Prepare for indoor iPhone tracking as Apple buys WiFiSLAM

WiFiSLAM logo

It’s now common practice for the GPS location of your mobile device to be used by certain apps. Your location can help when using a mapping app to navigate to a specific location, for fitness apps that are tracking your progress running/walking, or for advertising when providing local offers. However, that GPS tracking falls apart when you go indoors as it’s difficult, if not impossible to maintain a signal and pinpoint your device’s location.

Apple looks set to fix that problem for its iDevices as the company has just acquired WiFiSLAM, a two-year-old Silicon Valley startup that specializes in tracking devices indoors.

WiFiSLAM has developed a system that utilizes the existing ambient WiFi signals within a building to track device locations with an accuracy of 2.5 meters. The company has so far offered its tech to developers wanting to map indoor areas, customer engagement for retailers, and social networking applications, but with Apple taking control, I suspect it will become an internal project specific to Apple’s devices.

WiFiSLAM building capture map

As far as acquisitions go, this one is tiny for Apple. It is thought they paid $20 million for WiFiSLAM whose founders include former Google software engineer Joseph Huang. And as is typical, Apple isn’t willing to discuss what plans if any they have for WiFiSLAM’s tech.

We recently heard about Cambridge Consultants developing a very accurate indoor location system that relies on a range of sensors, an algorithm, and Bayesian probability rather than GPS to figure out where you are. WiFiSLAM’s solution looks to be a lot simpler, and therefore much easier to ship as a core feature in a near future iOS release.

Now read: Facebook is working on 24/7 location-tracking app

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment