Heike Roettgers is a freelance internet and mobile consultant, helping agencies and start-ups with product strategy and roadmap planning, product concepts, product management and project management.
Mobile navigation has made serious moves in the world of in-car navigation. Many mobile apps can provide the same turn-by-turn voice navigation that drivers have come to expect. But the presence of your phone in your pocket opens up a new avenue for mobile navigation: pedestrian and indoor navigation.
A whole niche industry is developing around finding solutions for pedestrians – not only have both TeleAtlas and NAVTEQ launched pedestrian routing products, but both are also working on ways of how to make indoor navigation possible. The development of new technology is key to this area. Jérémie Bouchard, Director and Principal analyst of MEMS at isuppli Deutschland GmbH showed the history of the tech, from sensors and accelerometers in the Wii in 2006 to compasses and gyroscopes in iPhones in 2008. The iPhone 4.0 will have all three of the main ingredients for navigation: an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a compass. Bouchard predicts that motion sensors will be available in 75% of all phones by 2014. By 2012 he thinks that, in order to help with indoor navigation, technology will have to be put into buildings themselves: pressure sensors will be used more and more in order to help with floor accuracy, when inside a multi-storey building.
But for indoor navigation, sensors are only part of the solution. According to Bouchard, they will be combined with other technologies such as WiFi and cell tower triangulation, bluetooth and cameras. Key players for implementation are navigation chipset companies which have all these technologies in-house, such as Qualcomm, CSR/SIRF and Mediatek.
Ian Sheret, Consultant at Polymath Insight, expanded on the topic of “hybrid positioning”, where information from motion sensors, GPS, WiFi and mapping are fused to create an extremely accurate location for a device. Motion sensors act as the glue which holds this kind of system together – because while hybrid positioning technologies are well advanced when it comes to locating a person indoors, the technical challenge is helping with navigation.
The general feeling is that the indoor navigation market is potentially huge. It could cover not only shopping malls, transport system and theme parks, but also hospitals, trade shows, etc. There’s even a workable business model for this – clients would pay for this service to give their customers a better experience. A future use is also to enable people to find a specific product within a mall – with increased accuracy of navigation down to 1m, this is potentially possible.
To get a better insight into the developing world of how mobile is changing the way people interact with the world, check out the People Tracking and Location USA conference, June 22-23, 2010 – Chicago from TheWhereBusiness