The buyer nobody considered: How Apple can leverage Yahoo

The past few weeks have brought the latest in several rounds of speculation regarding Yahoo! being acquired. Microsoft has been grabbing the biggest headlines, but speculation has discussed Verizon, Facebook and others.

I find it surprising that one of the most logical acquirers has not been mentioned. Namely Apple. Yahoo will compliment Apple's strengths, fill their gaps, and most importantly give them leverage for iDevice sales.

Apple, for all of their success in devices and media sales, does not have any strong position in mass market web services such as e-mail and search. Microsoft has Outlook (formerly Hotmail) and MSN.com. Facebook has mobile messaging (even for non Facebook users) and a controlling position in content consumption and advertising. Google has GMAIL and dominance in advertising. Apple, however, dominates media sales on iDevices through iTunes, but has very little for non-iDevice users. Are there any Apple services that are used by non-iDevice users?

Acquiring Yahoo would catapult Apple to a strong position in e-mail, search, news and other web services. While it will take work to turn around Yahoo's downward momentum, Apple has the cash to invest in it.

The critical factor, however, is that Apple can benefit from Yahoo's web services in ways that nobody else can. While others will look to Yahoo for direct profits, Apple can leverage Yahoo for device sales.

Unlike Google and Microsoft, Apple's primary profits come from device sales. Sales of music and movies are profitable, but their primary value is in creating the unique value proposition of iPhones, iPads and iPods for media consumption. This is in stark contrast to Amazon, who profits primarily from sales and not from devices, and Google, who profits primarily from advertising and not directly from Android.

What this means is that even if Yahoo's services are not profitable enough to support a company, Apple will benefit heavily if they leverage Yahoo services to motivate iDevice sales.

GMAIL users looking to buy a smartphone know that they can get better Google integration on Android phones. Google contacts and calendar are strongly integrated with Android, and Google apps such as Maps are often more advanced on Android than iOS. This Android support for GMAIL and Google services has paid off for Google: GMAIL user numbers have risen from 96M to 135M in the past 2 years, largely attributed to GMAIL being integrated with Android.

Suppose Yahoo mail users knew that iDevices would offer stronger support for Yahoo mail than Android? Suppose Yahoo contacts and calendar were integrated directly with iDevices? If Apple would gain even a small percentage of additional iDevice users, it would gain much more from Yahoo ownership than direct profit.

What other company can benefit so much from Yahoo services even if the profit from Yahoo services is lower than desired?

To date the idea of Apple acquiring Yahoo is pure speculation. It is true that most Apple acquisitions have been fairly small technologies that fill gaps in Apple's technology roadmap. They have had numerous acquisitions in the hundreds of millions of dollars range, but few in the Billions, and none the size of Yahoo.

But Apple's war with Google and Microsoft is heating up. Apple is losing device market share to Android devices, and when Apple's business model is built around device sales, this market share is central. As increasing numbers of smartphone buyers base their buying on e-mail and software integration, a Yahoo acquisition might be just the trick for Apple to counter Google.

Newly updated report on Sub-Meter Accuracy Indoor Location Positioning Technologies

Out of over 200 companies developing and delivering technology for indoor location positioning, the 28 companies profiled in the newly updated Grizzly Analytics report on Sub-Meter Accuracy Indoor Location Positioning Technologies deliver indoor positioning to an accuracy of less than one meter. While this level of accuracy is not important for some applications, for many applications it is critical.

For solutions determining which store in a shopping mall a user is in, or which booth in a conference a user is near, positioning within several meters may be sufficient. But for solutions tracking whether a customer is standing in front of the pretzels or the chips in a supermarket, or which patient in a hospital ward a nurse is checking, or other similar applications, accuracy within less than a meter is necessary.

In the past year we have seen particular growth in four specific areas. The first is dedicated hardware systems that track the locations of smartphones using innovative methods. The second is lighting based systems, in which customized LED lights transmit signals that are received by smartphone cameras. The third is visual camera-based systems, which use computer vision technology to determine location or track motion. The fourth is the incorporation of high accuracy location positioning chips into electronic appliances, such as wearables, Internet of Things, Smart Home, and
more. In addition, a small number of companies have achieved submeter accuracy by adding innovation to common software based methods.

