Indoor Navigation at Gatwick Airport via Bluetooth Beacons →


The UK’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, has opted for the latter approach to power an indoor navigation system it’s launching as part of a wider, multi-year transformation program.

It’s now finished kitting out its two terminals with around 2,000 battery-powered beacons so that digital map users will get a more accurate blue dot as they wander around. The beacon system will also be used to power an augmented reality wayfinding tool (pictured above) — so that mobile users will be able to be guided to specific locations within the terminals via on-screen arrows. The beacon system is slated as supporting positioning with +/-3m accuracy. […]

Gatwick says it will not be collecting any personal data via the beacons but says “generic information on ‘people densities’ in different beacon zones” will be used to help improve airport operations — such as queue measurement, streamlining passenger flows and reducing congestion.

This is the first time in a while we've heard of Bluetooth beacons in the wild. This is something to watch. Venues will be motivated to adopt this for more analytics, just like Gatwick. Consumers will be motivated for easier navigation. In addition to airports, think malls and Disneyland.

This is a "boring" technology that will be fundamental to augmented reality applications in the real world.

I'm eager to see if Apple unveils more progress with their four-year old iBeacons technology.

MIT's Super-Accurate Wireless Speed Measurement Tech →


MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab has figured out a way of measuring walking speed to within 95 and 99 percent accuracy — all without requiring a wearable or other on-body measurement device. The tech uses wireless signals, dubbed “WiGait” by the research team, sent out by router-like devices within the home to track walking speed and stride length over time.

Based on my theory that Apple will use its iBeacons and Indoor Mapping to supplement Augmented Reality in the real world, I could see Apple acquiring this tech.

iBeacons: Beyond Indoor Mapping →

AppleInsider explains Apple's recent patent application:

For example, if a user needed to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, Apple's technology could determine which office has the shortest lines at any given time, and advise the user to visit that location.

In the event that the location cannot be changed, such as when the user has a flight scheduled, Apple's system could alert the user with reminders and give them a suggested time to arrive at the airport. Doing so would allow users accommodate for heavy traffic and help ensure that they arrive at their gate on time.

Apple's system would measure traffic by tracking data from a user's iPhone, measuring their movement over time. Those movements would be used to determine how long it takes for people to move through a specific location, estimating how long the lines might be at that particular spot.

"The server can determine how long mobile devices (and their users) loiter around locations of interest or remain in a queue," the filing reads. "For example, the server can analyze the indoor traffic information to determine how long (e.g., on average) mobile devices have to wait near a cash register location."

There is much more that can be done with indoor mapping than just mapping out shopping malls and having nearby stores push promos to your phone.

Apple may never catch up with Google Maps for outdoor mapping, so now, as I've said before, Apple wants to be the Google Maps (and Waze) for indoor venues.

How Apple Indoor Mapping Will Work →


Apple has taken two different but complimentary approaches to this problem. The first is the iBeacon system, which depends on small palm-sized Bluetooth transmitters placed around a particular space.

When an iOS device sees an iBeacon, it can analyze the signal to determine approximately how far away from that beacon it is. Using multiple iBeacons with known locations, developers can roughly triangulate the user's position.

This isn't very helpful on a large scale, however, since there is no central database of iBeacon locations — such data is by and large only usable by the owner of the beacons. To address the larger problem, Apple acquired small indoor mapping firm WiFiSLAM in early 2013.

WiFiSLAM's technology combines data from on-device sensors with Wi-Fi signal trilateration to plot a user's path. The Wi-Fi signals provide relative positioning, while on-board sensors record movement.

Here's an example: your iPhone could analyze the signal strength of Wi-Fi networks around your house to determine approximately how far you are from each access point. As you move around, the accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope on the handset measure forces exerted by maneuvers like turning left and then right again to avoid a coffee table.

Combining all of that data together over a period of time can bring detailed patterns to light; e.g. "there is an obstacle three feet from point A that can be avoided by moving left two feet." Extending that data capture and pattern recognition to many users — say, the thousands of iPhone owners that visit a shopping mall in a given day — allows for the development of detailed and highly accurate maps without the aid of overhead satellites or dedicated data gathering initiatives.

iBeacons, another "boring" feature announced two summers ago, will really shine when this indoor mapping system gains traction. Apple wants to be Google Maps, but for all indoor venues.

The iWallet is Coming →

Tristan Louis, Forbes:

Every step of the way, the company focused on reducing friction and providing increased value for the user when its competitors asked the users to do more work. The net result is that users have voluntarily provided all the components Apple now needs to enable a payment revolution. And we’re about to witness the rise of the iWallet, maybe not this year but pretty soon.

While all the doubters are busy proclaiming "Apple is doomed without Steve Jobs" and "Apple doesn't innovate," Apple's been quietly laying the foundation for a major mobile payments revolution.