Indoor location application platform market consists of vendors that supply on-premises and cloud-based application platforms that ingest location data from indoor location services. These tools can consolidate and process the data for its use in wayfinding applications, location-based advertising and promotions, tag-based people tracking, real-time mobile asset tracking, as well as being able to track and report various usage analytics. The solution components may include a mobile software development kit (SDK) or tablet applications that work in conjunction with the application platform. Mobile app users receive location-based services such as wayfinding or targeted offers based on their preferences and location. In a B2B context, users of these applications receive information about their workplace as part of a workplace resource management system. The location engine processes location data which can then be analysed and reported by an analytics tool. The cloud-based or on-premises application platform governs the management of the devices, tags and beacons, as well as configuration, provisioning and updating of the application.
Indoor Location Application Vendors normally offer both cloud and/or on-premises deployments, depending on customer preference. The cloud-based or on-premises application platform usually interfaces with:
- An API to the indoor location service engine
- A datastore that stores the data
- An SDK to develop dedicated front-end applications
- A vertical market application logic that provides analytic reporting and/or communicates with other upstream applications
Indoor Location Application Characteristics
- Technology focus: Providers usually have a technology focus as to which source their location application can ingest and process data to provide location information. Mainstream technologies are Bluetooth, 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) Wi-Fi and increasingly, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and cellular for indoor-outdoor transitional use cases. Applications for critical asset tracking and real-time location systems (RTLS) often use additional technologies including (but not limited to) UWB, 125 kilohertz (kHz), 433 megahertz (MHz), infrared and ultrasound. There are also non-wireless technologies used in combination to provide location information that measure the distance of two assets and/or perform people counting.
- Business problem focus: Indoor location applications cover a wide field of use cases. For example, there are those that began as an indoor mapping and wayfinding service, providing these services to retailers, universities, hotels or hospitals; and then expanded by addressing business problems such as occupancy monitoring and resource scheduling for office environments. Others may focus on people safety applications or asset tracking in industrial environments.
- Industry: While RTLS platform providers may be fairly industry-agnostic, most location applications are very specific. Examples are retail customer analytics applications or a tool that allows an organization to monitor desk and conference room occupancy. Some vendors provide an end-to-end solution (hardware infrastructure, vertical applications and location engine) for the healthcare market or manufacturing, such as the tracking and analysis of forklifts, parts and people in real time.
- Geography: Apart from larger vendors that serve a global customer base, the market can be segmented into “location pioneers”. Even though these caters to the midsize market, over the last decade they have slowly but steadily expanded their businesses to other geographies by using channel partners.
- Deployment environment: Most providers have a cloud-first strategy; however, depending on the industry and use case, they will also offer an on-premises solution. Healthcare and manufacturing clients may require the latter.
Social Distancing Technologies
Many of the existing indoor location application vendors introduced a “COVID-19 response” product over the last 10 months to address social distancing and other related return-to-work use cases. Yet with increasing uncertainties around vaccine distribution and the spread of mutations possibly triggering a third wave of infections toward early 2022, the opportunity for these solutions has been extended until at least 2023 — and quite possibly beyond within certain geographies.
- Wi-Fi Infrastructure – tracks location of devices and calculates proximity
- Tracking Infrastructure – deduces proximity from the location of connected devices
- Wearables or smartphone apps – measures proximity
- Video analytics – deduces proximity and tracks other information such as mask usage
Location-Enabled Workplace Resource Management – Use Cases
While some of these technologies may be initially requested to help with better space planning during COVID-19, there are also other factors driving adoption.
Use cases that vendors address include:
- Indoor wayfinding and turn-by-turn navigation (including for users with disabilities) for smartphones and providing location information included in map kiosks. Additionally, integration with Google Maps will show users an estimated time of arrival (ETA) for travel to the office.
- “Finding a colleague” in a complex building by sharing one’s location with each other via a mobile app or finding the nearest conference room that is available.
- Space planning is a visualization of workspace to plan for more dispersed workstations/desks during COVID-19.
- Occupancy monitoring in real-time for room-level and desk-level occupancy visibility using various technologies including computer vision, infrared, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies.
- Occupancy monitoring over a longer period provides insights into how often/long spaces are used that can help with optimization of space utilization.
- Cleaning-on-demand is based on occupancy monitoring, identifying locations/desks that need to be cleaned so they can be used by the next person.
- Detecting crowded spaces detects the number of people in a room that can trigger alerts if a certain threshold is exceeded.
- Report an incident such as a broken ventilator in a conference room that can be tagged in the app with the location, for example. Maintenance staff can easily identify the issue and potentially fix it in a shorter time.
- Contact tracing and social distancing using tags, wearables or smartphones that detect each other’s proximity and provide alerts to the user when too close to a colleague. These incidents are recorded, and in case an employee reports a positive test result on COVID-19, users that have been in contact with the infected person can be identified and notified.
At the highest level, there are a multitude of technologies and techniques in the market that can be used to determine location. Moreover, this characteristic is continuing as there are almost more technologies being added than are being retired. One way to structure this market is to look at different location scenarios and the most common technologies used in these scenarios.
Location Scenarios and Technologies
- Indoor-Centric Location Scenarios
- Accurate Location Detection
- Proximity Detection
- Zonal Location Detection over Small Area
- Indoor/Outdoor Location Scenarios
- Campus Location Detection (wider area)
- Nationwide/Long Distance location Tracking
Vendor capabilities for indoor location application platforms are wide-ranging and, in many cases, overlapping. It is difficult to categorize these platforms, as many play a role in more than one part of the location value chain. One way to categorize them is to look at their core capabilities and offerings. Vendors in this market keep pivoting and — due to new opportunities — refocusing their efforts into new use cases. As a result, they may fit into more than one category.
- Mapping software and tools to create and update or convert files into digital maps, including special equipment necessary to map a floor space, such as lidar sensors.
- Wayfinding applications that can include SDKs, APIs, and the development of mobile and web applications for an indoor turn-by-turn navigation experience. These usually include many additional features, such as point-of-interest search, emergency management and space utilization.
- Location analytics and customer engagement platforms to personalize the customer experience. These may include BLE beacons and an associated beacon management platform; while location analytics normally involves dashboards and APIs to integrate with business intelligence platforms.
Most indoor location applications integrate with business applications via APIs and — in case it is not an end-to end solution — ingest data from third-party location engines viz. Business Intelligence Platforms, CRMs, EHR Systems, ERPs and so on.
Kanoo Elite and its years of experience in providing in-house services and platforms help you analyse a wide range of techniques and devices used to provide indoor location from redesigned already used devices such as Smartphones, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna, digital cameras, and watches; purpose-built transfers with transfers and backups strategically placed in the specified space; lamps, radio waves, magnetic fields, acoustic signals, and behavioural analytics are all used in IPS networks. We have combined our experience with clients from all over the world to show you the key areas of the application and where the business value comes from in each case. If you are considering adding IPS to your service delivery, Kanoo Elite is a one-stop solution provider for the best solution to match your application.