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  • Apple Acquires Indoor GPS Company "WifiSLAM" for $20M


    Apple recently closed a deal that was worth roughly $20 million to acquire WifiSLAM, a firm focused on building technology that affords users positioning data while indoors. The Wall Street Journal was able to confirm the acquisition with an Apple spokesman, though the company didn’t give details of the deal or what it plans to do with WifiSLAM’s “indoor GPS” technology.

    According to the spokesman who declined to comment further, "[Apple] buys smaller technology companies from time to time.” In the report, the publication cited people who claimed to be familiar with the acquisition as saying Apple paid some $20 million in the recently closed deal.

    Those of you who are unfamiliar with it, WifiSLAM is a developer of indoor positioning technologies, which extends location data to the inside of buildings and other structures using Wi-Fi signals. The data can be used by third-party apps to accurately grant handset users positioning data where GPS signals tend to be absent. The startup is roughly two years and old and has already raised funding from angel investors, though the exact amount is unknown. WifiSLAM also has a number of ties to Google, including the company’s co-founder, Joseph Huang, who was previously a software engineering intern at the search giant. Currently Google employee Don Dodge is also listed as one of the angel investors.

    The Cupertino California company could possibly implement the positioning assets into its iOS Maps app as an answer to Google’s Indoor Maps initiative, which leverages crowdsourcing to deliver indoor location information for a number of locations worldwide. While Apple’s first-party mapping service has seen improvements since stumbling out of the gates in September 2012, many users still prefer to use the Google Maps iOS app, which offers features like Street View and a more robust set of satellite imagery.

    We’ll just have to wait and be patient to see how Apple ends up utilizing the assets of their new acquisition.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Acquires Indoor GPS Company "WifiSLAM" for $20M started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. chiraagnt's Avatar
      chiraagnt -
      Google maps>iOS maps.. Apple gonna need to put in more effort.. And it's probably gonna take a lot of time to reach googles standard..
    1. jOnGarrett's Avatar
      jOnGarrett -
      "We’ll just have to wait and be patient to see how Apple ends up utilizing the assets of their new acquisition" With lawsuits !! what else would they use it for?

      Quote Originally Posted by chiraagnt View Post
      Google maps>iOS maps.. Apple gonna need to put in more effort.. And it's probably gonna take a lot of time to reach googles standard..
      I think maybe apple wants to offer indoor navigation like Google maps on Android does.
    1. micaiah12's Avatar
      micaiah12 -
      Quote Originally Posted by chiraagnt View Post
      Google maps>iOS maps.. Apple gonna need to put in more effort.. And it's probably gonna take a lot of time to reach googles standard..
      From what I've heard apple maps suck. But when I use it here in Montana. It works like a charm. So I don't see what's wrong. Although to a lot of people google maps is better, but remember google has been in the map business for a long time. Apple just started. Google sucked when it was first released also. So let up a little and take some factors into account here.
    1. novadam's Avatar
      novadam -
      Apple maps has always worked perfectly for me.
    1. chiraagnt's Avatar
      chiraagnt -
      Quote Originally Posted by micaiah12 View Post
      From what I've heard apple maps suck. But when I use it here in Montana. It works like a charm. So I don't see what's wrong. Although to a lot of people google maps is better, but remember google has been in the map business for a long time. Apple just started. Google sucked when it was first released also. So let up a little and take some factors into account here.
      Yeah true.. Haha I guess living in Singapore, a small dot in south East Asian means apple has to take its time to bring its US features here. For now google has done a good job here. Only hope apple can too
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by micaiah12 View Post
      From what I've heard apple maps suck. But when I use it here in Montana. It works like a charm. So I don't see what's wrong. Although to a lot of people google maps is better, but remember google has been in the map business for a long time. Apple just started. Google sucked when it was first released also. So let up a little and take some factors into account here.
      True, indeed, Google's map service has been around for quite some time, but one thing you didn't mention was that when they started, it was the beginning of this sort of online mapping technology in general. Services like Google's, Mapquest, etc were of the first gen of this tech. It is hard to place Apple's mapping service in the same boat, seeing how much they had and have to build off of, especially when you consider how much of their services is based on existing services like TomTom, so it's incorrect to assume Apple simply started from scratch. That said, like any new software in general, there will always be issues to worked out, even if most of them should have been caught in during testing phase prior to public release.
    1. NoGoodNick's Avatar
      NoGoodNick -
      though the company didn’t give details of the deal or what it plans to do with WifiSLAM’s “indoor GPS” technology.
      It's more likely that Apple is interested in new "Find People" tools. There's a new group trying to develop an app for blind people to use to locate where others they know are in a specific room. While that's not likely not Apple's goal, it shows how people are starting to view these new potentials.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by NoGoodNick View Post
      It's more likely that Apple is interested in new "Find People" tools. There's a new group trying to develop an app for blind people to use to locate where others they know are in a specific room. While that's not likely not Apple's goal, it shows how people are starting to view these new potentials.
      I would have a hard time believing, at least with current known devices, that the GPS could be used in such a way, as it's simply not the accurate in devices like the iPhone. Maybe it could be used to determine if someone was in the same building, but it would be very difficult to accurately determine if two devices were in the same room, considering the most accurate I've seen GPS in most cellular and similar hand-helds is around 15-20 meters at the best and it often is off by a lot more, depending on where you are. So unless newer devices allow for more accurate readings, I just don't see how indoor-GPS would be viable, unless there is something I am missing.
    1. ThatOneProfile's Avatar
      ThatOneProfile -
      Just another way for apple to sell our data.
    1. NoGoodNick's Avatar
      NoGoodNick -
      Quote Originally Posted by szr View Post
      I would have a hard time believing, at least with current known devices, that the GPS could be used in such a way, as it's simply not the accurate in devices like the iPhone. Maybe it could be used to determine if someone was in the same building, but it would be very difficult to accurately determine if two devices were in the same room, considering the most accurate I've seen GPS in most cellular and similar hand-helds is around 15-20 meters at the best and it often is off by a lot more, depending on where you are. So unless newer devices allow for more accurate readings, I just don't see how indoor-GPS would be viable, unless there is something I am missing.
      Alas, the item I was referring to was a Research item, where they're (the research group) is trying to develop the technology to create a solution, rather than actually develop a current app. I don't have the link to the story on my desktop, but I'll try to find where I read it (it's on one of my mobile devices, I'm just not sure which one).