The 28 companies whose technologies are analyzed below are on the cusp of high accuracy indoor location technologies. These companies present the opportunity right now to deliver highly accurate location positioning indoors.

Click here for more details on the report on Sub-Meter Accuracy Indoor Location Positioning Technologies, or e-mail us for more information.


Intel's IoT demos at CES show the importance of location in IoT

Summary

Intel has focused very strongly recently on the Internet of Things and wearable markets.
In their showcase at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, they showcased several applications of IoT that involved location tracking.
Their incorporation of chip-based location tracking technology shows the significance of location tracking in the nascent Internet of Things and wearable markets.

It was just announced that Intel's air-band demo used wireless location tracking chips from Dublin-based DecaWave. DecaWave sells chips and embeddable components based on Ultra-Wideband (UWB) radio that can track chip locations to within 10cm. More important than accuracy is the speed of update - the DecaWave chips update location calculations between 125 times per second and 2000 times per second, depending on the configuration....

See the full article here at SeekingAlpha.



Location Aware Consumer Electronics at CES 2016

One of the most exciting new trends in consumer electronics is taking a page out of a mobile industry playbook: indoor location technologies.

GPS has transformed mobile applications, with wide varieties of apps incorporating location into social networking, store finding, media sharing, news, and much more. Newer technologies, most famously Bluetooth beacons, have started to enable location apps to determine locations indoors.

What does this have to do with consumer electronics?

The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) includes several innovative consumer electronics devices that use indoor location positioning technology to deliver incredible functionality to their users. Many of them are doing so using innovative chip-based indoor location technologies, delivering better accuracy than is available on mobile. As the products you can see at CES reach market, the new trend of location-aware electronics can transform how people use electronic devices, as surely as GPS has transformed mobile apps.

Below are a few location-aware electronics products that you can see at CES. Each one is cool, innovative and useful in their own right. But taken as a group, they show how big a trend location-aware electronics will be in 2016.

Skye Electronics, a Chinese start-up company, has developed a drone that will follow you as you move around and video you from the air. Their product includes tracking device armbands that are worn by the user being videoed, and which are followed by the drone. Rather than using GPS, which would limit their product to outdoor use and would introduce tracking errors of several meters, Skye Electronics uses indoor location technology to track the armbands precisely, anywhere.

Paris-based SevenHugs has developed a radically different kind of universal remote control. Everyone knows about universal remote controls, right? Lots of buttons that let you select which device you’re controlling? Wrong. SevenHugs’ neweset product lets you point the remote at whatever you want to control, and figures out by itself what you want to control, using indoor location technologies. The remote determines its own location, the location of the controllable things in the vicinity, and the orientation and direction in which it is being pointed, and can easily determine what to do based on how the remote is held. It even changes its display screen to fit the controls of the device being controlled. You can see the SevenHugs remote at CES in the Eureka Park at Sands Expo.

If you play sports, and want to do more than have a drone capture your video, ShotTracker might interest you. ShotTracker tracks all the action on a basketball court. Not only are the players tracked as they move around the court, but the ball itself is also tracked, so that coaches and players can see exactly what happened post-game. ShotTracker developed a ball with an integrated UWB chip in collaboration with Spalding, to ensure the highest quality with added location tracking technology. Their highly accurate location positioning is handled by chips from Dublin-based DecaWave. You can see the newest ShotTracker system in action at CES in the Fitness & Technology area.

A shopper assistant robot, from a Taiwanese company called XYZ Robot, moves around a store with customers, offering assistance and pushing their cart. The robot’s indoor location technology enables it to find its way around the store and also to stay alongside the customer. Their shopper assistant guides you to products on your shopping list, pushes your cart and offers you promotions. By delivering this indoor location functionality in a robot instead of a mobile app, Kinpo enables their device to achieve much more accurate indoor location positioning than can be achieved by smartphone apps.

There are more location-aware electronics to be seen at CES, and even more reaching market from innovative companies worldwide. One notable location-aware product not at CES is the robot camera from France-based Move ‘n See, which uses indoor location tracking to take videos of people as they move around a site.

All of these location-aware electronic products, and others, use indoor location positioning technology to incorporate location positioning into their products. This report analyzes indoor location solutions available in chip form, for incorporation into electronic devices such as those above. DecaWave, mentioned above, is one of the leaders in bringing chip-based location technologies to market, but there are many others with very strong technology as well.

