Indoor Positioning System

The future of indoor positioning

Whether the goal is simply to aid shoppers in a mall or prevent accidents in warehouses, the solution is increasingly spelled IPS, as in Indoor Positioning Systems. An IPS solution locates people or objects inside buildings, typically via readers or sensors reporting to a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet.

GE’s LED fixtures transmits a code in the light called Visible Light Communication, talking directly to smartphones while sensors and video provide valuable analytic data.

GE’s LED fixtures transmits a code in the light called Visible Light Communication, talking directly to smartphones while sensors and video provide valuable analytic data.

While not (yet) a standardized concept, IPS commonly relies on a combination of technologies, such as GPS, Bluetooth Wi-Fi, sensors, and – where accuracy and reliability is paramount – Ultra Wideband (UWB) communication. These technologies work together in detecting a user’s or object’s location, deriving a more or less accurate position.

The proliferation of public Wi-Fi networks and beacon technology, in combination with more advanced smartphones that can handle Location-Based Services (LBS) and increasing consumer savvy, contribute to a growing interest in IPS, according to Leslie Presutti, a Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm.

“The deployment of the infrastructure is becoming more pervasive and more cost-effective, while devices are becoming more sophisticated, applications more contextual and relevant, and more users are always online.

Everything is coming together at a perfect time. I don’t think we have even begun to tap the different applications that people can be served by through IPS.

Leslie Presutti

“IPS can be as popular as outdoor navigation systems when consumers sees benefits in either their time or pocketbook”, predicts Leslie Presutti, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm.

IPS collects Big Data

Qualcomm incorporates the location technology into its chipsets which enable low-power, extremely accurate, ubiquitous location. But it takes more than technology to deliver on the promise, notes Presutti:

“For IPS functionality success, venues have to be infrastructure capable to provide indoor location particularly when GPS cannot reach deep indoors.  Additionally, many retailers or big box stores must be willing to work with those who want to deliver IPS solutions particularly when it involves mapping of their venues.  Lastly, compelling applications have to encourage consumers to take advantage of the benefits that can be offered with IPS solutions.”

For a business case to emerge, retailers need to be made aware of how they can use IPS to collect Big Data for improving the consumer shopping experience; increasing basket size consumption; or for operational efficiency within their venue.

Consumers are looking at time-saving schemes, such as assistance in quickly finding the particular goods they want inside a store.

An app using IPS can offer an ideal route through the premises based on the customer’s own shopping list,” suggests Presutti, who predicts that IPS can be as popular as outdoor navigation systems particularly when the consumer sees benefits in either their time or pocketbook.

Live betting aided

But why are existing GPS-based navigation systems less suitable for indoor applications? The main reason is that GPS works less well indoors and that other forms of technology must be provided to assist a consumer indoors when satellites cannot be accessed.


We have previously covered smart textiles like Heddoko, that track your movement using embedded sensors. Solutions like these can be linked with IPS technology to aid live sports results tracking in real time.

Future commercial applications of IPS include live sports results tracking in real time, which are then used in live broadcast and for live betting and gambling.

If the athlete is wearing a vest that can read bio-medical data, the system is able to report, say, acceleration rate, heart and sweat rate, physical impact and numerous medical data in real time – as well as exact location.

In addition to a growing array of commercial applications, IPS has the ability to bolster workplace safety and security in the field of warehousing and distribution. Read more about this in the next article on IPS here on FutureLab.

qualcomm-logoLeslie Presutti currently serves as senior Director of Product Management and Business Development for Qualcomm Technology Incorporated. Leslie has been with Qualcomm for 18 years and has managed a number of initiatives within Qualcomm’s  inclusive of GPS, audio- and sensor-based technologies.

She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Penn State University and a Master of Science in Engineering from the Southern Methodist University.


By Jonas Rehnberg


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One Response to “The future of indoor positioning”

  1. Raghava Thoreau

    The world has evolved with time as have the lifestyles of people when it comes to usage and adapting to new technological trends designed to alleviate common problems faced by the populace. In extension to Global Positioning Systems (GPS) which works for outdoor navigation and wayfinding, we now have indoor positioning and navigation technologies which help with path finding within large facilities.

    Outdoor GPS navigation apps are among many such applications which have guided people in exploring places which are new to them. However, even today navigating within large indoor locations is a common challenge which visitors face in venues.

    For more explore