LBS, Location Based Search has already spread its roots deep in today’s technically enabled world, it has established itself as a necessity for the urban population, something we can’t live without. Be it for finding the location of your hotel in a new city, looking for tour spots or trying to find that one restaurant you’ve always wanted to visit; Maps (be it from Google or Apple), is the one answer to everything.
Several industry analysis from around the world suggest that LBS has penetrated most parts of our lives and has proved itself as a great help over time; but what if you get lost in an amusement park, an airport, or a university? What if a disaster strikes or you are stuck in an attack of some sort? The enhanced 9-1-1 or the E 911, policy demands such navigation, but simple LBS fails to provide information inside such restricted perimeters. This limitation was noted by developers, some 5 years back, and then came in the Indoor LBS, Indoor Location Based Industry. With the introduction of Indoor LBS, tracking people within closed quarters became a possibility. Organizations using private servers and secure networks could now, with the help of LBS keep a tab on things. According to recent market trends, most of the companies globally use Indoor LBS to track their employees. Airports use it to provide navigations from one point to the other and remain updated about the flight schedules.
How you ask? Well, for the Indoor LBS to work, every smart navigation-enabled device (your phones, tablets, etc.) should support a wireless connectivity of some sort. So GPS evolved into A-GPS or Assistive GPS that uses a device’s navigation system and its cellular network; however, it isn’t a major option because of its cost (which is obviously pretty high).
Majority of the navigation enabled devices have a Wi-Fi; hence, a Wi-Fi connectivity with the server becomes an important option. But Wi-Fi location enables only a 20m accuracy from the Wi-Fi access point; therefore, it is considered ‘not accurate enough’. Bluetooth is another option, it is a micro-level technology that is being deployed inside malls, hospitals, airports, etc., so phones that are enabled with Bluetooth can leverage the services. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is another promising option, but most phones don’t have RFID chips/tags in them.
Since, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and RFID are the only options- for indoor LBS to work the device needs to be close to a Wi-Fi access point or a Bluetooth node. Companies have figured out several advantageous of location-based intelligence such as:
Proximity-based marketing: With the help of LBS local companies can forward ads to individuals present within the closest geographic location. Moreover, potential customers can acquire ads through location-based mobile marketing within the city so as to act on the provided information.
Travel Details: LBS is quite effective in delivering real-time information, which includes traffic updates as well as weather reports directly to the smartphone that helps the user to manage things accordingly.
Roadside Aid: There are many roadside assistance companies which offer an app that allows to track the user’s exact location in case of an accident or any other serious mishap.
Mobile Workforce Operations: For companies which are logistics-dependent, there is a need for LBS in order to assist employees out in the field or at multiple locations to check in using their mobile devices.
Prevention of Fraud: An LBS helps in the creation of an enhanced level of security by linking a customer’s location using a smartphone with a credit card transaction. The connection of a credit card to a smartphone’s location allows you to jack transactions made across different geographic locations over a shorter duration.
According to the latest market research, Indoor LBS industry has seen a boom in their profits and requirement of the services. The indoor LBS market has a high potential for growth because of the presence of several start-ups offering cheap and innovative solutions. Mobile advertising and location-based gaming have also increased the said potential in terms of growth and profitability; therefore, they attract many investors. Business research reports also suggest that, approximately 55% of the total consumer and advertiser expense done on LBS market comes from the location-based search and advertising market. Key vendors in this market being – Google, Apple, Foursquare, xAd.