The spread of indoor location technologies from mobile to chips is enabling electronic devices to become location-aware, and is ushering in a tidal wave of location-aware electronics that will change how we use the next generation of electronic devices.

Regardless of which of these products you want to own, the trend is clear: location aware electronics are reaching market. So keep your eyes out for location-aware electronic devices at CES, and keep on imagining how location-awareness can transform the other electronics in your life.

Indoor Location Positioning Testbed at the Geo IoT conference in May 2016



Grizzly Analytics is excited to announce that we will be conducting the indoor positioning testbed at the Geo IoT Conference, in May, 2016, in Brussels. 

Participating vendors & researchers can demonstrate their technology solutions and have them measured along a wide variety of metrics, including accuracy, latency (update speed), resilience, infrastructure requirements, setup time, power requirements, etc. Analysis and comparisons will be segmented, including between mobile systems and hardware/chip solutions.
Want to participate in the indoor positioning testbed? Want to speak at the conference, sponsor it, exhibit or participate in other ways? See details and submit your name on the conference site, or contact us to sign up or ask questions.

Robot Camera Foreshadows an Era of Location-Aware Electronics

A French company called Move 'N See produces a line of camera robots. Their devices act as a smart tripod, holding a video camera and automatically moving and zooming the camera as people of interest move around a site.

The idea is simple but amazingly innovative. Photo selfies are easy to take, but video selfies are next to impossible. How can I video myself playing football or doing gymnastics, without setting the camera so far back as to be useless? Do spectators want to spend an entire sporting event carefully videoing their friend or relative moving around the field?

Enter Move 'N See's "personal robot cameramen." Their devices aim, pan and zoom a video camera as one or more people move around an area. The people of interest wear armbands whose locations are tracked, enabling the camera controller to know where to aim the camera. The camera controller also includes enough smarts to adjust the camera smoothly and to capture multiple people evenly. The armbands also have buttons that give a certain level of control to the person being filmed.

In short, Move 'N See's products enable selfie action videos.

Move 'N See's first product, called E-FULLMOTION, was designed for use outside. E-FULLMOTION's armbands include GPS receivers to track their location and send location updates wirelessly to the camera controller. But E-FULLMOTION only works outside, where GPS reception is available. How could such a product be developed to work indoors?

Enter Move 'N See's second product, Pixio. Pixio uses indoor location technology, in the form of UWB chips from DecaWave, to track armband locations indoors. UWB enables the Pixio camera controller to know where the armbands are to within 10cm, in real-time. UWB also uses much less battery power than GPS, and provides a wireless communications channel to communicate when players press buttons on their armbands. At the end of this article you'll see a great video that Move 'N See made of Pixio in action.

Pixio looks like a great product - incorporating indoor location technology to do something important for people. The technology is great, but the product is about video, not about technology. Pixio can be used to film not only sports but performing arts, conferences, children at play, and much more.

EVEN MORE EXCITING is the trend that is foreshadowed by Pixio. Grizzly Analytics believes that 2016 will be the year of location-aware electronics. Indoor location technologies are available in chip form, with high accuracy and low power consumption, designed and packaged for easy integration into electronic products. These products can be cutting edge, such as home robots, drones, smart homes or Internet of Things devices, or they can be smarter versions of routine products like cameras.

A new report from Grizzly Analytics analyzes chip-based indoor location technologies from 19 companies, including 10 that are delivering chips or components that incorporate indoor location into electronic products and devices.

Pixio is not the first location-aware electronic product on the market. For example, there are numerous products on the market that enable you to find your keys and wallets. (Here's one that we saw a while back.) But only now is location technology entering general-use products such as cameras.

As location chips become easier and easier to integrate into electronics, the sky's the limit for products that can work smarter and better using location awareness. Grizzly Analytics believes that 2016 will be the year in which location-aware electronic products make a huge splash in the market.

So if you are in the electronics business, you might want to take a look at chip-based location technologies and consider how you can use them. If you're not in the electronics business, you still might want to keep your eye on location technologies and the changes they're bringing. They're not just for tech products anymore....

Finally, check out this video of Pixio in action....


