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January 19, 2009

Indoor positioning and more info on Nokia Locate Sensor

GLOBALNokia Locate Sensor sparked a surge of worldwide interest, and indoor positioning obviously plays a vital role in the development of this hot concept.

Since we brought you word of the Nokia Research Center refreshing its website and more clearly connecting the dots between Nokia concepts and real-life products and services last week, NRC has released an interesting new paper on Location, Context and mobile services. Granted it’s not super in-depth, nonetheless it does touch on some interesting aspects of NRC‘s plans in this crucial area of development, including a few much talked about projects including Nokia Point&Find, but also mentions lesser known developments such as the Nokoscope project (which we’ll talk about in a separate post this week), and also offers more information on NRC‘s approach to indoor positioning, indirectly yet pertinently referring to Nokia Locate Sensor and the technology behind it.

In the newly published paper from NRC, it openly addresses what it refers to as the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of GPS technologies:

“They don’t work well in the structures in which we find ourselves every day, such as offices, shopping malls, hospitals, and schools. Studies have found that 80 percent of our time is spent indoors. Being able to find friends or relatives in a sports stadium, for example, can save time and ease frustrations. For critical services such as law enforcement, fire departments, emergency personnel, or simply ordinary businesses, effectiveness often involves knowing immediately where people and resources are inside buildings and other complexes.”

Leading on from this it mentions the alternative technologies and solutions that are being pursued to improve indoor positioning:

“Nokia is working on ways to provide accurate indoor positioning using readily available infrastructures such as Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile clients. Our work with standards bodies to create open APIs will enable much more rapid rollout of these compelling services without the high cost and effort of current systems.”

In a very short section of the paper entitled ‘Where are my keys?’ it touches on the Nokia Locate Sensor concept, and mentions low power RFID tags as one of the key ingredients in locating tagged everyday objects such as your keys or glasses.

“Local positioning technology developed by Nokia makes mobile phones aware of the direction of and distance to nearby wireless-enabled devices—including lowpower RFID tags attached to eyeglasses, keys, and other easily misplaced objects. With GPS, any spot on earth can be found. Soon our misplaced keys may be, too, thanks to ubiquitous miniaturized receivers and compact direction-finding antennas in our mobile phones.”

What are your thoughts on indoor positioning. Is it as important as outdoor GPS-based positioning, and do you think a rock-solid solution would improve your mobile life? Scribble down your thoughts below.