Thursday, January 12, 2012

Proximity as a service

Indoor positioning at this moment is a hot area for LBS applications. There is no common denominator for indoor location but technically Wi-Fi based solutions are probably prevailing.

Wi-Fi based approach for indoor positioning is always based on the net of basic nodes (Wi-Fi tags for example) with known locations. Based on that we can deploy some triangulation for getting position for our Wi-Fi device. Actually, it is similar to cell-id, where Wi-Fi tags play the role of base stations.

So, the main problem is the need for some preliminary preparation steps for Wi-Fi network we are going to use for indoor positioning. And what if we need some dynamic solutions? It is actually a starting point for our SpotEx (Spot expert) project.

What if we will take from traditional indoor positioning systems the first step only – Wi-Fi networks detection? Obviously, if our mobile phone can see some Wi-Fi access point we are somewhere nearby. And the word “nearby” actually dictates that we should use proximity services rather than traditional location based services. That is probably fine because the proximity (being nearby) let us directly provide the relevant content to our users, without the preliminary geo-calculations. But we need some tools that let us add measurement to the word “nearby”. Similar to the geo-location tools we need services for proximity based operations.

Our SpotEx model presents one of possible tools for the proximity services. And as the second step in our “new indoor approach” we will add the ability describe some content that depends on the Wi-Fi networks visibility. We will get some kind of context aware браузер – our user will see content depends on the exiting Wi-Fi access points. Actually, we can add rules for the visibility where we can use Wi-Fi, time, probability, history of access etc.

We do not need in this case any preliminary preparation for that network. We can proceed even dynamically added nodes. For example, Wi-Fi access point we can associate our rules with could be Wi-Fi access point opened by demand right on another mobile phone.

Once again – it is not about access to some Wi-Fi network. Access point could be protected and closed for public access. The only thing Spot Expert is based on is its visibility. Access point plays a role of sensor (trigger) here. If our mobile user can see that network he/she is nearby.

Current implementation provides Android application for end users and web client (including mobile web) for creating rules and setting content nodes. See Spot expert site for details and application downloading.

Possible use cases are: delivering commercial information (deals, discounts, coupons) in malls, hyper-local news data, data discovery in Smart City projects, personal news sites etc

There is also a special simplified version prepared for retail area – In Mall Notes. Contact us for demo access.

A side effect - WiFi chat. This service provides the predefined elements of content: web chat and discussion groups connected to some visible Wi-Fi access point. Suppose we have some Wi-Fi network in train (bus etc.) WiFi chat application provides communication tools for people in the net’s area. You can get more details in our article about WiFi chat.

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