The indoor location market is now accelerating into the mainstream, with new contracts and deployments announced on an almost daily basis, according to ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com). The arrival of iBeacons has caught the imagination, but the reality is there are many more location technologies available, all of which have unique benefits.
“Many companies have focused on one technology or vertical, but it’s clear that both the opportunity and competition is much greater,” says Patrick Connolly, ABI Research senior analyst. “The industry needs to consider the whole ecosystem and which technologies are best suited to each application and vertical.”
For the first time, the industry can now see the full playing field, with a number of key trends already emerging:
° BLE beacons will take indoor location into a wide variety of verticals; this is not just for retail.
° Handset-based location will bring indoor into the mainstream, enabling the market to scale rapidly. It will also place control in the hands of Google and Apple.
° Carriers continue to invest in network-based technologies based on small cells and LTE, which can give them a significant edge, especially when combined with beacons (SK Telecom) or Wi-Fi (Verizon).
° The enterprise/corporate market should not be under-estimated. These markets require much larger deployments and can justify the technology based on business streamlining.
° Wi-Fi indoor location is far from dead, with next-gen technologies already entering the market, increasing accuracy and range, while also reducing cost.
° Handset-based technologies like LED, sensor fusion, and LTE Direct will help to bring high accuracy, consistency and social interaction into the mix.
° Indoor location will combine with always-on GNSS location to enable new services such as ambient intelligence, hyperlocal social networking, and the quantified self.
° The number of start-ups in this space continues to grow on a weekly basis. There are some interesting technologies about to come to market driving a new round of acquisition. However, differentiation is difficult and we can expect to see significant attrition over the next three years.