‘Indoor Location will be a Ubiquitous Enabler for Next-Gen Applications’

‘Indoor Location will be a Ubiquitous Enabler for Next-Gen Applications’

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Jouni Kamarainen
Jouni Kamarainen
Chairman, In-Location Alliance, (ILA)

Indoor positioning benefits will span all the industries, from health care to manufacturing, tourism to rescue services. Jouni Kamarainen, Chairman, In-Location Alliance (ILA) — an ecosystem of industry players to stimulate innovation in indoor location space and accelerate market adoption — believes the potential market is huge

What are the major trends that you see in the indoor mapping and navigation market?
In a few years the ability to locate people and objects indoor will be a ubiquitous enabler for a new generation of context-based applications. Consumers will be able to navigate seamlessly indoors and outdoors. They will come to expect hyper local content and will enjoy the benefits across all aspects of their life from the simplification of tracking their personal belongings, to truly global navigation, to personalised services.

Indoor positioning benefits will span all the industries, from health care to manufacturing, tourism to rescue services. Facility owners and local service providers will gain the ability to establish more effective relations with their visitors. Shopping malls, for example, will increase the knowledge of their customers. Companies will be able to track assets and monitor workflow more effectively.

What were the critical reasons for establishing In-Location Alliance (ILA)?
We founded the In-Location Alliance (ILA) to accelerate the adoption of indoor positioning solutions that will open up new opportunities for consumers and venue owners. Our focus is both to promote open interfaces and standards-based approach, will ensure interoperability, and to work with member companies to pilot the most promising services and use cases from a business and solution point of view.

The ILA has four different work groups established, can you briefly share the role of each and which members would be part of each working committee?
The work of the ILA is driven mainly by the participation of member companies in the work groups. The system architecture is developing an open, technology-agnostic architecture for accurate mobile location for different types of venues. This architecture has been described in the recent white paper. The Pilot group works with member companies to drive pilots to verify the technical and commercial aspects of indoor positioning solutions. Promotion is responsible for the external ILA relations and offers member opportunities to expand marketing reach. The Use Case group is identifying indoor positioning use cases via member contributions and using these to drive requirements to the system architecture and to analyse their business impacts. Any member company can join the working groups, but only charter and contributor members may vote.

Although indoor location mapping and navigation is still at a nascent stage, several leading companies are trying to master it and gain a first mover advantage. Which are few of the recent developments in this field that has caught your attention?
I believe that only by cooperation across OS vendors, application vendors and infrastructure vendors can we ensure that the indoor positioning market will succeed. We have members across all parties of the value chain and welcome all companies who want to collaborate to build the indoor positioning market.

In March this year, ILA announced that it will work with standard development organisations (SDOs) to develop standards and work towards interoperable solutions. What has been the progress so far?
The ILA has just recently announced the publication of the group’s System Architecture White Paper version 1.0, which is our first external release. The white paper defines a technology-independent architecture for indoor positioning that ensures support for use cases identified as critical for commercial success and lays the foundation for interoperability among vendor contributions. We will use this architecture as a basis for the collaboration with SDOs to create open interface specifications for the remaining interfaces.

The market is flooded with technologies which claim to have gained an “edge in accuracy”. What is your take on the proprietary versus open source solutions? Or are we still searching for the right “hybrid” solution?
We believe that open standards are the basis for a truly successful ecosystem and that many different technologies will have a role in supporting the broad range of use cases. Open standards can still form the basis for successful proprietary solutions, and also successful proprietary technologies often drive future standardisation. Hybrid solutions in particular will depend on interoperability. Our System Architecture White Paper describes a technology independent architecture that supports a wide range of use cases.

Micro-level accuracy and orientation of the user (the direction he is facing) is still to be perfected. What have been the challenges in correcting this?
The accuracy of the solutions is dependent on the underlying technology rather than the system architecture and is therefore not something we can influence strongly. Improvements to the accuracy are therefore in the hands of the companies implementing the technology, and we know from our members that this continues to be an area that they are focussing on. We expect that delivering the best end user experience is one of the areas for differentiation between different implementation that companies will compete on.

What are the major challenges that you foresee with several players fighting for the same market?
I think the potential market for indoor positioning is large enough to accommodate all players and would encourage all companies to work with us to deliver the interoperability that will underpin success. The ILA is supporting a broad ecosystem of companies to help grow the market for everyone.