This Competitive Assessment focuses on the indoor location technology market in retail. As the market has expanded it has included parameters such as the ability to support advertising and analytics, meaning the scope is beyond just indoor location technologies.
From a technology standpoint, there are a variety of proprietary technologies under consideration. The market can be easily split into two categories. The first is handset-based solutions that use readily available RF signals, visible light, audio, magnetic field, and integrated features such as sensor fusion to locate a device indoors. This can be achieved at low cost but accuracy is subject to the particular RF environment of an indoor location as well as the availability of APIs to access RF information. The second is infrastructure-based solutions that use dedicated infrastructure positioned throughout an indoor environment to achieve consistently high accuracy, with a corresponding cost.
The market has been turned on its head in the last 12 months with the arrival of iBeacons and BLE beacons in general. Wi-Fi, which had led the way, has also been affected by Apple's decision to randomize MAC addresses. LED and magnetic field technologies have made huge strides in 2014 and are now the two best placed to significantly change the make-up of this market. Audio is a very interesting and under-utilized alternative, offering low cost and total handset reach, as championed by Shopkick. Finally, a second generation of start-ups is emerging, focused on taking sensor fusion towards data fusion and ambient intelligence, which will combine a hybrid of all available location technologies with sources of relevant information such as indoor maps, analytics, and other queues that will improve accuracy.