Saturday, March 24, 2012

Indoor Location was Hot at the GPS Wireless Conference

Indoor location was discussed by Foursquare, Micello, aisle411, TCS, Skyhook, Glympse, and others at the GPS Wireless conference in San Francisco.

Nokia talked about their precise indoor location technology based on Bluetooth, which IndoorLBS reported on last year (read here.) Nokia is now in trials in stores where Beacons throughout a store that leverage Bluetooth 4 can send signals to mobile devices with Bluetooth 4 and identify a user's location to within 10 centimeters. Devices that have Bluetooth 4 include the iPhone (see here). With that level of precision, a vendor could present the mobile user with a promotion on a specific product when it is right in front of the user, and the offer could be targeted to shoppers based on past purchases or other factors. When the customer reached the checkout stand, the discount could be applied automatically, said Marc Kleinmaier.

TCS, the maker of Verizon Wireless's VZ Navigator, said indoor location would be most useful as part of a larger search and navigation system, helping users find their way to an address and then through a store to find a product.

FourSquare thinks indoor location would benefit its user experience. For example, the checking-in process would be simplified and more accurate with indoor location pinpointing the user to the actual venue he/she is located in, instead of listing a bunch of venues and have the user scroll through them to find it. However, the technology needs to go mainstream and be broadly available on all platforms first, said Holger Luedorf. Read more about checkin accuracy here.

Skyhook said indoor turn-by-turn navigation won't be the first killer app of indoor navigation. "Generally, the way you navigate isn't by looking at your screen and walking around," said Nick Brachet.

Micello said indoor location data could help retailers offer shoppers promotions, products and information at the right time and place. The technology is still too fragmented to be easily used across all venues, though it can be implemented consistently across one company, said Ankit Agarwal. In addition, Micello said they build all the maps and own the map data because the map becomes a way to influence that decision.

Aisle411 said the company is in discussions with large and small retailers that want to deploy indoor navigation networks using technologies such as Bluetooth beacons, said George Arabian. aisle411 already offers an indoor navigation app for iPhone and Android that helps users locate items on the shelves of some stores. aisle411 also offers an SDK for developers, see more here.

Glympse said it envisions consumers using indoor location to find each other in malls or convention centers. "In 18 months, I think that's going to be pretty commonplace," said Bryan Trussel.

CSR said the three main business cases for indoor location will be promotion, recreation or gaming, and emergency response, or a "personal OnStar" system on phones instead of cars, said Kanwar Chadha.

Indoor location capabilities are expected to be implemented at the chip level, as IndoorLBS wrote in its article, 2012 Will be the Year of the Chips for Indoor Location, here.

Check out the Indoor LBS report with over 100 pages covering 120+ companies working with indoor maps and indoor location, here.