Earlier this week, Apple acquired a two-year-old GPS start-up called WifiSLAM. The geo-location space is rapidly growing with GPS technology being used widely from smartphone apps to in-car dashboard technology. What sets WifiSLAM apart is its focus on indoor-GPS.
Most GPS models use cell towers to measure location which can be about 10 meters off. When driving or walking 10 meters don’t make much of a difference but when trying to measure location inside a building, those 10 meters can be troublesome.
The Next Web dug up how WifiSLAM is able to pinpoint indoor location using multiple methods then create maps from data gathered from users:
“WiFiSLAM uses a combination of various methods to get better indoor locations. Obviously, WiFi and cell tower trilateration doesn’t work indoors. Instead, WiFi signals can be measured by any device to get an approximate location. In order for that location to be accurate, though, you have to use WiFi fingerprinting to get an idea of what the materials and construction of a particular building are going to do to WiFi signals. Enough scans in one place and you’ll have an accurate profile of a building that can be used to make a map.”
Apple quietly acquired the Silicon Valley company for a reported $20 million but hasn’t revealed its full plans just yet. Analysts are reporting that this is another step in building a mapping platform more competitive with Google’s, which already offers indoor mapping for select venues.
Imagine the possibilities for this new, more accurate technology – perhaps in the future indoor spaces like malls, shopping centers and department stores could pinpoint customer location to send geo-triggered alerts, deals, and advertisements at exact points within the venue. The company has already been offering its platform to app developers for indoor mapping and social networking.
There is certainly more to come on this and it will be interesting to see how Apple uses it in the near future.