New report on Chip-Based Indoor Location Positioning Technologies

Grizzly Analytics just released its latest report, on Chip-Based Indoor Location Positioning Technologies. This niche-area report analyzes tech from 19 companies.

Why is chip-based indoor location technology interesting? Aren't the algorithms the same as those implemented in software?

First, chip-based location tracking can be incorporated into electronic devices, such as Internet of Things devices, Wearables, Smart Home devices, robots, drones, toys, and more. These devices don't have mobile operating systems to run apps, but they can do incredibly cool things if they can track locations accurately. New chips profiled in this report are delivering location positioning in a way that can be implemented effectively in devices - accurate, low power, small chips, easy integration, and more.

Second, some of the chips profiled are next generations of chips already in the market, either GPS chips, Wi-Fi chips or sensor analysis chips. If previous generations of these chips are already incorporated in today's smartphones, then the new generations of these chips, with indoor positioning capabilities, are slated to be incorporated into 2016's smartphones. This means that the chips profiled here are poised to bring indoor location to smartphones, soon.

Third, chips can often perform indoor location positioning more effectively, closer to the sensors or radios, without waiting for application processors to get around to running an app. Many of the chips profiled have a refresh rate of hundreds of times per second, much better than smartphone software can usually do.

If you want to know more, check out the report, or contact us at info@grizzlyanalytics.com for more information.

TCS acquires Loctronix

Indoor location technology start-up Loctronix has just announced that it is being acquired by TeleCommunication Systems (TCS).

 

Seattle-based Loctronix has developed a wide range of highly technical methods for location positioning. Their algorithms improve both motion sensing and radio-based location measurement. The company had previously been working to have its technology implemented in chips or device hardware, because of the level at which their algorithms operate, but this appears to be pivoting in light of their acquisition by TCS.

A partial list of their innovative technologies include:

  • DAIN: Doppler Aided Inertial Navigation, including sensor fusion motion sensing and step estimator
  • SCP: Spectral Compression Positioning
  • RSS: Radio Signal Strength Profiler
  • MEP: Mobile Explorer Platform

TCS is quietly a true leader in mobile location systems, with systems deployed on both feature phones and smartphones worldwide, primarily in conjunction with carriers, but most often white labeled under other brand names. For this reason, people outside of the industry often have not heard of TCS's name, even if they have used TCS systems.

Most of TCS's location technologies to date have relied on well-known algorithms running on cellular networks. Acquiring Loctronix will give them a boost in hard-core technologies for both their traditional areas of radio-based positioning and also motion sensing.

TCS is a big player in the growing area of E911, determining the location of mobile callers to emergency numbers. While this is less "sexy" an area than routing store customers to the products they want to buy, it's a critical piece of the evolving mobile infrastructure, and one that has significant resources behind it. E911 is also mandated by governments worldwide, so it's a market that's sure to grow.

Grizzly Analytics wishes good luck to Loctronix in their new corporate home, and also to Loctronix in absorbing and deploying the advanced technologies they're acquiring.

TCS's acquisition of Loctronix is the latest of several acquisitions of indoor location companies in 2015. ByteLight was acquired by Acuity, HP acquired Aruba reportedly with an eye on their indoor location technology, and ShopKick was acquired by SK Telecom at the end of 2014. The area is heating up and coming to the fore of mobile innovation!

See here for more on Grizzly Analytics coverage of over 150 indoor location companies.






Acuity shows VLC indoor location solution based on ByteLight acquisition

At the recent PLACE Conference in New York I had the pleasure of seeing a demo of Acuity's indoor location positioning based on LED light modulation. Acuity acquired ByteLight a few months ago, and Acuity's indoor location solution is now incorporating ByteLight's technology.

We've discussed LED modulation for indoor location positioning before (here and here), and Acuity is not the only company bringing it to market. But the demonstration that I saw was very impressive, and Acuity is a huge player in the lighting space. The fact that a huge lighting company is focusing heavily on indoor location shows how strong the interest is in this area.

LED modulation is a technique that enables every LED lightbulb to transmit a unique identifier by making tiny changes to the lightwaves they shine. These tiny lightwave modulations cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be detected and decoded by the camera on a smartphone or tablet. Software on the devices can detect which ID's are being transmitted by nearby lights and calculate how far away and at what angle each of the lights are. The devices then use a technique called triangulation (or multilateration) to calculate their own 3D position and orientation.

