geoloqi. And it will be able to sell its products to mobile developers, who may have been intimidated by ESRI’s earlier products. ESRI has been around since 1969 and sells its products to national governments, Fortune 500 companies and thousands of colleges and universities.

“Many mobile developers didn’t know about ESRI. It was written for GIS developers. We’re making it accessible to all developers. Our objective is to wrap up our tools and API so a whole new industry can use these tools,” Case told me in an interview.

It’s a quick exit for Geoloqi, which was founded in 2010 and has raised $350,000 to date. It recently teamed with Appcelerator to make a Geoloqi module available for Titanium developers. Case said she expects to add another 20 people to the Portland center in the next two years.