Geo Week News

November 11, 2015

Apple's New App does Indoor Positioning without GPS

Apple Indoor Survey

When we map indoors, there is one really big problem: no GPS, which we need to locate the space we’re mapping on the Earth. According to Apple Insider, tech giant Apple seems to have solved this indoor positioning problem, at least for its iOS devices.

Their new app is called Indoor Survey, and it works using radio frequency signals and the iPhone’s onboard sensors.

Here’s the app’s description:
“By dropping ‘points’ on a map within the Survey App, you indicate your position within the venue as you walk through. As you do so, the indoor Survey App measures the radio frequency (RF) signal data and combines it with an iPhone’s sensor data. The end result is indoor positioning without the need to install special hardware.”

The tech is very similar to a technology pioneered by WiFISLAM, acquired by Apple back in 2013.

If they are using that technology, which has been called “indoor GPS,” it’s clear that Apple has set their sights on more than just consumer applications. Apple Insider seems to think so, too, as they argue that

“Apple is quietly building out an indoor mapping solution for iOS, as evidenced by assets in the company’s Core Location developer tools. On its Maps for Developers webpage, for example, Apple offers sample code called Footprint, which demonstrates how to convert between a geographic coordinate system (latitude/longitude) to a flat floorplan and MapKit.”

This news, coupled with the 3D sensing hardware technology that Apple acquired with their purchase of PrimeSense in 2013, hints that Apple may be looking to edge in on the indoor mapping territory of Google’s Project Tango.

The one catch for Apple’s new app? Apparently you need a special, registered account to use the software. Which means basically you won’t be using it anytime soon, unless you know what a registered account is.

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