Let’s face it, GPS has completely changed our lives. As someone who is directionally challenged, every time I step in my car I am thankful that I have Google Maps to direct me to my destination. No need to pull over and look at the map, and no need to print Mapquest directions the night before and read through the list as I drive. Most importantly, when I’m craving Chipotle, my map takes me to Chipotle. I frequently think about how much value GPS has added to most every person’s life. Not only does GPS save people the time and mental energy it takes to plan a route, it allows them to make on the fly decision as to what comes next in their day with minimal friction. Think about how much value can be added if we could do the same thing, indoors.
Indoor localization is something that universities and research labs have been working on for years. Indoor localization uses what is called an Indoor Positioning System(IPS) to locate people or objects by transmitting radio frequency waves throughout an indoor setting. When a frequency wave reflects off a person or an object, the device that transmitted the radio frequency will know that something or someone is there. If the recipient is static, it will be identified as an object; if the recipient is moving, it will be identified as a person. If you tie this data to an indoor map of the building taken by a robot with a video camera, you have yourself an indoor version of Google Maps.
The value GPS has added to our lives is well known, but the question I have with indoor localization is, what value can it add for businesses? Imagine how retail stores can benefit from shoppers using an app to locate their store in a shopping mall, or even to locate a particular product within the store. Offices that host clients or development labs that host customers can allow their guests to roam around the office to visit different departments or grab a snack at the kitchen by simply using a map on their phones. And how much easier would it make your life at CES!
Indoor localization is a very interesting technology, which I believe will bring significant value to businesses. I am interested to hear how you think it can be applied to drive business value in various industries. Please share your thoughts in the comments section!