Indoor Navigation: The Next Big Bet In Mobile?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on August 24, 2012

There’s no doubt that navigation still is a killer app among smartphone users. Whether it’s Google Maps, Ovi Maps (now Nokia Maps), Navteq or other similar services, navigation apps have received a lot of love from mobile users.

Therefore it’s no surprise that Google Maps has proven to be immensely popular even with iPhone users, with some 90 percent utilizing the service, which itself in turn has driven more and more users to Google’s search engine. And hence, the obvious need for Apple to part ways with Google Maps in favor of in-house navigation software.

While outdoor navigation technology has improved by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, the same can’t be said of mobile indoor navigation. For long, major smartphone manufacturers have acknowledged poor indoor navigation is a problem, and a big one. The Indoor location services segment yesterday received a big boost with the announcement of an industry consortium aimed at promoting them.

Nokia, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Qualcomm have formed the In-Location Alliance, which will work to improve the accuracy of indoor positioning. While it’s early days yet, it’s heartening to see arch rivals in the smartphone segment working together for a common cause, especially in wake of some recently ugly cat fights.

Indoor navigation services typically face challenges related to high accuracy, low power consumption, mobility, and low cost. Another major factor is interoperability and uniformity in standards such as enhanced Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy technology and Wi-Fi. None the less, there’s no doubt that the prospects of mobile indoor navigation are fascinating –  consumers could receive directions to personalized in-store product promotions, get real-time navigation in a museum or other public places, or get the precise location of patients or doctors in hospitals.

Other alliance members include Broadcom, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor, Eptisa, Geomobile, Genasys, Indra, Insiteo, Nomadic Solutions, Nordic Semiconductor, Nordic Technology Group, NowOn, Primax Electronics, RapidBlue Solutions, Seolane Innovation, TamperSeal AB, Team Action Zone and Visioglobe.

“The aim of the In-Location Alliance is to act as a pioneer opening up new business streams for indoor environments. Indoor positioning is the next frontier of mobile services, offering great opportunities to enhance consumer experiences. For the benefit of enterprises, the Alliance will drive a world-wide indoor positioning system for use in major venues. Our pilots, along with technical evaluations, are paramount for driving rapid market adoption,” said the alliance in a blog post.

In fact, Nokia has been working on the High Accuracy Indoor Positioning (HAIP) Solution technology for a while. The USP of HAIP is that it receives a wireless signal from a component installed in a mobile device or attached externally to any asset, and provides accuracy within one meter. The company hopes the alliance members would work together to accelerate HAIP research and quickly bring it to market.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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