Indoor Location Apps Lead to Compelling User Experience

November 9, 2011  - By

Indoor location technology is evolving; indoor mapping is coming along and apps that seamlessly work in and out of doors will make a compelling experience more compelling. Bringing mobile location to indoors will stimulate our industry. The killer app? Apps that can self learn to be personalized to a user’s life, lived in and out of doors (check traffic before I leave my desk). Hop on board.

Indoor Mapping. The indoor market is getting more interesting as Google’s Street View Mapping edges indoors. In a new pilot project, Google is providing glimpses through the front doors of retail businesses. Restaurants, hotels, stores, and other venues will show a 360-degree inside perspective. The imagery will appear on Google’s Places pages, all using the same Street View technology that enables its other map images. The company’s plans are to eventually allow users to virtually enter indoor spaces from street maps. It is a way for businesses to entice new customers. Companies in the pilot volunteer for inclusion. The project links nicely to indoor mapping plans under way.

Finding Location Indoors. Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) introduced a new mobile phone processor to improve the accuracy of indoor navigation. It is a “self learning” indoor location platform that fuses real-time Wi-Fi, satellite positioning data, MEMS sensors, and crowd-sourced location data. The company claims it can achieve continuous and rapid indoor position fixes. The system’s distinction, says CSR’s Dave Huntingford, is it doesn’t require manual surveys to build and maintain its Wi-Fi and cellular location data base. The CSR system debuts next year.

Leading Vehicle Integration. “The automakers that can provide the most elegant integration of vehicle and mobile apps will lead the next revolution of providing social media and other capabilities in cars,” states a report from market analysts IHS iSuppli. Integration is critical as automotive infotainment will derive functionality from smart mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Globally, Toyota and Ford lead in successful integration of car infotainment systems with mobile devices, IHS iSuppli reports. A study of production-ready applications showed that the Toyota Entune and Ford Sync AppLink apps had the highest performance on at least four criteria, including content variety, level of integration, daily relevance, and implementation.

Being Watched? The well-publicized case in front of the Supreme Court may define the power of police forces to put location devices on vehicles for surveillance. The court’s decision may extend beyond vehicles into the far more prevalent police practice of tracking cell phones. According to the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles police tracked 295 phones, up 35 percent from the previous year. The paper reports that a magistrate in Texas who approves cell-tracking requests has used public records to estimate that U.S. federal courts issue 20,000 to 30,000 cell-phone tracking orders annually. In 2010, in comparison, state, local and federal courts approved a little over 3,000 wiretaps.

Location Data too Accurate? Precise location info spawns lawsuit. Customers concerned about HTC’s location tracking practices have hit the company with a lawsuit. HTC is charged with using the AccuWeather app to track customer’s precise locations and providing it to advertisers who use it for location targeted ads. It boils down to location precision. The suit claims that HTC collects “unnecessarily precise” location data. Weather is a regional phenomenon based on coarse location and can be easily determined by cell towers, and not the GPS data HTC obtains. The AccuWeather app is integrated into some HTC phones and cannot be uninstalled, according to the suit. HTC can be added to the honor roll of company blunders that fuel concerns about the misuse of location data.

New Innovators. Localmind was one of the winners at recent competitions for young location-oriented companies. This real-time, location-based clever Q&A platform leverages social check-in services. Users can ask questions of others. For instance, someone might query about waits at a restaurant, liveliness at a bar, or the state of the Wi-Fi at a coffee shop. Another winner, Tagwhat, offers a multimedia location guide that reveals videos, photos, narratives, and audio about the world around people wherever they go, based on the users’ pre-selected, customized interests such as food, music, movies, heritage, and sports. Containment in a personalized bubble may or may not be a good thing. A third winner, Right Back on Track (RBT), enables schools to reduce truancy and drop outs. The system lets schools and families know the whereabouts of truant students to enable interventions to attract the students back in school.

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About the Author:

Janice Partyka is principal of JGP Services,, a consulting practice that helps companies with marketing strategy, including investigating new markets, ensuring product roadmaps match market needs, and creating marketing campaigns. Janice develops websites, social media, public relations and overall marketing communication. She also works as an expert witness for the mobile industry and conducts prior art searches for patent cases. Janice has served in leadership capacities in the wireless industry, leading marketing, business development, media and government relations, including serving as vice president of external affairs for TechnoCom Corporation. She briefed the Obama transition team on broadband issues. Janice was a twice-elected member of the board of directors of the E9-1-1 Institute, which supports the work of the U.S. Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus to ensure implementation of wireless E9-1-1, and she was telecom liaison to the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress. Janice is a frequent speaker at mobile and location industry events. Her webinars on mobile applications and technologies draw audiences from more than 40 countries. Janice Partyka is also the founder of, a web service that helps college students find the right major that will lead to a satisfying career. Contact: Janice Partyka at, Free subscriptions to Wireless LBS Insider are available at

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