What is Apple’s Indoor Positioning System and Work?

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It is often difficult to find your favorite coffee shop in an airport, or your trusted brand at a newly constructed mall. In such a scenario, Indoor Positioning System (IPS), or simply indoor mapping, comes in handy, providing directions to your desired location inside a building. Many companies are coming up with the Indoor Location Technology and revolutionizing the location service industry market.

Apple, an American multinational technology company, has launched a whole new feature for indoor navigation services. Apple’s indoor mapping service is available in 279 major cities around the world, mainly in United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Australia. For mapping buildings from inside, the company has partnered with Mappedin, an enterprise providing mapping solutions to property owners and operators. The accuracy of these maps is 3-5 meters.

What is Apple’s indoor mapping service?

As soon as you enter into a mall or an airport with indoor maps, the “look inside” feature will appear on the screen. After selecting the feature, the navigation sign will direct you to your desired location. The process is similar to GPS. In multi-level buildings, the technology also allows scrolling between levels and automatically changes the floor plan as the user moves to another floor. For businesses, Apple’s indoor map has a “place card” feature through which a person can add information about a particular facility inside the building. This information could include the type of service, operating time and contact details.

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Through these maps, users can also look for a particular product — if someone is looking to buy a washing machine, he/she can simply type their need in the search section and the application will show all the stores selling the appliance within the mall.

In case of an airport, a person can easily locate check-in counter, security checkpoints and gates. This information can help travelers to prepare in advance so that they can save time and avoid delays. Travelers can also look for shop and eatery directories similar to those in the malls.

The best part of the Apple Indoor Map is that physical presence is not required for navigation. A person can view details of any mall or airport form anywhere.

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How does Indoor Positioning System work?

Indoor Positioning System (IPS) is just like GPS as it provides indoor location to track stores and people inside a building. It uses technologies like distance measurement to nearby anchor nodes to determine location. These nodes are LED, Bluetooth, Inertial Positioning Systems and Wi-Fi positioning system that are collected by mobile devices. These nodes either actively locate mobile devices and tags or provide ambient location or environmental context for devices to make floor plan, which is the most important component of IPS.

In indoor mapping, at least three independent measurements are needed to unambiguously find a location.  Apart from indoor navigation, IPS is also used for location-based advertising and emergency response.