Acuity reports that their solution can give indoor location position to an accuracy of 5-10cm, with vertical accuracy of 20cm. which is as accurate as any other indoor solution running on smartphones, and more accurate than most. This solution joins the ranks of other indoor location solutions delivering sub-meter accuracy. The tradeoff of the LED modulation approach is that mobile device cameras use a lot of energy, resulting in battery drain.



In these pictures we see the Acuity booth and their location positioning demo. See the demo in action in the video below.

If you look closely in this picture (click on it to see it full-size), we see an artifact of the LED modulation. The horizontal lines across the light do not show in pictures taken of other lights, and are due to the LED modulation that signals this light's ID.

The biggest trade-off in this approach to indoor location, of course, is the requirement to replace a site's lights with Acuity's LED lights, and to equip them with the Acuity controller that carries out the LED modulation. Acuity and others are promoting their solution in terms of long-term savings on electricity and maintenance, but it is still a cost that must be considered. 

Acuity is not the only companies delivering VLC technology in LED lighting. GE Lighting and others are delivering similar solutions, and Qualcomm QTI is delivering related technology, and others are researching the area. But Acuity is a company devoted to lighting, and bottom line, their technology looks great.

One interesting aspect of Acuity's solution is that they are also using BLE beacons to track a device's location, albeit less accurately, when it is in the user's pocket. This enables their solution to deliver geofencing, and "waking up" when nearing a particular area and notifying the user of a reason to open up the device.

LED modulation for indoor location positioning has been the subject of R&D for years, and it's great to see it continuing to reach market! Learn more about VLC and other indoor location technologies in this comprehensive report.

Now check out the video of the Acuity demo.....




Indoor location technology achieving sub-meter accuracy

Indoor location positioning is currently one of the holy grails of the mobile technology world. With hundreds of millions of people using mobile-based GPS applications every day, the demand is clearly huge for location-aware mobile apps. There are over 150 companies developing indoor location technology, and a number of well-known technology approaches, but bottom line, it's still reaching market.

One of the key challenges in developing and deploying indoor location technology is clearly how accurate it is. Many indoor location systems, including those based on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals, are accurate only to within 5-8 meters. In many applications this is fine. If I want my phone to know what store or coffee shop I'm in, 5-8m accuracy is sufficient to distinguish Starbucks from JC Penny. But if I want my phone to know if I'm standing in front of the pretzels or the potato chips in the supermarket, I need better.

As a side point, GPS outdoors is only accurate to within 3.5 meters or more, at least in its mobile device form. But when you're driving with your favorite GPS app, the app will do what's called "snap to road" to make the location positioning appear a lot more accurate than it is. This is why, for example, if your planned route is to exit the highway, and you choose to stay on the highway instead, your phone will think you've taken the exit until your position on the highway is sufficiently far from the exit ramp. So when we talk about accuracy in indoor location technology being only 5 meters, this is roughly the same as GPS, it's just harder to fake (er, compensate) indoors.

A newly updated report from Grizzly Analytics analyzes technologies from 25 companies that achieve sub-meter accuracy, meaning that the location calculated by the system is within one meter of the actual location. A previous version of this report, from 7 months earlier, covered only 17 companies, so the number of companies achieving this high level of accuracy is going up as the technology in the area matures.

Only two of the systems profiled in this report use the "standard" indoor location approaches such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth/BLE and motion sensing. It's simply very hard to get systems based on these technologies down to one meter accuracy, because of inherent challenges in estimating distance based on radio signal strength. Besides the two companies that succeeded using these approaches, virtually all those achieving sub-meter accuracy used other approaches.

The biggest change between the previous report and the newly updated report is the number of technologies that are based on cameras. Some companies are comparing the scenes seen by a device's camera to a database of scenes around a venue to see which location best matches what the device is seeing. Other companies use the running video stream from a device camera to plot the device's movement by measuring the changes in the scene. Camera-based approaches to indoor location used to be esoteric, but they are now increasingly achieving good results.

