GPS technology isn’t accurate to a pin point, at least not yet, and definitely not indoors. To determine an exact location within an enclosed space requires external hardware for the purpose of mapping an indoor location, and it’s a troublesome task that many companies, like Wifarer, are diligently working on. To help phones better breach the indoors, Nokia has formed an all alliance of 22 different companies to cooperate to develop accurate indoor positioning technologies for implementation into mobile devices.
The alliance, called In-Location Alliance, will develop and promote short-range wireless technology for the purpose of indoor positioning to a minimal degree of inaccuracy using mobile devices. For example, a mobile app for the purpose of aiding shoppers could offer a shopper browsing the cereal aisle of a grocery store coupons based on the specific location of the shopper. Other scenarios may allow the technology to help with finding the one shoe shining booth within a mall as large as The Mall of America.
The alliance is already close to perfecting this technology thanks to Nokia’s head start, which will likely be baked into the alliance’s efforts. In its testing phase, Nokia’s High Accuracy Indoor Positioning Solution (HAIP), which uses Bluetooth 4.0 and minimal power consumption, was able position a mobile device to the accuracy of one meter. Through further development and fine tuning, Nokia will be able to pinpoint a device to within an accuracy of a mere 20 centimeters.
“The key criteria for the indoor positioning technology are high accuracy, low power consumption, mobility, and the low cost. The solution has to be easy to implement and easy to use,” Nokia’s Boc Ly wrote in a blog post.
Nokia by itself has already developed the technology for indoor positioning, which raises the question about why the company should even work with other corporations at all. Nokia explains that due to the technicalities, developing the technology for indoor positioning requires different roles including telecom operators, system manufacturers, application developers and handset manufacturers.
For the technology to work, there are multiple facets to the equation. First, there are two hardware components to the technology. A HAIP antennae must be installed in the ceiling or the area from the reception of the wireless signal, which will map out the indoor location. The second component can be installed in a mobile device or as Ly explains, the component “made as separate tags, which can be attached to any asset.” Then the more daunting effort, and where the alliance will really come into play, is to convince every original equipment manufacturer and building owner to install these components in their effort to provide a complete network for pinpoint mapping.
“The alliance members can bring the technology to the market sooner and also extend the technology in the future and provide new use cases and opportunities,” Ly writes.
More specifically the In-Location Alliance, comprised of powerhouses including Sony Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics and Broadcom, and its role is in three parts:
- Continue working together on system architecture based on a standard based indoor positioning solution.
- Alliance members will prepare and execute pre-commercial pilots and practical demonstrations starting in the second half of 2012.
- Alliance members will brainstorm and evaluate new use cases and new business opportunities based on indoor positioning technology.
Competing technologies exist, like Wifarer and Navizon I.T.S. And with demonstrations already set to take place later this year, it may be only a few more years before we’ll be finding the nearest bathroom in an airport using Nokia’s HAIP technology.
Check out the video of Nokia’s HAIP below: