A new report published by ABI Research today states that Apple's acquisition of WiFiSLAM has brought smartphone indoor location technologies to the fore. With over 1 billion new smartphones forecast to utilize indoor location technologies in 2018, there are still significant opportunities for companies with the right technologies and strategies.
In ABI Research's latest Location Technology report titled "Smartphone Indoor Location Technologies," it has forecast the adoption of different indoor location technologies, and the companies' best placed to be successful.
ABI's senior analyst, Patrick Connolly stated that they "see a significant trend towards hybridization, with Wi-Fi, BLE and sensor fusion vita. By 2014, hybrid solutions will have already surpassed standalone indoor location technologies on smartphones, with Wi-Fi and sensor fusion hybrid solutions reaching over 900 million units in 2018. Longer term, technologies around optical light, object recognition and LTE-direct are all forecast to offer differentiation."
This is another area of technology where all of the major platforms are racing to develop indoor location services. The report states that Google is developing its own Wi-Fi indoor location solution and we know that Microsoft has a few patents on this already.
We posted a full report on Microsoft's first patent back in April. A second patent surfaced in June at the US Patent Office titled "Enhanced Navigation through Multi-Sensor Positioning." Microsoft's patent filing states that the invention includes "the ability to navigate to and to locate other users within an enclosed space and the ability to navigate to and locate objects and items of interest." That patent goes so far as to note that this is an application that may one day apply to a future heads-up display.
A month after the news that Apple acquired WiFiSLAM, a patent application of theirs came to light in respect to finding a car within a garage. The app would require some form of indoor navigation software for a future iPhone.
The timing of such software on an iPhone is unknown at this time. However, it's clear that Apple, Google and Microsoft are in a race to get this technology to their respective smartphones and tablets first. However, what really matters to consumers isn't who's first but rather who will be first with an indoor navigation solution that's actually useful and easy to use.