The rough guesses of the GPS on your phone may be getting out of style while our brave new world of down-to-the-meter indoor positioning kicks off. But while we’re waiting patiently in the west it looks like this revolution is starting in Asia first. On top of a deal with chinese search giant Baidu, Oulu-founded IndoorAtlas announces today that they’ve signed a $3 million business partnership with South Korea’s SK Planet to target the “global O2O (online 2 offline) e-commerce market”, and joins as a strategic investor.
SK Planet is plugging IndoorAtlas into the broader platform around their mobile wallet, Syrup, which stores cards and allows purchases using gift vouchers, Giftcion and coupons. This indoor positioning features will specifically be added to Syrup Guide, a shopping mall service to be launched next year.
Your phone’s GPS is notoriously unreliable indoors, where roofs block satellite signals and walls bounce around WiFi signals that help with positioning. A number of startups have tried to solve indoor positioning using beacons – transmitters placed throughout a building to help accurately triangulate your position. But on top of those setup costs it requires mall owners to be onboard with placing beacons throughout their mall.
In comparison, Finland’s IndoorAtlas uses your phone’s compass to detect small changes in the magnetic signature of the building you’re in, and therefore only needs to be mapped, rather than having beacons installed, letting a player like SK Planet get into malls without having to sign hardware deals.
Moving forward, SK Planet’s business partnership and investment includes right to IndoorAtlas platform in the Korean market, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.
“Indoor positioning will produce new value added to people’s lives as most people spend the majority of their days indoor,” said Sungwon Suh, COO at SK Planet in a statment. “Indoor positioning will be applied as the infrastructure technology of our current O2O service offerings and we will be able to offer enhanced shopping services for our customers,” he added.