Edinburgh, UK-based Sensewhere has released the latest version of its positioning software, also called Sensewhere, which automatically crowd-sources and cross-references RF access point data via users’ own devices, cheaply and dynamically creating an almost limitless proprietary global RF location database that self-corrects with use.
The software is designed to allow social networks, device manufacturers and app developers to capitalise on the potential of highly-accurate indoor location.
The next big frontier for phone companies, social networks and apps developers is indoor positioning. Yet despite the huge opportunities no truly satisfactory indoor location solution has ever been found. All suffer from one or more of the same fatal problems; they are inaccurate or unavailable; they require occasional manual recalibration to remain accurate; or they are highly expensive and tied to individual buildings.
Like other existing indoor location systems, Sensewhere uses whatever hybrid RF location reference information the end-device can receive to fix a location; whether Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, UWB, NFC, RFID, GPS, etc. The system checks signals against its own database of fixed-location reference points, then uses proprietary low power algorithms to provide an accurate and reliable indoor location.
However, such an approach is only as good as the accuracy of the database that drives it, and this is where comparable solutions have fallen down in the past, as reference points in the ‘real world’ are often disconnected, moved or changed.
Sensewhere takes a different approach, uploading updated reference point information as it fixes a location. By cross-referencing this information from different sources, at different times, Sensewhere improves the accuracy of indoor location over time, autonomously mapping RF reference points in a way that is self-correcting, updated by every device that determines its own position, reliable, and more accurate than other solutions.
“This is the first time in the world anyone has produced this kind of automatically self-improving location network, requiring no input from the user. This represents the next stage in the evolution of location,” commented Rob Palfreyman, CEO, Sensewhere. “Sensewhere is less expensive, less time-consuming, and more accurate than more traditional methods of location database-building, such as “war-driving” or “fingerprinting”.
“List most of the major problems experienced with even the best indoor location networks to-date; accuracy; reliability; automation; cost-effectiveness: Sensewhere has provided the ideal balance of these considerations for economical, accurate real-world deployment.
“This is the first system capable of offering the level of indoor accuracy and reliability required for, say, storefront virtual advertising or voucher provision, while remaining a realistic commercial proposition for use nationwide. It has no physical infrastructure or setup costs in terms of installing dedicated reference points. Organisations simply need to ‘tie into’ Sensewhere’s software, and let Sensewhere’s backend systems do the work.”
Indeed, indoor location promises to be highly lucrative for whoever grasps the right system. Companies could provide advertising, promotions and directions within shopping malls, airports, clubs, casino, etc, through mapping applications, automated alerts, augmented reality and other value-add applications. More accurate location will also help social media users engage more closely with their chosen social media platform.
As well as allowing anyone to tie into its backend systems via simple APIs, Sensewhere has also produced front-end apps for iPhone, Android and Symbian, TrackPoint and PinPointer, that allow users to track and share their location and personal points of interest.