Many new systems, particularly industrial approaches that track tags instead of tracking smartphones, are using UWB. Unlike Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, UWB radio is engineered to enable much more accurate location and distance measurement. UWB-based indoor location systems started to reach market at the end of 2013, and more and more are coming out each month.

Finally, many of the systems delivering sub-meter accuracy, particularly on smartphones, are using new and innovative approaches. Some use entirely new methods of measuring radio signals, while others use innovative and esoteric kinds of signals that can be measured on smartphones. These are true areas of innovation, which are exciting technically and are more and more delivering great results.

Again, there is more to indoor location than sub-meter accuracy. Some approaches target tracking smartphones passively, regardless of the accuracy. Some approaches target low infrastructure cost and effort, at the expense of accuracy. Some are designed to self-learn a new environment, to enable universal applicability. But for those who need high accuracy, there are more and more sub-meter accuracy systems reaching market.

Is the day coming soon where apps will help hundreds of millions of people get around malls, stores, exhibitions, museums, office complexes, and other sites, as they do outside now? For those applications requiring accuracy, we're getting closer every month.


PLACE Conference in New York City in June



Grizzly Analytics founder Bruce Krulwich will be speaking and moderating a technology panel at the PLACE Conference in New York City, on June 9. Contact us at info@grizzlyanalytics.com for a discount code for $200 off the registration price, or to schedule a face-to-face meeting before or after the conference.

PLACE is the premier conference for indoor location technologies, particularly their use in retail.

See you there!

MTI's Indoor Location Positioning Based on Ultrasonic Sound at MWC 2015

Every year I love going to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Besides the hands-on time with new phone models and new technologies, I like to meet with people from all over the world, both in start-up companies and at major companies, that are developing innovative new technologies.

A year ago I reported seeing indoor location positioning technology from a company in Japan called MTI, based on an innovative approach using ultrasonic sound. In a nutshell, MTI deploys small speaker units that transmit ultrasonic sound signatures, that people can't hear but that can be received on a smartphone's microphone. Each speaker unit, acting as a beacon, transmits a unique signal. The MTI application on a smartphone will receive a collection of those signals, from all the speaker units within range, along with volume levels for each signal that indicates how far away the speaker unit is from the phone. Given a database of locations of the speaker units, MTI's system uses multilateration to estimate the location of the phone based on the signals from the speaker units and the known locations of those speaker units.

In 2014, MTI's technology was fairly raw, as can be seen on my video from then. One year later, at MWC 2015, MTI has a polished system that demonstrates indoor location position that is reliable (even in a very noisy environment such as MWC) and fairly accurate. Moreover, MTI has several deployments, and will soon be marketing worldwide. My video of MTI's technology is below.

MTI is a major company in Japan, but this indoor location solution was developed by a small 6 person team. Their progress from MWC 2014 to MWC 2015 is fantastic.

MTI is one of the first companies to bring ultrasonic based indoor location positioning to market, but they're not the only ones working on it. Ultrasonic is one of a dozen or so indoor location technologies, and MTI is one of over 150 companies, analyzed and profiled in the recently updated Grizzly Analytics report on Indoor Location Positioning Technologies. See the Grizzly Analytics blog for more technology from MWC and elsewhere.

Here's the video of MTI's technology at MWC 2015:



Will indoor location positioning reach a "tipping point" and spread through the market in 2015? Will everyone soon be using their phones to navigate around a mall as they now navigate around the countryside? Will Facebook and Twitter know which coffee shop you're checking into, instead of just knowing which shopping mall you're in? Indoor location positioning technologies, from MTI and over 150 other companies, are gaining more strength and market success every day.

Check back soon for more on indoor location technology and other mobile innovations. You can also follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Seeing Quuppa's indoor location technology at MWC 2015

I first met Fabio and Kimmo from Quuppa in 2012, before Quuppa existed, when they had spent years researching indoor location positioning technologies at Nokia Research Center. Less than a year after that they formed Quuppa, independent of Nokia, to bring their technology to market. At the time I called Quuppa "the newest and oldest in indoor location positioning."

