Indoor mapping iOS solution bypasses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beacons (w/ Video)

May 22, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

A geomagnetic-based mapping app for indoors, yes, indoors, is now available for devices running the iOS mobile operating system, which means you get out your iPhone and iPad to take advantage of a new launch from IndoorAtlas. This company, with an office in Mountain View, California, originated as a spinoff from research at Finland's Oulu University. The company promotes its patented indoor positioning technology, which uses the built-in magnetometers in smartphones to detect anomalies in the geomagnetic field, guiding users trying to navigate through indoor spaces. A key distinguishing feature about their technology is that there is no need for any additional infrastructure. The IndoorAtlas app allows for accurate positioning within six feet inside a building, without having to use any external hardware such as Bluetooth beacons or Wi-Fi connectivity.

Prof. Janne Haverinen, CEO and Founder, IndoorAtlas, called the positioning for iOS game-changing. He said the app opens up a world of possibilities for in-store and in-mall mapping mobile apps that support location-based point-of-sale, advertising and marketing. IndoorAtlas was founded in 2012 by Haverinen and four other PhDs in computer science. IndoorAtlas is in Mountain View, with R&D centers in Oulu and Oxford in the UK.

A promotional video sums up the advantage of the , saying that it works just like GPS in places where GPS does not work. "The end user experience is very similar to using GPS outdoors" said the company in its release. The technology makes use of built-in magnetometers in smartphones to detect anomalies in the earth's .

As for developers, the news is that IndoorAtlas API and tools are accessible for building indoor positioning features to their iOS apps. Commercial applications in verticals include retail, public-safety, manufacturing, and social networking. Commenting on IndoorAtlas, Quentin Hardy said in The New York Times that a Finnish company called IndoorAtlas has figured out that all buildings have a unique magnetic "fingerprint"—and has solved how to use that to determine locations inside a structure to within six feet. That is enough to take a consumer to a product in a crowded supermarket, or figure out the location of, say, a half-dozen workers in a building full of them."

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IndoorAtlas Mobile for iOS

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Indoor Atlas DEMO Enterprise 2014
As for Android support for IndoorAtlas, according to the description on Google play, "Officially supported devices are Nexus 4 and 5, and Samsung Galaxy S4 (Android 4.3)."

Explore further: Finland team uses Earth's magnetic field for phone indoor positioning system

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5 / 5 (1) May 22, 2014
Yet another iOS biased report when you really just should have related it to smartphones in general.
not rated yet May 23, 2014
I see several issues, not in the concept itself but in the use cases:

One is that the "magnetic fingerprint" is far from static. I assume that the system has some filters in place in order to avoid being too granular, but in IT companies or heavy industry the EM emitting equipment does not stay in a given place and this may have a huge influence on the patterns. Again, I assume that this has been addressed already.

The second thing that I see is a flaw in thinking that retailers such as supermarkets may be actually interested in leading their customer's straight to the product they need. It may be true that a 15% of sales is lost due to the customer's not finding the product... but how much is won by the customer being led to buy other products during their search for the intended one?

not rated yet May 27, 2014
Another fatal flaw is that the overhead to create the maps is considerable. Watch the video. You have to have time for all that clicking and drawing etc. Plus you have to have an accurate floor plan available. In most cases, one or the other is not going to be available. Until the equivalent of a google maps car can just walk through a building and create a map, this ain't happening in my opinion. Good luck though!

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