Indoor Location: To Boldly Go . . . with or without GNSS

A cross-industry group comprising 22 companies has launched the In-Location Alliance to drive technology innovation and market adoption of high-accuracy indoor positioning solutions such as Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi in environments where GNSS has difficulty providing service.

Established August 23, alliance members include leading handset manufacturers Nokia and Samsung as well as chipset providers, among them GNSS and mixed-signal RF companies Qualcomm, CSR (most of whose assets were recently acquired by Samsung), and Broadcom.

A cross-industry group comprising 22 companies has launched the In-Location Alliance to drive technology innovation and market adoption of high-accuracy indoor positioning solutions such as Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi in environments where GNSS has difficulty providing service.

Established August 23, alliance members include leading handset manufacturers Nokia and Samsung as well as chipset providers, among them GNSS and mixed-signal RF companies Qualcomm, CSR (most of whose assets were recently acquired by Samsung), and Broadcom.

Accurate indoor positioning opens up plenty of possibilities for new mobile services, according to the alliance. For a consumer this could mean, for example, receiving directions to the products and personalized product promotions in nearby shops; using real-time navigation inside a building; finding the precise location of assets and people; and even increasing security in emergency situations.

For facility owners and local service providers this could enable, for example, increased local customer identification; enhanced product placement; and better customer satisfaction by deploying resources when and where needed.

According to Patrick Connolly, a senior analyst for ABI Research’s global telematics and navigation practice, “The indoor location market sits on the cusp of a wave, with the market set to reach a significant number of installations in 2015-2017. With a huge number of proprietary technologies vying for position, the establishment of the In-Location Alliance can encourage innovation, lower costs and, ultimately, widespread adoption of standard based technologies and solutions.”

Founding members of the alliance are Broadcom, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor, Eptisa, Geomobile, Genasys, Indra, Insiteo, Nokia, Nomadic Solutions, Nordic Semiconductor, Nordic Technology Group, NowOn, Primax Electronics, Qualcomm, RapidBlue Solutions, Samsung Electronics, Seolane Innovation, Sony Mobile Communications, TamperSeal AB, Team Action Zone and Visioglobe.

The Alliance says it will focus on creating solutions offering high accuracy, low power consumption, mobility, “implementability,” and usability, and seek to “create an ecosystem that stimulates innovation, enhances service delivery, and accelerates the adoption of solutions and technologies that optimize the mobile experience.”

Alliance members will pilot the most promising services and use cases from a business and solution point of view. The other important task for the Alliance is to ensure a multivendor environment by promoting open interfaces and a standard-based approach.

The Alliance is encouraging its members to execute their own pilots and present their data to the Alliance. The primary solutions will be based on enhanced Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy technology and Wi-Fi standards using relevant existing or coming features of those technologies. These technologies are commonly used in mobile handsets and are thus a natural starting point for the Alliance’s efforts.

Pre-commercial pilots and business model verifications will start in 2012, while 2013 is expected to bring mobile handset-based implementation enabling the first consumer applications in the indoor mobile environment.

In another development that bolsters efforts to achieve reliable indoor positioning on mobile handsets, earlier this year the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) released a new technical specification, ETSI TS 137 571-1 V9.0.0, for testing assisted GPS, GNSS, and assisted GNSS positioning on mobile devices with advanced telecom technologies.

And, bringing indoor and outdoor positioning together, the 2012 Ubiquitous Positioning Indoor Navigation and Location Based Service (UPINLBS) conference takes place October 3–4 in Helsinki, Finland, sponsored by the Finnish Geodetic Institute, Nordic Institute of Navigation and IEEE.

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