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back to article Apple buys indoor mapper WiFiSLAM

Apple has acquired mapping company WiFiSLAM, in a move one hopes can only improve the quality of its inaccurate and oft-derided maps service. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, by the sum of $US20m is getting plenty of airtime. So is the acquired company's ability to help Apple create indoor maps, as an AngelList …

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Silver badge
FAIL

They've bought mappers before ...

and all they have achieved is to be the laughing stock of mobile maps.

I wonder even if they bother to do due diligence?

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Silver badge

Re: They've bought mappers before ...

Thought they might have wanted to develop this IN HOUSE.

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Anonymous Coward

WIFISLAM

"Use your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings." - from their site

This will be neat as often when you lose your wife around some big department store or shopping centre you'll be able to pin-point them down - saves on the phone call with the obligatory "where are you?"

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Coat

Re: WIFISLAM

There should a separate app for that. They could call it Wife-Eye.

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FAIL

More Google catchup.

in 2018 they may be where Google is today with mapping. But where will Google be by then???

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Trollface

Apple maps, with WiFiSLAM. Now you can get lost in your own home!

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Joke

This would be seriously useful to me...

I could get my phone to remind me why I came into this room!

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WTF?

Huh?

"Apple has acquired mapping company WiFiSLAM, in a move one hopes can only improve the quality of its inaccurate and oft-derided maps service."

The inaccuracies in Apple's Maps are all outdoors and are due to bad, unchecked mapping data from widely varying quality sources. Knowing where you are more accurately indoors will not change that bad data at all.

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Re: Huh?

quite, the author is comparing apples and oranges whilst desperately looking for an el-reg headline.

This is about dealing with lack of GPS signal when indoors: using WiFi detection approaches in a smarter way.

It's got nothing to do with gazetteer data (which Google has also taken from third-party companies too. The Thompson and Yell data was always woeful and poor. Apple seems to have an on-going problem with how Yelp's data maps to real locations - I'm guessing something is trying to map based upon the postcode, but in some cases it seems to be a consistent offset error.)

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FAIL

Better idea

What they ought to do is just go back to using Google Maps. Seriously, Apple: you suck at this and Google is good at it.

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Gold badge

Re: Better idea

Which is what people would have said when the service from Google originally launched. "You suck google, just use Ordnance Survey data".

Any service which relies on good data will take time to resolve.

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Silver badge
Pint

2.5m off

This will enable iUsers to find the bathroom in their own homes but they will end up pissing in the sink.

<=== beer, for obvious reasons

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Happy

I hope Apple patent it!

If Apple actually patents this and the patent is valid, this will mean that I will not have to turn off my WiFi when I go shopping.

Like most smartphone users, my current smartphone is not an iPhone and the next one won't be either. Apple will look after their "intellectual property" that they did not develop. This will keep everyone else safe from yet another user tracking method.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I hope Apple patent it!

Like most smart phone-users, my phone is not a smart phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I hope Apple patent it!

"Like most smart phone-users, my phone is not a smart phone."

That synaptic misfire assumes that your oh so shitty iPhone IS a smartphone?

Sorry to tell you this, I realise that you are blinkered by the size of Apple's cock, but the competition, you know, those who actually innovate and don't just buy someone else’s solution?, they have released smartphones which not only work well but offer many more features, not just last decades tech polished to look good.

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Anonymous Coward

Where's the hardware live?

Where does the hardware that does this localization live? Is it an addition to the WiFi hardware in the phone, or is this an addition to the WiFi hardware in the base stations? Because I have serious doubts this is just a handy-dandy bolt-on piece of software you can load into the phone.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Where's the hardware live?

Its data based. It will work off the signal strengths of the WiFi hotspots around you and perform some sort of triangulation to get a fix on you. No additional hardware necessary.

Its not too much of a leap if you look at it. Assisted GPS, which takes account of cell and WiFi data, is already used to improve the quality of GPS results. The data collection will be augmented by active phones reporting WiFi signal strength home, providing you've told your phone to send anonymised data back to Apple. It looks as though Apple have looked at the approach, and possibly patents, produced by WiFiSLAM and decided it was worth a punt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Where's the hardware live?

So basically using WiFi etc it does the same inside a building as Google Maps for Mobile has been doing outside for years (and as Skyhook Wireless did before Google)?

Anyway, why's it not spelt w_If_Islam ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Where's the hardware live?

If it is based on signal strength, and not time-of-flight, it will fun to watch all the errors induced by the

a) crap RSSI indicators in most WiFi chips

b) Random variations due to all the RF-absorbing bags of dirty water moving around (including the bag of dirty water carrying the phone).

c) Crap RF leveling in the WiFi terminals themselves.

And you aren't doing time-of-flight in software only, you need hardware to timestamp the packets reliably.

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Silver badge
Coat

This is a wet dream...

... for marketing guys and stalkers. Not sure of which group is the worst, though.

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Anonymous Coward

"to add indoor maps to Apple's app, which will mean it's on par with Google"

Oh Apple are always copying someone. Will they ever innovate? Their worse than samsung.

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Silver badge

I thought this was originally planned to be used to provide indoor GPS in shopping malls and such.

This has the *potential* to make things really easy to find in larger malls, but it also smells like an opportunity to flog off an app rather than web interface, thus has the abilty to monitor your every movement within the mall - very valuable for them.

Unless their marketing departments worked out that no-one is actually interested in shopping past the few vendors that any particular customer sees, so now they've just sold out to whoever is interested in buying.

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