The race for improved indoor navigation goes on, MacRumors informs us that Apple Acquires Indoor Mobile Location Positioning Firm WifiSLAM.
From the Wall Street Journal: "The two-year-old startup has developed ways for mobile apps to detect a phone user’s location in a building using Wi-Fi signals. It has been offering the technology to application developers for indoor mapping and new types of retail and social networking apps. The company has a handful of employees, and its co-founders include former Google software engineering intern Joseph Huang. [...] Google already offers indoor mapping in certain locations like airports, shopping centers and sports venues."
That's the name of a story discussed over Slashdot Have a Wi-Fi-Enabled Phone? Stores Are Tracking You. This topic has been covered quite a few times, last occurrence was 5 days ago.
Their summary: "Call it Google Analytics for physical storefronts: if you've got a phone with wi-fi, stores can detect your MAC address and track your comings and goings, determining which aisles you go to and whether you're a repeat customer. The creator of one of the most popular tracking software packages says that the addresses are hashed and not personally identifiable, but it might make you think twice about leaving your phone on when you head to the mall."
Their summary: "For several years the U.S. Air Force has used WiFi-router-sized boxes on a New Mexico missile range to create a GPS-like service to track munitions to the nearest inch. Now the Australian company behind the technology is rolling it out for civilians. One gold mine is already using the tech and specifications are being released so that GPS receiver manufacturers can adopt the technology. Locata hopes that construction sites, factories and city governments will all want to install their own high accuracy 'location hotspots.'"
This story was discussed yesterday over Slashdot: Microsoft Releases Mobile Data Collection Source Code.
Their summary: "To avoid the problems that Google and Apple have had with collecting WiFi data and privacy issues Microsoft has just released [some of] the source code used in its mobile data collection system. The code shows how the phones that it drives around don't collect any personal data — just WiFi and cell tower identification so that they can be used in geolocation. The source code is a great educational resouce but as to proving that Microsoft is doing the right thing it just doesn't work. First off, it isn't complete. Second, who is to say that it is the code used in the phones? That's the point of software — it's easy to change. Now if only we can provoke them to release large chunks of Windows or Windows Phone 7...."
The second discussion over Slashdot this weekend was named Researchers Track Cell Phones Indoors By Listening In.
Their summary: "Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan have developed a technique which aims to extend the reach of mobile phone location tracking. Their free iPhone app, Batphone, extracts a location 'fingerprint' from a short recording of ambient sound. This software-only approach allows the device to determine its location with high accuracy using its built-in microphone. Unlike prior indoor tracking techniques, Batphone does not rely on the presence of Wi-Fi access points to serve as landmarks, although these can be used to assist the system when available. They also posted a web game which allows you to test your own ability to recognize rooms by listening. Technical details are in a paper which was presented at the MobiSys conference on Thursday. This is from the same people who brought you laptop sonar."
Here's the geonews in batch mode, covering a bit more than a week (exception made of a few minor geonews I forgot to mention in our last 'batch mode' edition).
On the open source / data front:
On the Google front:
On the Microsoft front:
In the miscellaneous category:
In the maps category:
Via Kurt, I learned about openBmap.org, a free and open map of wireless communicating objects.
From the website: "openBmap is a free and open map of wireless communicating objects (e.g. cellular antenna, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth). It provides tools to mutualize data, create and access this map.
Help us build a free database! Open source logging applications are available for Android2 phones, WindowsPhone6 and the openmoko freerunner freesmartphone.org phones."
The database currently contains for cellular objects: "169 countries, 578 mobile networks, 34,961 location area codes, 706,606 cells (which 218,727 are trusted)"