Sensor-fusion indoor location system in over 30 malls in Singapore

SingTel just deployed indoor mapping and navigation from Swedish start-up SenionLab in over 30 shopping malls in Singapore, with 20 more in planning, in the biggest single deployment we've seen yet of customized indoor location technology.

The most significant aspect of this deployment is that this is one of the first commercial deployments of indoor location technology that uses a new technology approach called "sensor fusion," which uses sensors in smartphones (gyroscope, compass, accelerometer, ...) to track location by sensing the phone's movements.

Most indoor location systems determine location by measuring the signals of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots or cellular antennas, but this risks looking choppy as the phone waits for the radio signals to change to detect the next place it is. Sensing motion using phone sensors makes the system work more smoothly, regardless of radio signal details.  (The SenionLab solution does use Wi-Fi signals as well, to compensate for sensor errors, but their focus is sensor fusion.)

Sensor fusion motion sensing is not just a little techie detail, it's very important for the market, for a few reasons:
  1. Sensor fusion motion sensing is accurate and fast - Look at the videos below, you'll see impressively smooth indoor location tracking.
  2. Sensor fusion can run on iPhones - Many indoor location applications can't run on iPhones, because iOS doesn't give applications the Wi-Fi received signal strength data that they need for indoor location positioning.  But sensor fusion can in principle run on iPhone.  The SenionLab solution is being launched by SingTel only on Android, but Senion Lab is developing sensor fusion for iPhones as well.  We hope to see sensor fusion indoor location systems running on iPhones soon.
  3. Sensor fusion is a hot up-and-coming approach - It's been researched by Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, Motorola, CSR, Broadcom, STMicroelectronics and many other major mobile and chip companies.  There are also several other start-up companies bringing sensor fusion technology to market. We expect more action soon in the area of sensor fusion for indoor location, both deployments and company acquisitions.
Sensor fusion and all the other approaches being researched and developed for indoor location are explained in our comprehensive report on indoor location technology. For sites interested in deploying indoor location systems, we have a report that focuses on indoor location solutions available now.  The reports cover more than 30 start-up companies and research by over 20 major mobile companies.

For SingTel this is part of a huge effort to reinvent themselves with mobile and multimedia innovation.  They just announced a mobile payments initiative, they recently purchased a mobile advertising agency, they just launched a system for planning and coordinating group activities, they acquired a social network mobile picture company, they've released mobile location-based business search and bookings, and they're in the market for more innovative start-ups to acquire.  They seem an ideal partner for SenionLab's bringing innovative sensor-based indoor location technology to market.

Here's a video of the SenionLab solution in action in one of the shopping malls:

And here's a demo that Grizzly Analytics saw of SenionLab technology at MWC 2012:

Of course, the real significance of this deployment will come from user response - will it deliver features that users will want? Will it work smoothly and effectively?  Time will tell......

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