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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.


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