Mobile Devices

March 26, 2013

Apple Buys Indoor GPS Mapping Company WiFiSLAM

Apple has reportedly made an interesting new acquisition, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company is paying $20 million for indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM, which should put an interesting twist on the increasingly hot indoor mobile location services marketplace. WifiSLAM is based in Silicon Valley.

So what is indoor GPS? There is much media speculation about the exact nature of WifiSLAM’s business, since the company took its website down as soon as the acquisition was announced. The Next Web has posted a video of a WifiSLAM business presentation which helps clear up some details.

Many companies, Apple and Google included, monitor and track users via both Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers. It’s a way of telling which users are where and using the information to improve services. (If you’re a privacy buff, this probably creeps you out, though the companies performing this triangulation or trilateration assure us the data remains anonymous, that it’s only for an overall picture of customer habits.)

WiFiSLAM’s system uses a handful of technologies including Wi-Fi signals, GPS and more to craft more accurate positions and maps, especially when users are indoors, according to the Next Web.

Neither Apple nor WiFiSLAM are speaking much about the deal, aside from an Apple confirmation from a spokesperson. WiFiSLAM has only a few employees, and its founder, Joseph Huang, is a former Google software engineer, according to the WSJ.

Apple’s own mapping service has been criticized as poor quality in comparison to Google’s, and the company has been seeking to turn this around, which may explain the purchase of WiFiSLAM.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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