Optical/IP Networks

Nokia, 21 Others Explore the Great Indoors

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), Samsung Corp. , Sony Mobile Communications AB and 18 other location-based services companies are joining forces to improve how you get around behind closed doors. (See Location-Based Services Alliance Formed.)

The 22 companies announced the formation of the In-Location Alliance on Thursday. The group plans to develop high accuracy indoor location at lower power levels and promote new services based on that location data. Some examples the group cites include sending a subscriber directions to the right products or personalized product promotions in nearby shops, and real-time navigation inside a building.

The group hopes to foster a community around location as well and says it will "pilot the most promising services and use cases from a business and solution point of view." The multi-vendor group says it will promote open interfaces and a standard-based approach -- using Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi to start -- in doing so. Pre-commercial pilots and business model verifications will start this year with the technology and consumer apps making their way to handsets next year.

Other founding members include: Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), CSR plc (London: CSR), Dialog Semiconductor plc , Eptisa, Geomobile, Genasys, Indra Sistemas SA , Insiteo, Nomadic Solutions, Nordic Semiconductor, Nordic Technology Group, NowOn, Primax Electronics, RapidBlue Solutions, Seolane Innovation, TamperSeal AB, Team Action Zone and Visioglobe.

Why this matters
Indoor location is a different beast from outdoor, where GPS signals are prevalent. Indoors is subject to interference and often in areas that are out of reach of even the best assisted GPS. However, by joining forces with 21 other companies across the location industry, Nokia and the other members will be able to take advantage of a bevy of technologies, including potentially Qualcomm-powered small cells, to improve indoor location data. (See Rumor: Qualcomm to Buy Small-Cell Specialist.)

For Nokia, in particular, location is the lynchpin in its strategy to compete in the mobile market, although it has stiff competition from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). Being able to promise the most highly accurate location data, as well as integration with a number of big players in the industry, should help it find its way.

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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