Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Precision Indoor Personnel Location & Tracking Annual Technology Workshop

August 6-7, 2012

Sponsored by Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate 


This Workshop provides a forum for researchers and developers working in the important area of indoor location and tracking to share technical knowledge and to define the state of the art. The focus of this workshop is on any-time, anywhere tracking of critical personnel (such as emergency responders), with extension to the breadth of commercial uses that will arise from the maturation of this technology. Further, the focus is on systems that provide complete tracking and position information on all equipped personnel. This year's workshop will also include consideration of the applicability of commercial location-aware systems to the needs of the first responder community. The important topic of standards development for location and tracking systems will also be addressed, as will integration with other sensor technologies that benefit from location awareness.

Download the agenda here:  WPI Workshop Agenda Draft

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Consumers More Comfortable with Stores Using Location Data

According to a recent study by PlaceCast, a location-based marketing firm, U.S. adults trust their grocery store with their personal information more than they do Facebook, Google, and Amazon, or even their cellphone provider.

Also recently, Facebook and Wal-Mart met to help and support each other with testing new and innovative products and technologies to reach Wal-Mart customers, specifically the 17 million fans on Wal-Mart's Facebook page. Expanding its reach online is key for Wal-Mart as shoppers increasingly shop on their mobiles. Both Facebook and Wal-Mart may want to pay attention to this study.

Specifically, the study shows:
  • 81% of consumers were comfortable with  stores using info about past purchases to give them coupons tailored to their shopping needs. 
  • Only 33% of respondents were comfortable with Facebook using profile information to target ads. 
  • 50% of US adults age 18-34 say they are comfortable with their location being used to send them offers for nearby stores. 
  • 27% of respondents aged 55 and over were comfortable receiving ads based on their location.
All this implies that consumers are more comfortable using retail and shopping apps from the stores that they go to and 50% of these consumers would not mind being located indoors to get offers, etc. See some of these indoor navigation shopping apps here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Smartphones and Retail - Go Mobile, Now!

A recent Deloitte study (click here to download the pdf) shows that smartphones currently influence 5% of annual retail store sales, translating into $159 billion in forecasted sales for 2012 and will grow to represent 19% of total store sales by 2016, amounting to $689 billion in mobile-influenced sales. By comparison, direct mobile commerce sales will pass the $30 billion mark by that time, according to Forrester. In addition, the study shows:
  • 48% of all U.S. consumers already own a smartphone, and that number is rising fast.
  • 58% of consumers who own a smartphone have used it for store-related shopping. 
  • 50% percent of smartphone users say their phones have influenced their decision to purchase an item in a store, mainly happening at or near the point of purchase. 
  • 37% of smartphone users who used a smartphone on their last shopping trip utilized a third-party mobile shopping application (i.e., Amazon Price Check, Google Shopper, ShopSavvy) and 34% used a retailer’s mobile application (i.e., Walgreens, Home Depot) 
  • Once consumers start using their smartphones for shopping they tend to use them a lot — typically for 50-60% of their store shopping trips 
This means that mobile is an important tool for retailers to incrementally drive traditional in-store sales, strengthening the relationship between retailer and consumer to increase engagement and loyalty. Moreover, competitors like Amazon are exploiting this trend with their mobile apps (e.g., Amazon Price Check app) to invade the retail stores and drive the customers away. 

Below we show what indoor location solutions retailers can deploy to take proactive actions to reduce the outside threat and start using mobile to their advantage: 

aisle411 can help retain control of the customer experience and proactively support what info consumers have access to at each stage of the shopping process, i.e., recipes, product search, aisle-level indoor maps to show where product is inside the store. Walgreens and others are already using this solution. 

ShopKick gives users rewards and offers simply for walking into stores. ShopKick's indoor location technology is very accurate, able to determine if the user is inside the store. Target, Macy's, Best Buy, Crate Barrel, Old Navy, Toys"R"Us, Exxon and Mobil convenience stores are already using this solution.

The team behind Euclid are the folks brought Google Analytics. Euclid offers location based analytics to brick and mortar retailers. Retailers get better insights into customer loyalty, i.e. what percent of customers come back to the store versus new customers. This may be particularly interesting to look at after running a Groupon deal.

For more details on the above solutions and others, see our Market Report here. Go mobile and help insulate your customers from outside influences and boost in-store conversion rates now!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Battle of the Indoor Maps

The battle of the indoor maps is heating up.  aisle411 just announced the launch of additional 7900 indoor maps for retail stores, brining their total to 9,000 in the US. We wrote about Google now having 10,000 indoor maps available, however, this number is for worldwide and only 200 specific venues are confirmed being available now to Google Maps Android users.  Also, we wrote about Microsoft Bing Maps now having 2,700 indoor maps, worldwide.