      But I still maintain that that's Apple's interest, not so much in finding the nearest Starbucks in an office complex, but in using it to find PEOPLE (say your friends, via an "Find My Friends" app).
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      Quote Originally Posted by szr View Post
      I would have a hard time believing, at least with current known devices, that the GPS could be used in such a way, as it's simply not the accurate in devices like the iPhone. Maybe it could be used to determine if someone was in the same building, but it would be very difficult to accurately determine if two devices were in the same room, considering the most accurate I've seen GPS in most cellular and similar hand-helds is around 15-20 meters at the best and it often is off by a lot more, depending on where you are. So unless newer devices allow for more accurate readings, I just don't see how indoor-GPS would be viable, unless there is something I am missing.
      I believe this article, the article you just (supposedly) read... is what you are missing...What you said you have a "hard time believing", is pretty much EXACTLY what WiFiSlam is doing, or trying to do...Well, make that what APPLE is trying to do now. You are right when you say GPS isn't accurate enough, but their name isn't GPSSlam...its WiFiSlam.

      Below is WiFiSlams product description taken off their webpage.

      "Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.

      We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking."

      Sounds ALOT like what you said cant be done. And notice, its software that can make this possible, not a new phone or device.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by iLoveWindows&iPhone View Post
      I believe this article, the article you just (supposedly) read... is what you are missing...What you said you have a "hard time believing", is pretty much EXACTLY what WiFiSlam is doing, or trying to do...Well, make that what APPLE is trying to do now. You are right when you say GPS isn't accurate enough, but their name isn't GPSSlam...its WiFiSlam.

      Below is WiFiSlams product description taken off their webpage.

      "Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.

      We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking."

      Sounds ALOT like what you said cant be done. And notice, its software that can make this possible, not a new phone or device.
      I never said it cannot be done, though you are correct I should have read the article then (which I had planned on doing.) Since it's based on wifi, then that's indeed a different ballgame.
    1. DaLsim's Avatar
      DaLsim -
      Crapple suck on map.(Plan N simple). No needed IQ on this 1!
    1. hogcia's Avatar
      hogcia -
      Dam just $20mil? Apple got a good deal!
    1. HovikGas's Avatar
      HovikGas -
      Quote Originally Posted by NoGoodNick View Post
      It's more likely that Apple is interested in new "Find People" tools. There's a new group trying to develop an app for blind people to use to locate where others they know are in a specific room. While that's not likely not Apple's goal, it shows how people are starting to view these new potentials.
      Yea, I could see Apple including this in their Find My Friends app... Now if they only implemented the 3D features of their Maps app into it, so you could see what floor your friend is on in a multi-story building, that would be AWESOME...