It seems like just the other day we were writing an IndoorAtlas funding story - the company raised €3.3 million in June. But early this morning news broke that the Oulu, Finland and Mountainview, California company has raised $10 million (€7.61 million) from Baidu, China's leading search engine. With the funding, Baidu gets exclusive access to IndoorAtlas' indoor positioning technology in China.
And it's quite an interesting technology. GPS itself is about as accurate as the distance you can throw your phone (and is even worse indoors) so to provide down-to-the-spot data for shopping centers and warehouses, most indoor positioning competitors on the market use either bluetooth or wiki beacons placed strategically around an area to precisely triangulate where a device is.
Rather than taking that approach, IndoorAtlas uses the compass in your phone to figure out the unique magnetic signature of your location made up by all the rebar in the walls and other magnetic oddities, which saves on set-up fees and maintenance.
Indoor positioning technology like IndoorAtlas' is likely to be picked up by the retail, mining, and warehousing industry where it pays to have exact data of where your customers or employees are, or know where to exactly send them to. In the retail shopping example, you could give coupons immediately as a customer walks by a product, or for an Industry example, Metso has piloted IndoorAtlas to help navigate workers to the exact pumps or valves.
Janne Haverinen on the deal
According to the company, the investment round is a standard series A round, which also includes a commercial deal for exclusivity in China. However, the future is wide open and IndoorAtlas is still aiming to be a global player in the long-run, with a vision to map every building in the world.
In an interview with CEO Janne Haverinen & Inka Mero, Chairwoman of IndoorAtlas and Founder & Chairwoman of Koppicatch, an investor in IndoorAtlas, we were told that they first met Baidu in Silicon Valley, when participating in several events and were later invited to China, where things started rolling quite quickly. Mero commented the deal let's IndoorAtlas "... validate [their] technology in the most competitive market in the world, while the indoor location market is really picking up."
If you are wondering, why Baidu, then the answer is pretty straight forward. They have a lot of location based services under their belt, are one of the biggest companies in the world when it comes to map queries and are positioned in a market where mobile applications are moving very fast. "A lot of people are using these technologies and there are a large number of different players in the field [in China]. That's why Baidu is an excellent partner. This collaboration will really enable us to bring indoor location to everyone", says Harvinen.
“IndoorAtlas’ intellectual property portfolio and global geographical coverage will be instrumental in helping us at Baidu build out our LBS platform for local merchants in China and abroad.” says Baidu vice president Liu Jun. They are already planning to show-off IndoorAtlas technology running on Baidu Maps at the Baidu World Conference, which is to take place on the 3rd of September.
Magnet image by shutterstock