Indooratlas, the Oulu, Finland-based indoor positioning startup, announces it has commercially released its magnetic indoor positioning technology at New York's Adweek. To monetize their technology, they're bringing their solution to big box grocery stores and retailers to help customers find specific items in a store, at an accuracy level of 10 feet or less.
There are competing products on the market that can do similar indoor positioning for smartphones, but they don't have IndoorAtlas' ease of setup, nor is their technology as cool. Their competitors require wifi or bluetooth beacons set up throughout the store to provide triangulating signals for accurate positioning, while IndoorAtlas uses the built-in magnetometers in smartphones, which are sensitive enough to pick up the variations in the magnetic field caused by all rebar and steel I-beams that make up modern warehouse shopping centers.
You wouldn't be surprised if the military was using local geomagnetic field characteristics in order to search for underwater submarines. But it's another thing altogether when this type of technology can be put right into your smartphone for completely new uses. That's is what IndoorAtlas has done; by using a similar principle they enable indoor navigation without any anchoring to WiFi nodes. Now they tell is they have just closed roughly €500 000 in funding from both local and US investors.
While the homing pigeon is known for navigating back home over long distances, some other animals, such as the spiny lobster, are able to do the same on a more local level. Research has given some idea that these animals are able to derive positional information from cues that arise from the local anomalies of the Earth's magnetic field. With an accurate compass in every iPhone and Android device, a team of Engineers from the University of Oulu in Finland have created a new breed of indoor positioning technology that does not require WiFi or other beacons, but instead provides a major update to one of Man's oldest navigating technologies.
Using signal processing technology, the university team discovered that steel masses inside buildings twist the Earth's magnetic field such that every spot produces a unique pattern. “Each building, floor and corridor creates a distinct magnetic field disturbance that can be measured to identify a location and generate a map,” explains Dr. Janne Haverinen, the head of the project.
The team realized the practical potential of their findings. To provide a practical solution to be used by smartphone application developers, Dr. Haverinen’s research team has founded IndoorAtlas Ltd to commercialize the innovation. Along with the launch, the company also announces a seed capital investment from the Helsinki-based Vigo accelerator, KoppiCatch.