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Indoor Mapping and Accurate Location

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Just as Google Maps did for cities, mobile apps can display accurate maps of large venues indicating the user’s location.

In the retail space, according to an article published in USA Today, “Mobile apps are also becoming a key sales channel. Nudging customers to share what they buy also gives retailers valuable data for merchandising, inventory control and personalized deals.”

In addition to making the user’s experience better with maps and navigation, there are opportunities for the venue to publish location-relevant information and relevant deals deals.  The resulting analytics can give venues new insight into their customers preferences and behaviors.

The problem: accuracy of indoor location determination.

Smartphones rely on cell tower triangulation, GPS satellites, and wifi triangulation to determine a user’s location.  Cell tower triangulation provides just a rough approximation.  GPS is much more accurate, but doesn’t work well indoors where your phones can’t “see” the satellites.  Wifi triangulation can work indoors, wifi networks at most venues, if they exist at all, were installed to provide internet access, not to help with location calculations.

Smartphones will continue to improve the accuracy of user location detection.  In the mean time a venue can make improvements themselves by adding additional wifi routers.  With some investment, there are other options using sound, lighting systems, and bluetooth.