Finnish startup IndoorAtlas wants to become the go-to technology for navigating indoors. If the company gets its way, you’ll never get lost inside a mall or department store again.
It maps out indoor locations using the magnetometers already found in your smartphone to detect magnetic anomalies that come from things like steel beams, and other obstructions in inside buildings. IndoorAtlas offers its API to companies and retailers to create indoor-location applications.
Since IndoorAtlas has its eyes set on U.S. retailers, it recently opened up an office in Mountain View, Calif.
“This is where the whole battle for indoor positioning will be fought,” IndoorAtlas CEO Jaane Haverinen tells Business Insider. “Finland is a great market, but you have retailers with thousands of stores in the U.S. Our solution is only scalable solution without hardware.”
That might sound like a lofty claim, but if anyone could accomplish such a feat, Haverinen seems to be the right person to do it.
Haverinen is the co-author of “Global indoor self-localisation based on the ambient magnetic field,” a widely passed around paper that explores how animals use local anomalies of Earth’s magnetic field for true navigation.
There are three main benefits to IndoorAtlas, the company maintains:
- Product search for pinpointing the location of an item in any given retail store.
- Its blue dot positioning shows customers how to navigate to an item.
- Product proximity positioning (opt-in)enables retailers to push recommendations and deals to customers on their smartphone or tablet.
The Macy’s in New York City, “the world’s largest store,” is a complete nightmare. I’ve personally wasted hours trying to find items and navigate through the store. If Macy’s were to use IndoorAtlas’s technology, it would arguably make for a much better in-store experience.
IndoorAtlas already has 15 patents filed, and has raised €600,000 in funding.
Though, IndoorAtlas has quite the handful of competitors. In fact, there are hundreds of companies working in this space, IndoorAtlas tells us. Those competitors include Google, WifiSLAM, Samsung, Walkbase, and Qualcomm.
Take a look at the video below to see IndoorAtlas’s technology in action at a grocery store.
Disclosure: Finnish funding agency Tekes and Finnfacts, a non-profit media service organisation in Finland, paid for my trip to Helsinki to explore the startup scene.
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