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Shopcloud is launching a new indoor location technology that it says will deliver “breakthrough” accuracy for finding your way inside big buildings, and it says it relies entirely on sensors already built into modern smartphones.
Indoor navigation is a technological challenge that small and big companies alike are tackling. If they succeed, then tracking the location of people in places such as shopping malls could help retailers make great strides — and generate a lot of revenue from location-based advertising.
But it’s hard to do indoor location, as global positioning system (GPS) satellites don’t work indoors, and not every indoor place has sensors or Wi-Fi signals that can be used for triangulating your position. And adding new sensors to smartphones or the surrounding environment can be prohibitively expensive and will burn up your battery.
But Shopcloud claims it can fix your location with one-meter to six-meter accuracy, using nothing more than available technologies. The Tel Aviv-based company says it uses six methods to find your location, but it is only talking about two of them so far. Shopcloud calls its technology Inside, and it says it can recognize when you are in a specific store or even if you are in front of a cash register.
The company says its technology is less complex than other solutions and will be free for users and for location managers who want better mapping. The company says that it uses a camera and computer vision algorithms and other sensors to provide positioning information.
“This is one of the most exciting times to be part of the tech industry, because we are standing at the precipice of a real revolution,” said Gil Devora, CEO and founder of Shopcloud. “The technology we have built is going to change our day-to-day lives and has the potential to transform multiple industries. We’re incredibly proud of what we have accomplished so far and are focused on a clear path to bring this technology to the masses.”
It sounds far-fetched, and the company admits it will meet with skeptics. But it notes that smartphones have many of the “same senses as human beings.” Shopcloud says it has patented the combination of these sensors.
The company also offers a suite of tools that allow retailers to interact with users and provide them with valuable location-specific information. It is in the process of signing up malls and other locations around the globe to be mapped for its service — a process that it says is simple and takes only a few hours. It is currently testing the technology in Israel.
Shopcloud was founded in 2012 and has 14 employees. It isn’t saying how much money it has raised, but investors include Jeremy Moon (founder of New Zealand clothing maker Icebreaker) and Shlomi Gabai. Executives include Gilad Waksman, senior vice president of innovation, and Michael Bar Zeev, vice president of product.