One of the benefits of online shopping is that you can easily locate the item for which you are searching without having to wonder aimlessly up and down the aisles of your nearest store. About two dozen tech firms, however, are hoping to make the process of shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores less frustrating via a coalition that will develop technologies to boost in-store location tracking.
Among the 22 firms that have signed on for the In-Location Alliance are Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Sony Mobile.
"The alliance will be working together on the innovation and promotion of a new standard-based short-range wireless technology that will make it possible to locate objects or positions indoors with extremely high accuracy using mobile devices," Nokia said in a blog post.
Key criteria for indoor positioning technology are high accuracy, low power consumption, mobility, and low cost, Nokia said. The solution also has to be easy to implement and use, and will be based on enhanced Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy technology and Wi-Fi standards.
"The aim of the In-Location Alliance is to act as a pioneer opening up new business streams for indoor environments," an Alliance press release said. "Indoor positioning is the next frontier of mobile services, offering great opportunities to enhance consumer experiences."
The Alliance's founding partners are a team of companies representing different roles, including chipset vendors, mobile operators, handset manufacturers, application developers, and technology vendors.
"We are building an eco-system for companies to bring the indoor positioning solution to every building in the world," Nokia's Jukka Rantala said in a statement. "Therefore we need to have companies who are representing different roles in the value chain."
Through accurate indoor positioning, the Alliance expects to create a solid technical base for anyone to build upon, Sony said in a statement. If the technology is achieved, consumers could receive directions to personalised in-store product promotions, get real-time navigation in a museum or other public places, or get the precise location of patients or doctors in hospitals, Sony said.
Nokia has already built the High Accuracy Indoor Positioning (HAIP) Solution technology that it expects to be worked into Alliance proposals. Through antenna elements installed in ceilings or other spots, HAIP receives a wireless signal from a component installed in a mobile device or attached externally to any asset, and provides accuracy within one metre.
"HAIP could become a reality much sooner than expected," Nokia's Boc Ly said on the blog, pointing to the Alliance's work to evaluate new business opportunities based on indoor positioning technology.
"What makes it exciting is that so many different use cases are still being explored, and many of which are yet to be thought of," Ly said. "This could be the strength of the alliance: to make it happen quicker and to make it happen in many ecosystems."