Fast forward two and a half years. Their technology has reached market, it can now track both smartphones and BLE devices, and it's accurate to within 20-50cm. Before reading more about their technology, take a look at a video of their demo in action:



Grizzly Analytics has analyzed indoor location technologies by over 150 companies, and virtually all of the radio-based technologies operate by measuring the distance between the device being tracked and other radio devices, and using these distance measurements for either multilateration or fingerprinting. For example, the well known BLE beacons measure a device's proximity to a BLE beacon by measuring the signal strength of the signals between the beacons and the device being tracked, and using that signal strength to estimate distance. This is also how most Wi-Fi based systems work, using signal strengths as estimates for distance measurement. Some systems use more sophisticated approaches to measure distance more accurately than can be done using signal strength (such as most UWB-based systems and such as some chip-based approaches), but they're still measuring distances.

But Quuppa's system doesn't measure distance, it measures angles. Their unique locator beacons are able to measure the exact angles at which the signal from the BLE device reached the locator, and use those angles to locate the device accurately. One locator by itself can do a reasonable job of positioning, and two or more can achieve the accuracy they promise.

Until recently, Quuppa's technology could only track custom BLE tags and devices, because their technology requires slight changes to the BLE signals transmitted. But recently, the latest iPhone and Android devices enabled applications to access the Host Control Interface of their BLE chips. As long as an iPhone or smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher is running the Quuppa app, that app can transmit BLE signals in a way that can be tracked by the Quuppa locators.

As the video shows, their system can also track a wide variety of other BLE devices. These BLE devices also need a small software change to transmit signals in a manner that Quuppa locators can track. But any BLE devices that supports software changes of this sort can be Quuppa-enabled.

There's a lot more to say about Quuppa's technology, and more details reported in Grizzly Analytics reports. Bottom line, Quuppa's technology delivers accuracy around 20cm, with real-time response, and can track the latest smartphones and a wide variety of BLE devices.

The catch, of course, is that Quuppa's locators aren't as cheap as simple BLE beacons or existing Wi-Fi access points, so using their system isn't for the faint of heart. Quuppa says that the total cost of ownership over time will be comparable to other systems, but I think their system needs to be thought of as a high-end system for people who want great accuracy and response time, and are willing to pay for it.

Bottom line, Quuppa's innovative technology looks great.


Intel demos indoor location technology in new Wi-Fi chips at MWC 2015

Intel made several announcements at MWC 2015, including a new chipset for wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) in mobile devices. This new chipset, the 8270, include in-chip support for indoor location positioning. Below we explain their technology and show a video of it in action. With this announcement, Intel joins Broadcom, Qualcomm and other chip makers in moving broad indoor location positioning into mobile device hardware.

The transition of indoor location positioning into chips is a trend identified in the newest Grizzly Analytics report on Indoor Location Positioning Technologies, released the week before MWC 2015. By moving indoor location positioning from software into hardware, chips such as Intel's enable location positioning to run continuously and universally, without using device CPU, and with less power consumption.

Intel's technology delivers 1-3 meter accuracy, using a technique called multilateration, generating a new location estimate every second. While 1-3 meter accuracy is less accurate than some other technologies that deliver sub-meter accuracy, most systems with sub-meter accuracy require dedicated infrastructure or preparation on a site-by-site basis. Chip-based approaches like Intel's can work universally.

While many applications need sub-meter accuracy, universal and continuous technology can deliver indoor location positioning to a wide range of applications, including social networking, picture geotagging, friend-finding and location-sharing, location-based reminders, emergency call geolocation, and more.

Intel's chip uses standard protocols to access the locations of 802.11mc-compliant Wi-Fi access points in area, and uses 802.11mc's Fine Time Measurement to measure the distances between the device and each access point. Multilateration then gives the device's location, the place that is the specified distances from the various access points.

The video below shows their technology in action, moving around the Intel booth at MWC. It's important to remember that this technology demonstration is based only on Wi-Fi based positioning, and does not incorporate motion sensing or other complementary technologies. Presumably a production-ready system would incorporate sensor fusion motion sensing to deliver an even smoother and more accurate experience. Given that, this demo is even more impressive.

For more details on indoor location technologies from over 150 companies, see the latest Grizzly Analytics report on Indoor Location Positioning Technologies. For more on chip-based indoor location positioning, see a video of Broadcom's technology here and details of Qualcomm's chips here.

Here's the video of Intel's technology demo:


We're looking forward to having chip-based indoor location positioning of this sort in our next smartphones!