In-Location Alliance aims to drive indoor positioning services and solutions

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The In-Location Alliance was launched today by 22 companies with an aim of driving innovation and market adoption of high accuracy indoor positioning (HAIP) and related services. A number of high profile name from the mobile industry are among the founding members: Broadcom, CSR, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, and Sony Mobile Communications.

HAIP would allow a experiences similar to GPS based navigation, but inside, where GPS signals cannot usually penetrate. For example, it could be used to direct you to the correct gate at an airport, a specific shop in mall, or a difficult-to-find food item in a supermarket.

The Alliance says:

"The aim of the In-Location Alliance is to act as a pioneer opening up new business streams for indoor environments. Indoor positioning is the next frontier of mobile services, offering great opportunities to enhance consumer experiences. For the benefit of enterprises, the Alliance will drive a world-wide indoor positioning system for use in major venues. Our pilots, along with technical evaluations, are paramount for driving rapid market adoption."

The In-Location Alliance says that its members will be piloting (testing) the most promising services, considering both the business case (economics) and solutions (equipment installation) factors. The Alliance also aims to promote open interfaces and a standards-based approach, thus ensuring a multi-vendor environment is possible.

The initial technology is expected to be based on enhanced Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy technology and WiFi (using both existing and forthcoming elements of these technologies). Pre-commercial trials will begin in 2012, with the first mobile handset based implementations expected to arrive in consumer hands in 2013. HAIP is based on existing technology and is not expected to add significantly to handset prices, but it does require the installation of in-building equipment (usually some kind of antennae / transmitter). 

Founding members include of the In-Location Alliance include: Broadcom, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor, Eptisa, Geomobile, Genasys, Indra, Insiteo, Nokia, Nomadic Solutions, Nordic Semiconductor, Nordic Technology Group, NowOn, Primax Electronics, Qualcomm, RapidBlue Solutions, Samsung Electronics, Seolane Innovation, Sony Mobile Communications, TamperSeal AB, Team Action Zone and Visioglobe.

The road taken by HAIP is likely to be similar to GSM, Bluetooth, and NFC. All of these technologies started life as various research projects in a number of companies, but eventually became worldwide standards thanks to industry collaboration.

Nokia and indoor positioning

Nokia, one of the founding members of the In-Location Alliance, has a long-running interest in indoor positioning and Nokia Research Center has carried out a number of research projects and trials. It produced the video below to showcase some ideas about indoor positioning as a future technology.

Nokia Conversations has an article on the new alliance in which it explains Nokia's solution for HAIP, and underlines the strong position the company holds in this area:

Nokia has focused on and promoted the Nokia High Accuracy Indoor Positioning (HAIP) Solution, using a modified new generation, low energy feature of the Bluetooth 4.0 specification, that allows for an accuracy of one metre. The technology can also be extended to an accuracy of 20cm with additional changes.

The modification to the standards-based Bluetooth Low Energy has been developed and prototyped by Nokia, and the changes are being formalised by Bluetooth Special Interest Group body.

The indoor location of a component in a position or on an object can be calculated by HAIP antenna elements installed in the ceiling or the area from the reception of the wireless signal that is transmitted by the component. The components can be installed in a mobile device, or they can be made as separate tags, which can be attached to any asset.

This is the evolution of a system we first reported on at Nokia World 2010

Nokia's Jouni Kämäräinen is the chair of the In-Location Alliance, and, despite Nokia's strong position in this area, feels that the In-Location Alliance will be important in encouraging investment and adoption:

“We are seeing the value of cooperation with companies that are interested in bringing out products based on indoor positioning; we are accelerating the market deployment of these indoor positioning solutions and services and with the alliance we can predict that companies will be more willing to invest and start implementing of these features into mobile devices.”

Source / Credit: Nokia press release