Nokia, Samsung, Sony Join Forces to Improve Indoor Navigation

Nokia, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Qualcomm have formed the In-Location Alliance, which will work to improve the accuracy of indoor positioning, the companies said on Thursday.

Indoor positioning is the next frontier of mobile services. Finding out where you are in a mall or a sports arena using a smartphone is difficult today because GPS coverage usually isn't available. Besides improving navigation accuracy in those kinds locations, the In-Location Alliance will also prioritize low power consumption and making the technology both easy to implement and use, according to a joint statement.

The primary underlying technologies will be Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. These technologies are already used in mobile devices and are therefore a good starting point for the Alliance's efforts. Pilots will start in 2012, while integration in smartphones and other devices and the first commercial consumer applications will arrive next year.

As indoor positioning becomes more accurate, it will open the door to new services. For consumers this could include receiving directions to the right products and promotions in nearby shops or using real-time navigation inside a building to help find a friend, the statement said.

The In-Location Alliance now has 22 members. The list also includes Broadcom, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor, Eptisa, Geomobile, Genasys, Indra, Insiteo, Nomadic Solutions, Nordic Semiconductor, Nordic Technology Group, NowOn, Primax Electronics, RapidBlue Solutions, Seolane Innovation, TamperSeal, Team Action Zone and Visioglobe.

Several important companies are missing, including Apple and Google, which both have a lot of interest in the location sector and indoor navigation. For example, earlier this year Google launched Maps Floor Plan Marker for Android, which is still in beta and aims to show users their location more accurately within indoor venues, the company said.

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