The industry is still fragmented and works in silos, except for Microsoft and Nokia where Nokia is providing its Destination Maps to Microsoft Bing Maps. Also, some consolidation or aggregation is expected to take place as only some of the players are specializing in particular verticals (i.e. Retail, Museums). Below is our take on the number of indoor maps each company has, including Google, Nokia, aisle411, Micello, and Point Inside. Retail maps are for venues such as Walgreens,  Home Depot, and similar. 
In more detail, Nokia (Navteq) has made its indoor maps available in 2011, which now cover 38 countries. Nokia has released the the infographic below, showing that the majority of those locations are in North America, followed by EMEA. Nokia also shows that people spend 87% of their time indoors. We agree and wrote about this back in 2010. In addition to malls and airports, Nokia is also mapping out stadiums and amusement parks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Samsung to Acquire CSR for its Indoor GPS technology

For some time now, CSR (SiRF division) has been working on the next breakthrough, indoor GPS location technology. GPS alone is not adequate indoors. There have been a number of attempts to achieve this with varying success. CSR has developed a hybrid solution for Indoor Location that will be capable of working on any device with its chipset.

Essentially this comprises hardware and software. The hardware is the SiRFStarV chipset, and the software is SiRFusion. The SiRFStarV architecture has been designed to 'sniff' a number of different radio signals from WiFi to Bluetooth, Cell to GPS, incorporating all the different flavours of GPS: NAVSTAR, GLONASS, Galileo, etc. Not only does it detect radio signals but it also has integrated movement sensors. These take over when the traditional radio signals are weak or non-existent. One of the sensors is a pressure sensor, which is so accurate it is able to determine the floor that you are on in a multi story shopping mall. SiRFusion is a software component that allows the various radio signals and sensors to amalgamated, prioritised and fed into a backend server that is able to consolidate all the data and provide a very accurate location either indoors or outside. This software is able to provide realistic locations and discard any invalid data. The self-learning location platform “fuses” location information from multiple technologies to make extremely reliable and accurate indoor location and navigation a reality. The whole package has been designed with mobile in mind paying particular attention to the limitations of power and size.

On the patent front, CSR will transfer 21 U.S. patents to Samsung.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Google Maps to Reach 10,000 Indoor Maps Venues Worldwide

Google Maps will reach 10,000 indoor maps for venues around the world, including airports, malls, museums, and casinos. It even inlcudes retail stores like Ikea, Home Depot, Macy's and others at "various locations." Google is now directly competing with everyone from Nokia/Navteq, to Point Inside and aisle411.  The question remains how many Retail stores Google will be able to capture, since we believe Google will have a hard time in Retail unless it changes its approach.

Monday, July 9, 2012

IndoorLBS Market Report - 130 Companies Investing in Indoor Location Services

There are at least 130 companies today working on indoor location, venue maps, indoor tracking, and indoor navigation. These are covered in this IndoorLBS report. The growth of this market has been impressive over the last 10 years and indoor location become “main stream” when Google entered this market with venue maps and indoor location.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Amazon developing Android Smartphone; Will it use Skyhook Location Positioning Service?

The handset will be based on the Android operating system, however, it will not be controlled by Google — similar to Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Just like with the Kindle Fire, Amazon is making their own version of an Android phone. This means no Google apps like Google Maps, as well as no Google's services, like its WiFi and Cell triangulation location positioning services. Because Android is open source, Amazon can take the Android code and use it however they please. We think Skyhook is a likely solution for the location positioning service.  Skyhook is already enabling several LBS apps on the Fire tablet including MapQuest, HopStop, Kayak, etc. Skyhook is not native on the device, however, we think with the Amazon smartphone, and next generation of Kindle Fire tablets, Skyhook will be natively embedded on the device.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Google to Extend Indoor Maps and Indoor Location to Europe

Google Maps users in the UK, on Android devices, will get about forty venues at launch including transit stations, malls, airports. However, major airports like Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow are not included, perhaps due to privacy / security reasons? Google has also partnered with museums. In addition, Google has partnered with retail such as well known London department stores Harrods and Peter Jones; the question is, did these retail stores just sold their soul to Google by giving away their maps and data business intelligence and customers to Google? Or, is Google sharing data analytics and advertising revenue?

As we reported in 2011, Google launched indoor maps and indoor location in the United States and Japan with 60 locations in the U.S. and about 50 Japan. Check our report for the specific venues. To accelerate its indoor mapping efforts, Google is inviting business owners to upload a floor plan into the Google Map Service to add their venue in the list. A special Android app has been developed for business owners to help them calibrate the map against Google indoor geo-location technologie based on Wi-Fi signal triangulation.