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Indoor GPS Arriving Soon For Smartphones

News   •   Jul 20, 2012 13:00 BST

Finnish researchers have pooled together to create IndoorAtlas, which is set to be one of the coolest inventions in a long time. At the moment, GPS and mapping systems cannot show detailed pictures of the floor, but now thanks to the geniuses at the Finnish University of Oulu they have devised a way of using the phone’s accelerometer and the Earth’s magnetic field  to clearly map out a floor plan.

This means that when you’re in a large mall, on holiday or driving throughout underpasses and underground highways – such as in Boston, New York – you can have an accurate GPS-style map on your smartphone. The technology is being dubbed Indoor Positioning System (IPS) and will be available in the future to download as an app. It will no doubt be quickly completed as the firm will be the first to release this kind of technology on the market. It’s quite simple really, as any smartphone with a magnetic accelerometer will instantly repel or attract the Earth’s magnetic field so that the app can figure out the layout of the land. As it won’t rely on satellite imagery to display the maps, which can easily be affected by large buildings, steel structures and being underground, it means that you can identify your location anywhere in the world.

Looking at industries, this could well be used for underground digging, mining and for Mountain Rescue teams where people might have fallen into ravines or been pot-holing and got stuck. As traditional compasses are pointless in urban settings as the enormous structures can knock them off-course and stop you getting an accurate reading of true north, the smartphone app will use the magnets inside the phone to digitise the land layout from magnetic disturbances.

In theory, the boffins in Finland have discovered that thanks to the accuracy of the magnetic compass and the app itself, the maps will be able to tell the user an exact layout down to around 10 centimetres, which is far greater than any wayward GPS map. The technology doesn’t stop there, though, as users will be able to upload the map to Google Maps (or Bing Maps) and it will be saved online for others to use and retrieve at a much faster speed – which will stop slow rendering – and thus every smartphone user will help one another around the world without even knowing it.

It’s being regarded as the opposite of FourSquare, whereby a shop or landmark will greet you rather than you having to check-in so the map knows where it is before you do. In this age of letting computers and technology do yet more stuff for us, it seems churlish to keep a smartphone for longer than 12 months. If you’re looking for a cheap mobile phone contract or you’re waiting for the best and cheapest iPhone 5 deals, then take a look at Mobile Phone Checker; the UK’s number one online comparison site for contract mobile phones and pick from the best deals available.