When people think about GPS tracking, most of the ideas that come to mind are usually businesses involving the tracking of trucks and service vehicles or preventing costly construction equipment from being stolen. In fact, most of the industries that use GPS tracking are focused on businesses operating outdoors such as telecommunications, agriculture, and security establishments. However, that’s leaving out all the possibilities of providing GPS services indoors.
For several years now, GPS technology has made it possible to track vehicles outdoors and help drivers navigate from their current location to another address. Now the technology is advancing to the next level of creative business applications. This next evolution in GPS tracking businesses will serve to help businesses track objects and navigate indoors. This technology will help visitors navigate huge conference centers; medical staff navigate to emergencies through the winding corridors of hospitals; and workers find equipment, tools, and inventory stored in large warehouses.
Big companies are already starting to look for ways to capitalize on the possible applications of indoor location tracking. This can be seen in Apple’s purchase of indoor location company WiFiSLAM earlier this year. Google is also getting in on the game by making deals with some airports and museums to make indoor, street-view-styled maps.
However, the opportunities for indoor tracking are not limited to big tech companies. There are also companies like Meridian who are making it easier to add indoor navigation features to consumer apps. And there are many other innovative opportunities for smaller service businesses to operate in this blossoming industry. As location-aware mobile devices become more common, there will emerge many new ways to use indoor location tracking. Businesses will be looking for service companies that can service and support their indoor tracking needs.
Currently, indoor mapping data is still less common and less publicly available. However, with OpenLayers integration, the schematics of any building could soon be laid over Google Maps to provide a way to visualize and track objects inside a building.
The devices currently used to track objects inside a building are usually arranged in a network so that they can locate and track the position of an object without relying on satellites. This makes it hard to communicate with the GPS tracking devices inside the building. Also, GPS has a hard time distinguishing elevation, which makes it hard for a traditional tracking device to indicate what floor it is on in the building.
Instead, indoor position systems (IPS) rely on a network of nodes with known positions within the building to find their location. The nodes then actively track the IPS to give it the environmental context needed to determine location. Rather than relying on satellites, IPS uses other technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth. For example, WiFiSLAM locates devices indoors by triangulating a device within a network of WiFi or Bluetooth enabled nodes.