TheMarker: Lost in the Mall? Israeli Startups Have an App for You
As Published by TheMarker/Haaretz on December 26, 2019:
Full Hebrew version: https://www.themarker.com/technation/.premium-1.8316358
English version: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-lost-in-the-mall-israeli-startups-have-an-app-for-you-1.8320075
Tech obstacles have frustrated the rise of indoor navigation apps, but a handful of companies have some novel solutions.
Six years ago, it seems as if the market for navigation apps inside buildings would be the next big thing for the world’s high-tech industry, When we’re outside, we can find our way around through GPS applications, so it made sense that the next advance would be apps for inside a shopping mall or airport terminal.
In practice, it didn’t happen. Even though the world’s technology giants as well as countless startups invested a lot of resources in solving the problem, most people still use plain old-fashioned signs or ask direction from passersby – and often end up getting lost. The technology simply didn’t gain momentum because of technology obstacles and the absence of an attractive business model.
Indoor navigation and indoor positioning systems have been a goal for more than a decade, and it’s easy to understand why. Much of modern life occurs in giant structures often unfamiliar to the people in them – not just airports, but hospitals, parking garages, Walmart Supercenters and office complexes.
An app should be able to guide someone from the moment he enters the hospital’s parking garage up until he or she arrives at the door of the doctor’s office. In a department store or supermarket, they could guide a shopper to the shelf where the product he or she wants is waiting, without the help of store clerks.
Outdoor navigation apps make use of GPS, a satellite link that is available to everyone. But inside a building there’s no satellite reception; another technology has to take its place.
One that is doing just that is Oriient, which was formed three years ago and this year raised $4 million in capital. The Tel Aviv-based company has develop technology using the earth’s magnetic field. Or Shin Shinhertz, its head of business strategy and operations, said the technology is both precise and requires no physical infrastructure.
Oriient’s technology makes use of the unique distortion of earth’s magnetic field created by a building and leverages the sensors that exist inside most smartphones to identify and record these magnetic landscapes. That enables it to create a map of a location as the smartphone moves around and locates other smartphones. It’s precise to a meter, which would make it accurate enough to be used in supermarkets.
“The chains realize that when a customer can’t find a product, he gets frustrated and leaves,” said Shinhertz. “They’re looking for solutions that can tell shoppers exactly which shelf has what they’re looking for.”
To learn more about Oriient’s hardware-free, geomagnetic solution for highly accurate indoor positioning, click here.