NextNav, one of over 50 companies developing technology for indoor location positioning, has developed unique technology for enabling indoor positioning in metropolitan and urban settings. Their radio beacons are deployed throughout cities, and their signals can penetrate buildings and enable indoor positioning in places that GPS can't reach. Because they are deploying their beacons throughout cities, they have much broader coverage than Wi-Fi or BLE based approaches. They offer positioning in 3 dimensions, including altitude.
The press releases indicate that Broadcom is buying a commercial license to NextNav's technology, enabling them to add support for NextNav beacons to their chips, but are not acquiring the company itself.
Broadcom already offers chips that support a wide variety of indoor location positioning technologies, including W-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy, and MEMS-based sensor fusion (inertial navigation). This picture is from a demo that Grizzly Analytics saw 7 months ago at the MWC conference - the black device on the wall in the upper right is a beacon that their device was using (along with MEMS sensors) to determine positioning on the map. But these beacons, using BLE or other technologies, only reach within a short radius, and cannot offer the city-wide coverage that NextNav is envisioning.
Will Broadcom chips soon offer support for NextNav's Metropolitan Beacon technology? Is this a vote of confidence in NextNav's deployment? Will NextNav's technology be deployed in enough cities for this to give Broadcom an edge? Only time will tell. But the indoor location arena is continuing to heat up, and develop in new and interesting directions.....