Nokia planning Indoor Positioning

September 24, 2008 | 12:46

Tags: #garmin #gps #indoor-positioning #mapping #sat-nav #smartphone

Companies: #nokia #tomtom

If, like me, you've been cursed since birth with the worst sense of direction since Columbus decided he'd found India then you'll be pleased to hear that Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia is taking GPS somewhere it's never been before: indoors.

According to a post on the Nokia Conversations blog quoted by The Register, Nokia is currently in the early development stages for an indoor analogue to the Global Positioning System used in many of its phones to provide mapping and navigation facilities.

Built around as-yet unknown technologies – Nokia will only go so far as to say the system is “scalable and can be easily rolled out” – the new technology will allow for point-to-point directions while inside a mapped building.

Dubbed Indoor Positioning, the system is currently being trialled in around forty Nokia buildings worldwide, along with some unofficial maps of shopping centres, airports, and university buildings. From this we can gather the main market for the technology – and an idea of who would be fitting the bill for the not-inexpensive manual mapping required to get such a system working.

The company is also planning a small-scale commercial trial later this year in conjunction with a shopping centre based in Helsinki to “explore how revenue could be generated by this service.

The team behind the technology see the Indoor Positioning system being useful when you need to find “your seat at a football stadium, or that store you want to visit in a shopping centre,” and even go as far as foreseeing the system being used to “[find] a product in a supermarket.” I have to say, with the amount of use the GPS in my N95 gets I'm looking forward to the day when I get to play with the indoor version, which might not be too far in the future: the team has revealed that the app is “being considered for Beta Labs,” the Nokia site which provides pre-release versions of applications for its smartphones.

Would you find indoor location and mapping a useful tool built-in to your 'phone, or are you – unlike me – blessed with the uncanny ability to find your way in unfamiliar surroundings without a technological crutch? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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