Indoor Atlas Re-Thinks Indoor Positioning

July 10, 2012 by Dave Haynes

The big problem I have with most digital wayfinding systems is that they show you – with icons or even animated paths – how to get somewhere in a mall, or campus, airport, or purposefully bewildering, we’re-not-letting-you-leave casino-resort. But then you get 50 feet away and forget the directions.

GPS can’t typically help because you’re inside. There are some companies like Victoria, BC-based Wifarer, which has technology that works with a venue’s Wifi system and a user’s smartphone to guide them around in real time. Cool.

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Now there is a Finnish start-up doing indoor positioning and navigation using the Earth’s natural magnetic field.

Reports The Verge:

A spinoff from research at the University of Oulu, IndoorAtlas‘ upcoming app uses the built-in compass found in most modern smartphones to detect changes in the earth’s natural magnetic field — the same technique used by homing pigeons. These tiny alterations correspond to the position of man-made objects such as desks and shelves, as well as a building’s fundamental materials, allowing users to reliably navigate around pre-prepared floor plans without the need for GPS or other positioning systems.

The company claims that its technology provides accuracy of up to 10 centimeters, easily enough to navigate in most public places. With a recently-launched API program, it’s opening up its so-called Indoor Positioning System (IPS) to select third-party developers, with the aim of creating an ecosystem around the technology before its public release. 



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