GPS technology and the increasing ubiquity of smartphones has given rise to a plethora of mapping and other location-based services that work relatively well outside. But indoor positioning can still be very hit and miss. Hoping to solve this problem is indoo.rs, a startup that has developed indoor location and navigation technology to let developers build apps and services that are able to position people inside buildings, such as airports, shopping malls, and other indoor spaces. It also plans to license its IP to chipset/handset manufacturers to enable them to build indoor positioning support into their hardware in a power and speed efficient way.
Today, the Vienna, Austria-headquartered company is announcing a “significant 6 figure” seed round from Austrian funds Tecnet Equity, and SpeedInvest, with participation from “strategic investor” Techinvest. Until now, its tech has largely been deployed for evaluations, pilots, field trials, and to serve as the basis for early licensing discussions, which are said to be ongoing. With the injection of capital, we can expect to see a push towards commercial contracts and uptake by developers, as well as a larger presence in the U.S. where indoo.rs already has a Santa Cruz office.
Founded in 2010 by Bernd Gruber (CEO) and Markus Krainz (CTO) straight out of university, indoo.rs aims to build and sell “best-of-breed” technology for indoor positioning and navigation which can scale and be “used by anyone, anywhere and on any device”. Its mobile technology combines available signals from a handset’s sensors (including accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and compass) with ambient electromagnetic signals such as Wi-Fi, geomagnetic fields and Bluetooth. The platform supports the creation and “scalable management” of indoor maps, too.
The indoo.rs R&D team claims “deep expertise” in the areas of RF engineering, DSP programming, sensor fusion and “complex computational methods” – the recipe of skills needed to solve the indoor positioning problem, says the company. A fun fact: one of its lead engineers joined indoo.rs having left CERN after helping to find the Higgs Boson, apparently!
The longer term bet that the company is making is that indoor location availability will become ubiquitous on mobile devices (which seems a pretty safe bet to me). However, with user experience key in terms of speed, accuracy, and power efficiency, indoo.rs believes that mass adoption will require the technology on the client side to ultimately be embedded on silicon/SOCs — hence it’s targeting chipmakers/handset manufacturers, alongside app developers who can help push the use-cases for indoor positioning.
To that end, the company counts its competitors as the internal R&D organizations of the likes of Samsung, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Microsoft and Google (in the 800 lb gorilla category, at least), in addition to companies such as Skyhook, Pointinside, Wifislam, Pole Star, and SenseWhere. However, it’s not hard to imagine indoo.rs licensing its tech to either group, not least the former. Or, should the technology really find its position in the market, dare I say being acquired.