Software-only indoor positioning system.
The introduction of the Global Positioning System to the general public led to an explosion of products and services built upon the technology and has disrupted entire industries. We have built our lives around it. Entire generations have grown up not knowing how to navigate using map and compass and are better off for it. However, entering a building means we lose this magical ability and are back again stuck in a pre-GPS world where way-finding is predicated on how good you are in following signs and remembering directions… Like an animal… The proptech businesses we’ll discuss here are trying to change this and be as foundational for indoor positioning as GPS was for outdoor positioning.
Oriient offers a technology that can realize indoor positioning with up to 1-meter accuracy without any location-bound hardware requirements. The technology used is called geomagnetic positioning. It uses magnetic field anomalies and maps them to a certain location in the building. The mapping of the anomalies on a plan needs to happen just once and can be done with a regular smartphone. When a visitor visits your venue its smartphone sensor data can pinpoint its location on the magnetic map.
imagery courtesy Oriient
Oriient offers these capabilities via an SDK (editor’s note: Software Development Kit) or a white label app and makes the resulting data available for third parties via API.
In addition to acting as a technology provider, Oriient also builds its own solutions. Right now they provide an indoor way-finding application including route planning, location-based actions, and comprehensive monitoring and analytics.
Indoor positioning is already accepted as an added value in manufacturing and warehousing, but the cost of deploying traditional indoor positioning systems like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Ultra Wideband technologies is inhibiting adoption in other sectors. Removing the need for specific hardware and installation lowers the investment costs dramatically and possibly allows for the technology to become popular enough to trigger a flurry of innovation on top of the technology similar to what happened with GPS 30 years ago.
👎 Why not?
But in contrast to GPS, it will be harder for indoor positioning systems to achieve critical mass or the network-effect necessary to become an attractive target for third parties to target. That’s why the first-party apps they provide need to be appealing enough.
Another caveat is that magnetic field anomalies can change over time eg. by moving metal objects. Smart algorithms already account for this type of shifts, and the map is updated based on the changes detected by every user visiting your location.
Oriient was founded in 2016 in Tel Aviv by Amiram Frish and Mickey Balter. They’ve since raised over $4 million of funding and boasts partnerships with mapspeople and visioglobe.
In 2019 they Won and EXPO REAL Innovation Award and in 2020 were a finalist in the IIC smart buildings challenge together with Cubilizer.
🕵️♀️ Who else?
There are other companies offering geomagnetic based indoor positioning tools:
Gipstech offers infrastructure-free navigation tools. Its Sensor fusion solution combines geomagnetic fingerprinting with different indoor positioning techniques using BLE, Wi-fi or even cameras, making it possible to reuse existing infrastructure for more comprehensive realibility and precission.
IndoorAtlas is another indoor positioning solution provider combining magnetic fields together with BLE and Wi-fi. It’s offering is definitely aimed at software developers and acts as the underlying technology for software products in retail, healthcare and transportation.
📚 Further reading?
Article from CBRE on the use of indoor GPS for facility management
Oriient blog post on indoor GPS usage
✨ Things happening
The easiest way to keep housing affordable, is to 👏 build 👏 more 👏 houses, and this Bloomberg CityLab article thinks hyperlocal zoning might be a way to do it… New investment news from Fifth Wall… The proptech SPAC landscape is getting boinkers…