The performance of our mobile phones inside buildings has always been a problem: dropped signals, inaccurate positioning, and increased battery drain. The In-Location Alliance is aiming to change all of that. Founded by companies like Nokia, Samsung, Sony Mobile, and Qualcomm (there are 22 in all), the alliance intends to develop solutions which offer high accuracy positioning and reduced power consumption for mobile devices when they are indoors. They want to drive innovation in this space and encourage market adoption.
Accurate indoor positioning would create the potential for real-time navigation in a building. It could also allow you to locate a specific person or product. It could even be used to assist in emergency situations, helping people find fire extinguishers or exits. There are a lot of potential applications.
The primary solutions in development seem to rely on Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. The alliance is planning to roll out pre-commercial pilots this year and we might see some systems in place by 2013. The plan is to establish an industry standard for technologies that can bring us accurate indoor location-based services and to that end, another of the members, Broadcom, has developed a new chip.
Google already rolled out some indoor mapping in Google Maps 6.0 back at the end of last year. Apple and Microsoft are also said to be working on indoor mapping solutions. From our vantage point, it looks like the indoor mapping market could be one of the next big battlefields in mobile.