Navigating the Great Indoors

The smartphone industry is gearing up to get you around when out of sight of GPS satellites

3 min read
STMicroelectronics and others want smartphones to get you around in malls and other indoor spaces.
Image: STMicroelectronics

Google, dumped by Apple as the iPhone’s default navigation app, is doing more than chortling at Apple’s well-documented mapping troubles. It’s fighting back with more navigation features, many likely intended for use indoors. And a number of major mobile device makers and cellphone service providers have teamed up to develop a standard for indoor navigation, an effort that neither Google nor Apple is part of. 


Indoor navigation technology is going to be quite a bit different from its outdoor counterpart. Outdoors, navigation relies for the most part on GPS, whose accuracy ranges from 1 to 10 meters. Indoors, because of attenuation and scattering, GPS falls apart. And even outdoors, GPS is vertically challenged; it’s about one-third as accurate at pinpointing your elevation as it is at telling where you are on the ground. In other words, even if you do get a signal inside, it’s unlikely that GPS will have any idea whether you’re trying to navigate the first, second, or third floor of your local shopping mall. 


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How Nanotech Can Foil Counterfeiters

These tiny mechanical ID tags are unclonable, cheap, and invisible

10 min read
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University of Florida
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What's the largest criminal enterprise in the world? Narcotics? Gambling? Human trafficking?

Nope. The biggest racket is the production and trade of counterfeit goods, which is expected to exceed US $1 trillion next year. You've probably suffered from it more than once yourself, purchasing on Amazon or eBay what you thought was a brand-name item only to discover that it was an inferior-quality counterfeit.

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