By the end of 2015, Wi-Fi and hybrid technologies will comprise the majority of systems that will navigate users in locations covered by nearly 91,000 digital indoor-positioning maps. The most common technologies used for this purpose are Wi-Fi, Bluetooth/beacon technologies, smartphone sensors, and LED lighting. Hybrid systems typically combine Wi-Fi, smartphone on-board sensors and sometimes other data sources. The popularity of Wi-Fi is due to its low cost, ease of use and existing infrastructure, even though it is not the most accurate positioning technology. While LED lighting is not common today, it does offer high accuracy and has interesting potential.
Led by Wi-Fi and hybrid systems, the types of use cases that are expected to underpin the next stage in the smartphone revolution include the following: locating friends in a crowded nightclub or concert; finding products in a large store (or being directed to certain sections of a large store, based on consumer data); location-based gaming, and tracking staff -- especially for firefighters, physicians, and other emergency services staff, as well as employees at very large offices or factories.
The number of positioning maps is projected to more than double by the end of the decade, and the retail environment -- usually malls and larger stores -- is leading the market, for the moment. Other location-positioning opportunities exist in airports, educational and public facilities, private businesses, and many other areas -- although it should also be noted that those location-navigation markets are not as mature.
Statistical information on large groups of people (e.g., the average time people spend in certain areas) provides valuable information to companies, as does the tracking of specific populations; however, consumer privacy concerns are certainly an issue in this environment. In some cases the technology enables targeted advertising and monitoring of users’ positions; however, based on consumer reactions to other technology trends introduced in recent years, the majority of end-users are likely to overlook such concerns, given the opportunity to receive free navigation services and other benefits.