Paving the way for indoor location, and the benefits of being agile

Indoor location is not a new problem. It has been around (unsolved) for years now and it is by no means news for us that Google and Apple are working on a solution. In fact, in our first months of the company, right after we embarked on a large* beacon installation in the UK in 2013/14, we were immediately contacted by Apple who wanted to have a meeting to understand how our technology was set up.

* Possibly the largest installation in Europe that year, covering around 180,000 sqm.

Wait, Google and Apple?

Needles to say, no tech company would like Google or Apple as competitors, let alone both. Both technology giants have proven track record of solving very difficult problems at scale, and at first glance it seems the odds are in their favour here too. Actually, however, it might not be so true when it comes to indoor location.

What about indoor location?

Pointr has three important core strengths that go into our secret (not) sauce, which is helping us onboard a number of multinational clients.

1- Accuracy

Apple and Google indoor SDK’s are based on signal analysis in venues, typically a combination of WiFi, Cellular and occasionally Bluetooth Low Energy. It is a mundane and error-prone process for setting up (called fingerprinting), but what’s worse is, as soon as venue goes through some change (e.g. a metal cupboard moved to the side, some doors shut or re-opened, or even a neighbour setting up a WiFi access point), this signal analysis becomes invalid, making the blue dot inaccurate.

Unlike what is usually advertised (1 metre seems popular), these solutions, on average, provide an accuracy between 30-40 metres and 10-15 metres at best. At worst, you might even find your blue dot at the other terminal building or outside the map! These are actual numbers provided to us by clients who tried and had bitter experiences.

At Pointr, we are proud to claim that we provide the highest performance solution on the market, with a typical accuracy of 1-2 metres. This is the result of our:

  • Patent-pending indoor positioning algorithm
  • Flexibility to work on fine level installation details for your venue
  • Experience with different venues and requirements
  • Customisation options for your venue
  • Last but not least, our blue dot works offline, ensuring users have the same experience even when they are abroad or without signal (Bluetooth is required though).

2- Data

Why are Apple and Google SDK’s free of charge? This question becomes easy to answer when you think of the benefits of the data. (Yes, when you use their SDK, they capture your users’ location information).

Indoor location data brings many opportunities, from contextual advertising to analysing how to re-design your shop layout, it even helps add premium services such as locating your car at car park or ordering food to your table from your phone. This is a big differentiation point from Apple and Google, as we give venues full ownership of their data and help them benefit from it with the right integration. Furthermore, we also provide on-premise installations for privacy-sensitive venues/data. In short, we keep data where it belongs, and turn it into benefit for the venue and its users.

3- Multiplatform

Why do people love Dropbox? Because it’s the same great experience for everyone, on every platform. Google SDK will mainly benefit your Android users whilst Apple SDK will mainly benefit your iOS users. And if Bing maps release an SDK soon, that will probably target Windows Phone users.

We provide native SDK’s delivering the same high performance and coherent experience across each platform.

Showcasing our latest algorithm at Level39:

Conclusion

Competition is tough but we are confident in the groundbreaking technology we’re building, and the team behind it.
We hope you had a great Christmas and new year. Stay tuned in 2016 as we will be announcing some very exciting projects!

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