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A quick glance at indoor location

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By Tom Harries

Today we use our mobile devices for pretty much everything. They can provide us with many services that make our lives easier and less stressful. Through the development of GPS, we have been using our devices to offer location-based services, which aid in our travel and limit our chances of becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings. A Google map for example not only offers us help with directions but also has become a great business tool for making users aware of your location. Through tools such as the Google Places API, businesses have been able to further promote themselves by making people more aware of their location. Users are able to search for local businesses e.g. a restaurant and have them listed in front of them, with directions and reviews provided.

The next step in location-based services is to bring their usefulness inside buildings. Apple and Google are in the process of developing mapping applications that are capable of providing indoor positioning that could be used within a public place such as a shopping mall or an airport. A French-based company, Pole Star, have been developing this technology since 2002. They have developed responsive indoor positioning that can function within a shopping mall. The idea behind these developments is to offer shoppers promotional material when they are within a shopping mall or High Street. This could be utilised as a lucrative marketing tool, discounts and promotions are sent straight to consumers’ devices, which could draw them into shops they might otherwise walk past.

With the addition of iOS 7, Apple has added iBeacon to their location-based services. iBeacon extends location services to alert apps when the user leaves or enters a new location. This utilises Bluetooth Low Energy technology, which has also been added to Android. The basic technology for indoor location has been around for a while but with this technology, businesses should be able to wake up apps in order to alert the user when they are close to a shop. This tool could also be utilised in other locations such as an airport, to help people find their gate.

The next step will be motivating users to take advantage of the opportunities this technology can give them. Innovative Apps need to be developed that can provide the essential user experience in order to maximise the success of these tools.


1 Apple. (2013). iOS: Understanding iBeacon. Available:

2 GIS CONTRIBUTOR. (2013). Opinion piece: How Micro-Location, Geofencing and Indoor Location Are Driving The Retail Revolution.Available:

3 Pole Star. (2013). Indoor/outdoor positioning solutions. Available:

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