Analysts at PR Newswire forecast 36.5% growth in the indoor navigation market over the next few years, turning this currently niche market into a multi-million dollar industry. This means that now is an ideal time to consider getting into the market, and a safe time to reinvest in updating, maintaining, or diversifying any currently employed indoor positioning system.
There are a number of different forms of indoor mapping technologies, each with their own advantages, requirements, and considerations. While a number of mobile app development companies are already experimenting with indoor localization technologies, there is still room in the market for any company that can make an intuitive and effective indoor mapping app, or an app that supports or improves platforming of existing technologies.
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Some up and coming indoor navigation technologies like Locata use a system similar to GPS using beacons in the building instead of satellites in space. Using conventional GPS technology that does not need to penetrate walls and roofs allows the reliability and familiarity of GPS to be used indoors. This kind of system could also facilitate a more seamless transition from outdoor GPS to indoor GPS for more convenient navigation experiences. Apple’s iBeacon works in a similar way, except it uses Wifi signals instead of GPS, but that technology and its implications will be discussed later in the article.
Bluetooth and Wifi
Companies involved in cellular technologies and mobile app development, including Nokia, are working with using wireless Internet technologies like Bluetooth and Wifi instead of the satellite input that conventional GPS utilities. Bluetooth-based indoor navigation technologies are promising so far because they are compatible with a wide range of technologies and are extremely precise, although they tend to have a small functional range. Wifi-based indoor mapping seems to have greater potential in terms of the size of the area in which it could be used. Some companies, including WifiSLAM, which was purchased by Apple in 2013, are working on finding ways to incorporate Wifi and Bluetooth signals for greater functional range and precision. This could also be helpful in mobile app development of tools that synchronize indoor localisation technologies used by businesses with those used by individual users. Many Wifi and Bluetooth based systems also have the benefit of not requiring additional hardware, as they can determine a user’s location by referencing other wireless-internet connected mobile devices in the vicinity.
Magnetic Imaging and Light
Other forms of indoor localization software don’t depend on signals from satellites, Wifi, or Bluetooth. IndoorAtlas makes use of the compass inside of most mobile devices to detect the magnetic fields generated by the building’s internal structure. This is only useful if you can find a map or blueprint of the building that you are in to compare the readings to, or if the company already has a map of their building available for use with the app. Creating maps of this kind, and making them more available is seen by many as a contribution more valuable to indoor GPS than using satellites more efficiently or increasing the range of Bluetooth. The task of creating and collecting these maps is being undertaken by independent companies, but is also utilizing resources like crowd sourcing.
Another unconventional but effective and practical app for indoor localization is ByteLight, a system that uses flicking LED lights imperceptible to the eye but detectable by phone cameras. Different patterns of light signals detected by the camera send codes corresponding to areas on a map of the building. This technology is one of the most exact forms of indoor localization, and doesn’t require a complete functioning map of a structure, though it is also one of the more limited systems in terms of range of use.
Requirements of Mobile Devices
Of course the different technologies available for indoor mapping all have different requirements in terms of hardware. Bluetooth is one of the oldest forms of mobile to mobile Internet services, so even outdated devices like flip-phones should be compatible with some forms of this technology, when ruling out their other technological restrictions. Similarly, virtually all handheld devices in use today are Wifi-compatible, so basic indoor mapping apps should be compatible with outdated but still in use Apple products like the iPod Touch series, though older models lack compasses, gyroscopes, accelerometers, altimeters, and cameras; virtually all of the tools required for most indoor mapping applications.
More advanced indoor navigation apps require more advanced handheld technology like the compasses and gyroscopes that are built into more modern devices. These will help determine user position and direction and enable actions like following a set route. Other more advanced mobile technologies that facilitate more advanced indoor positioning systems include altimeters and accelerometers. While altimeters may not be important for individual businesses so much as it is for shopping centers, airports, museums, etc. Accelerometer technology will be required for any indoor navigation system that allows an individual user to follow directions or routes in real time. One does not need to know one’s altitude to find one’s way from the front door to the bathroom, but imagine a car GPS that doesn’t account for how fast the car is moving. Indoor GPS is much the same way.
Of course less conventional technologies like those used by ByteLight also have their own technology requirements like a camera advanced enough to detect the codes of different lights. Similarly, indoor mapping technology requires the user to have at least somewhat up to date equipment, as all mobile devices have the inherent ability to interact with magnetic waves, but not all mobile devices are advanced enough to interpret them.
New Opportunities for Mobile Application Development
While technologies for Indoor navigation, whether it be Wifi-Bluetooth hybrid systems, lights, or magnetic imaging, is coming along quickly mobile app development in terms of creating user friendly use of these technologies will be a field of opportunity for some time to come. This is especially true in terms of indoor positioning systems for use by individuals rather than entities, as these systems tend to be larger and more complicated.
The creation of apps that work in a supporting role to currently existing navigation technologies is it’s own field. Creation of a user-friendly app that flowed seamlessly from outdoor GPS to indoor GPS would be immensely promising, and profitable. The issue of creating and storing maps to work with some existing indoor positioning applications is a similar area of potential exploration. This field can be a good way for mobile app development firms to get into the business of indoor mapping while still working out the complex algorithms that make up more advanced aspects indoor GPS.
Similarly, there is a whole world of opportunity in creating more advanced analytics that will help stores make sense of the data run through indoor localization apps to help them better understand their customers.
Some businesses opt to have their own apps created using existing hardware, or with low-cost hardware that can quickly create the environment required for indoor mapping. This allows businesses the options to have unique and customized apps and also leaves a large open market for mobile development firms, especially those just getting into the area of indoor GPS who are interested in small diverse projects.
The promising Ukrainian startup company QROC is a prime example of what a hard-working and ingenuitive mobile app development firm can do, with a little help. QROC combines Wifi and Bluetooth capabilities into a user-friendly indoor mapping tool that allows users to search for locations and build their own routes. The app can also be used by retail outlets to determine customer habits, and collect payment.
Indoor mapping is desired by private-sector entities like hospitals wanting to help people get to where they need to be as soon as possible, and by shopping centers who use it to help shoppers find their way, but who also use it to advertise to people who are already in the building or immediate vicinity. The Federal Government is also very interested in the concept of indoor navigation for the fields of crisis intervention, emergency response, and law enforcement.
Indoor Localization is being developed for businesses more than individual users. Apple’s iBeacon is being used for that purpose, and has been for around the last three years. It sort of flips the concept of indoor navigation on its head by allowing users, usually businesses such as shopping outlets, to locate people in a store rather than allowing people to locate the store with the software. It is primarily used to target advertisements to people when they enter a store or pass a sale, though it is also used by other entities, like some museums to provide audio tours based on where the individual is in the building, not based on where a guide leads them. This technology is much more precise than the technologies used by individuals for indoor navigation, because it can operate on a smaller spatial scale. Indoor Localization, when connected with the Internet-of-Things also has potential for advanced payment methods and security systems.
How Ignite Can Help You
Ignite Outsourcing is a development company that provides advanced technology including support for indoor localization systems, advanced payment solutions, and mobile app development. Wherever you and your company are located, Ignite Outsourcing can help you upgrade and maintain your existing indoor GPS systems, or help you create a system for your business’s specific needs.
Contact Ignite to start solving your indoor navigation problems today by learning how to contact borrowers and lenders from around the world through consultations with our team of development specialists.