Indooratlas, the Oulu, Finland-based indoor positioning startup, announces it has commercially released its magnetic indoor positioning technology at New York's Adweek. To monetize their technology, they're bringing their solution to big box grocery stores and retailers to help customers find specific items in a store, at an accuracy level of 10 feet or less.
There are competing products on the market that can do similar indoor positioning for smartphones, but they don't have IndoorAtlas' ease of setup, nor is their technology as cool. Their competitors require wifi or bluetooth beacons set up throughout the store to provide triangulating signals for accurate positioning, while IndoorAtlas uses the built-in magnetometers in smartphones, which are sensitive enough to pick up the variations in the magnetic field caused by all rebar and steel I-beams that make up modern warehouse shopping centers.
It sounds like a crazy concept, but it mimics nature. Take, for example, the fact that carrier pigeons can sense their true position on earth thanks to the information they get from the Earth's magnetic field. Indoor Atlas does the same, but on a much smaller scale, using technology spun off from research by the University of Oulu.
“IndoorAtlas is enabling the holy grail of location-based advertising. Its indoor positioning accuracy is exactly what the retail industry has been waiting for, for a very long time. Combined with the ensuing capital savings, the possibilities presented in the area of targeted advertising are significant,” commented Asif Khan, president of the Location Based Marketing Association.
The company's technology could be activated by a touchscreen on shopping carts, or by a users' own smartphone. They offer a free basic API for developers to build their own apps, but as mentioned before, IndoorAtlas is commercializing through a product search solution customers can use to find a specific item, and wayfinding through the store, to find out how to get to the item.
In addition they're also exploring product proximity advertising as an opt-in feature for their commercial customers, which can pop up related deals on items whenever IndoorAtlas recognizes they're next to the 'buy one get one free' orange juice, for example.
IndoorAtlas ran a pilot with the Finnish supermarket chain, Prisma, earlier this year, including the proximity advertising feature. They reported a 10% increase in sales revenue, which, given IndoorAtlas' lower infrastructure cost, seems like a straightforward deal to larger shopping centers.
“We are set to disrupt the retail market by finally bridging the gap between mobile and in-store experiences,” says Professor Janne Haverinen, PhD, CEO, IndoorAtlas. “Consumers are always looking for that personalized, in-the-moment shopping experience. Businesses, as such, seek the quintessential technology that can successfully converge mobile advertising with indoor positioning. They will be amazed at what this technology can do to drive engagement and increase sales.”
To see how the product works in real life, check out this clip on San Francisco's ABC 7