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September 23, 2008

Indoor positioning coming to life?

ESPOO, Finland – People spend most of their time indoors (up to 90 per cent, according to research). GPS only works outside. Indoor positioning then could prove to be one of those killer apps that could change the way we interact with the world. Kimmo Kalliola, research leader for Wireless Systems and Services, gave us an update on Indoor Positioning, which was first shown off last year.

It could be said that indoor navigation is more important than outdoor
navigation. No, not finding your way around the house in the dark, but
getting to your seat at a football stadium, or to that store you want
to visit in a shopping centre or, and this is a crazy one, finding a
product in a supermarket. That would be nuts. Even better and a real
problem solver, is finding the location of your car in a car park.
Imagine being able to take a picture of your car and then being able to
navigate your way back to it (actually – I’m going to do that next time
I leave my car in an airport car park!)

At work there are plenty of examples too. Finding a printer, or an
empty meeting room are regular workplace issues. Potentially, solved.

Wireless networks could be the key to finding your way around inside
but it’s only part of the answer. Making a solution that’s scalable and
can be easily rolled out is a much bigger challenge. How to map the
buildings, for example, is quite a challenge. Part of the answer could
come from the user community though, and in fact could become essential
to making this a success.

In fact, Nokia is already trialling indoor positioning in over 40 Nokia
buildings worldwide. And the first public buildings have already been
mapped, including some malls, airports and universities. Later this
year there’ll be a commercial trial with a shopping mall in Helsinki,
to explore how revenue could be generated by this service.

The best news though? This app is being considered for Beta Labs. Brilliant!