This Marks the Tipping Point for Indoor LBS
Last week was an exciting one for Indoor LBS! The big news was Apple's announcement and release at WWDC of new Core Location features that let app developers get precise indoor positioning data from an iOS device’s sensors. Here are a couple of articles:
The quick summary is that this new technology - available in iOs 8:
- provides location updates for getting indoor positioning;
- does not need a deployment of iBeacons mesh nor other technology.;
- Uses Wifi and motion sensors to determine device position.
We are going to need to test ourselves to confirm accuracy, of course, but this is Apple so we are expecting it will be pretty good. Further, we had tested WiFi Slam last year before it was acquired by Apple and now baked into the OS - and we can vouch for the ease of set-up and map callibration and "pretty good" accuracy and reliability of the solution. We will be interested to see if Apple has made any improvements.
But what is important here is that both Apple - and we think Google will match or better this at I/O later this month - are making big moves to bring the "Blue Dot" experience to a mass audience. That is going to drive user adoption, awareness and demand on an entirely new scale.
So, let the Era of Indoor LBS begin!
But Not So Fast
1. Apple can only address "public" spaces - Malls, Airports, etc. - where it is far behind Google. That is not to say that Apple can't do it, but nobody should confuse a technical capability with the actual hard work of mapping, or assume that "venue owners" will flock to upload floor plans and build out maps on Apple, which has far less
2. The owners of such "public" venues are becoming increasingly focused on controlling and monetizing their own maps. Yes Google & ;Apple will be there, but there is a lot of messiness in the business aspects of doing this mapping.
3. Apple still hasn't learned the lesson that the data really matters! It is great that developers can now capture/model the building's geometry more easily - but that has never really been tough. Floor plans or AutoCADS work just fine too. But that is NOT a map, and the data required for directions and navigation is a whole different ball game.
For more on this topic, see our blog: Indoor LBS: The Map Really Matters.
A map is only useful when all of the location and metadata related to that map is structured, accessible, 100% accurate and reliable. To get that, Apple will need:
- lot more collaboration and effort from venue owners than simply uploading their floor plans; or
- a huge amount of mapping team resources to go do all this work themselves.
And this is not an Enterprise Solution
So Apple's move - and Google's to follow - are great news for Indoor LBS. They will influence Enterprise CEO's and CTO's to move more quickly in making indoor positioning available in their own facilities.
At the same time, it is also important to understand that this is not an Enterprise solution. Approaches such as this - whether handset sensor fusion, BLE Beacons or otherwise - solve the problem of the end user: i.e. where am I now?
That is fantastic for applications like MediNav Navigator Edition - we will now be able to bring a "blue dot" experience to our clients with much less effort and planning over deploying an infrastructure solution. And providing high quality location-enhanced Wayfinding to patients, visitors and staff is an enormous step forward.
But the smartphone-based approach does not and cannot address other Enterprise needs such as:
tracking and reporting where every ;device that has RF is (BLE, WiFi, whatever) - not just addressing individual end user needs;
- maintaining network security against rogue devices - a huge issue in a BYOD world;
- providing real-time and historic visibility and analytics across all devices.
For this, in our view Cisco MSE / CMX will still be uniquely able to provide the comprehensive solution that Enterprise's require.
The Path Forward Is Getting a Lot Easier
For our clients - and any Enterprise looking at Indoor LBS - the path forward is getting a lot easier. Even if Google does not respond at I/O, there are already several "pretty good" handset sensor fusions positioning solutions available for Android (i.e. no BLE Beacons required).
- Start now with handset based solutions that support the end-user need for location enhanced Wayfinding.
- Consider BLE Beacons as an enhancement option for even greater positioning accuracy and reliability.
- Move forward with Cisco CMX on a long term infrastructure to provide robust, Enterprise-wide, comprehensive device positioning for the broader applications and benefits of Indoor LBS.
For a demo of MediNav and consultation on the best approach to Indoor Positioning and LBS for your facilities, please contact us.