Several Israeli startups are leading the way in navigation apps, but not in the way that you think. Most people are familiar with Waze, the navigation app that helps drivers find the fastest route to their destination. But there’s a new group of startups that are vying to change the world of indoor navigation.
Instead of helping you find your way to the nearest gas station, these apps will help you navigate malls, hospitals, museums and airports with the tap of a button.
The app Oriient, founded in Tel Aviv, uses the earth’s magnetic field and sensors in smartphones to find the user’s indoor location.
Many malls already offer free apps that let users search for stores and products. Oriient can be added to the app to help the shopper get to that product or store they searched for.
Navin is another app that’s working on indoor navigation, and it works much like how Waze works. The app is powered by crowdsourcing. Navin’s P2P Crowd Mapping technology essentially turns a user’s smartphone into an indoor mapping device that captures millions of data movement points. The app uses this data to generate maps of indoor spaces.
Navin is already being tested in major hospitals in Israel. The company has 12 employees and raised almost $2 million from investors.
The company is still working on a revenue model, but mobile advertising is being considered.
Another startup is taking a different approach to indoor navigation. Indoorgo Navigation Systems is creating an app that uses smartphone sensors, existing infrastructure and the fixed position of the building’s overhead lights to create indoor maps.
New buildings must be mapped by one person before they can be added to the database. The process takes about two hours and doesn’t require any special training. Data obtained from subsequent users helps make the positioning even more accurate – up to less than a meter.
The Indoorgo app is currently in the demo phase and is being tested in major Israeli shopping malls. Like Navin, the company’s revenue model will likely be in-app targeted advertising.
These startups are looking to innovate and disrupt the indoor navigation industry. Google Maps offers a similar service, but their navigation can throw users off by 10-15 meters.
In London, the Gatwick airport installed 2,000 battery-powered beacons, which communicate with a navigation system developed by Pointr, a UK startup. The goal is to make it easier for passengers to get to their destinations. Another startup, Cherrypicks, plans to bring a similar navigation system to airports in Hong Kong and mainland China. Users can even use an augmented reality feature to follow arrows in the phone’s camera view.
The augmented reality feature even translates signage for easier navigation through foreign airports.
The indoor location market, as it’s called, is expected to grow and thrive over the next few years. By 2022, the market is expected to be worth $41 billion. A report from Opus Research found that there were 200 startups working on indoor navigation systems.