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Inside app uses your phone's sensors for indoor navigation

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February 4, 2014

The Inside app doesn't require the installation of any hardware in the building

The Inside app doesn't require the installation of any hardware in the building

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Due to those pesky roofs that block access to satellites, smartphone-based GPS systems don't work for navigating indoor environments such as shopping malls. Some non-GPS alternatives are in development, including ones that incorporate rapidly-blinking LED lights or Wi-Fi signals. The just-announced Inside app, however, utilizes the phone's own standard sensors, and is reportedly accurate up to a distance of down to one meter (3.3 ft).

Developed by Israeli start-up Shopcloud, Inside starts by accessing the internet upon entering a building, and accessing a floor plan – this means that buildings offering the system would first have to supply that plan to Shopcloud, plus a team would have to come through to gather spatial data.

Once the information has been downloaded by the user, continued internet access isn't necessary.

Inside utilizes the phone's own standard sensors, and is reportedly accurate up to a dista...

The phone uses its camera to spot unique visual landmarks, processing the images using computer vision algorithms to keep track of the user's approximate location. The accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer also kick in to track the user's more precise movement through space, and actually "learn" the one-of-a-kind movement signature of that person – apparently, if the phone is handed to someone else, the app will know that it's not the same person.

So far, the basic idea is somewhat similar to those employed by systems such as Smartsense, UnLoc and NAVVIS. Inside also utilizes four other processes, however, which the company is keeping under wraps for now. "We thought about how humans naturally navigate, and tried to imitate that," company co-founder Michael Bar Zeev explained to us.

The app currently works on iPhone models 4S and up, and Android phones with minimum specs similar to those of the Samsung Galaxy S3. A Windows version is also in the works.

According to CEO Gil Devora, beta testing is scheduled to begin in Israel at the end of the month, in 10 public spaces. Approximately 200 locations in the US are currently being mapped, for the official launch in a couple of months. The app should then be available free of charge, to both end users and venues.

Source: Inside

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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2 Comments

Not sure what would differentiate this app from "Point Inside". I've had it for several years, it has a thorough database of structures and stores, and it's on iOS (I don't know about Android).

Recommended for those times you really just want to get where you absolutely get where you need to go in a mall and get back out as quickly as possible. After all, who doesn't want to spend as little time as possible in the mall except the miscreants who have ruined the experience for most everyone else?

Vince Pack
4th February, 2014 @ 01:33 pm PST

"The accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer also kick in to track the user's more precise movement through space, and actually "learn" the one-of-a-kind movement signature of that person – apparently, if the phone is handed to someone else, the app will know that it's not the same person."

Store those "one-of-a-kind" movements, together with date and time information in on-board memory, and it would not take long to build up a profile of each of us, especially if that data gathering operated even when it was supposedly switched off.

When that happened, there would be no such thing as an anonymous phone call. Still, it's not all bad. Such a situation would put a massive dent in the insider trading practices that so corrupt bank business today. Also, it would be possible to trace the sequence of 'ownerships' of any 'phone that had been stolen at some time in the past and thus identify not only the thief, but also how many 'phones they had stolen and who had 'bought' the 'phones off them.

Mel Tisdale
5th February, 2014 @ 12:33 pm PST
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