With the prevalence of technology and smartphones, people have become accustomed to relying on navigational tools like GPS. But what happens when you are inside a building and need more precision than is possible with GPS? Similar to GPS, indoor positioning technology offers wireless location services on mobile devices for locating objects or people when inside a building.
Indoor positioning today can encompass a variety of different and evolving technologies. Some methods rely on setting up enabling technologies, like beacons, that send out signals that communicate with Bluetooth technology, Wi-Fi signals, or cell towers. Indoor positioning can also be set up using lights, where LED light fixtures are used to communicate, or magnetic fields, where a building’s internal magnetic field is used for determining location. Even cameras can be configured for indoor positioning. Users must enable their devices to communicate with the indoor positioning which could mean downloading an app or just turning on location services.
Indoor positioning is attracting a lot of excitement and has a lot of potential applications. Industries that are currently embracing the technology include retail, health care, transportation, government, construction, and leisure and tourism. In fact, walk through many malls and you will find stores that embrace this technology. Not surprisingly, Apple is one of them.
In addition to Apple, Google and Microsoft are all major companies that are examining how they can profit from indoor positioning. However, Apple was in the forefront with its iBeacons, a Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology that was introduced with iOS7 and provides location-based services to iPhones and other iOS devices.
Indoor positioning technology, and all the products, apps, and devices that come with it, is projected to increase from the niche industry it is today to a billion dollar industry in just a few years. However, it is not just giants in the industry, like Apple, that are seeing growth.
There are several companies that are standing out amongst the giants when it comes to beacon technology and its various parts and applications, including Estimote, iGate, Navizon, Aisle411, and MiBeacons.
Construction stands to benefit from this emerging technology. Mobile devices that automatically know their location in a building could make it easier to get the right information to the right people on the jobsite.