Q&A with CSR About Indoor Location Android SDK

British semiconductor vendor CSR announced two weeks ago (read here) the upcoming availability of an indoor location technology SDK for the Android platform. GPS Business News spoke to CSR’s Product Line Director Dave Huntingford to learn more.

GPS Business News: You have announced for the first quarter of 2015 an Android SDK with indoor location, can you give us an overview of this product?

Dave Huntingford: Let me give you a bit of background first. As you probably know, back in 2009 CSR acquired SiRF the leader in GPS chipsets. Already at that time we knew that the challenge in the future would be to bring this precise location experience from the outdoor to indoor.

So we started investing in pedestrian dead reckoning, trying to count steps and heading based on sensors. But on its own this was not sufficient, after half an hour or an hour indoor true location drift was so big that it was not usable.

So we went back to the drawingboard and we started looking at a fusion system that would bring together GPS, WiFi geolocation, and inertial sensors. This is how we came up with SiRFusion that we are announcing now.

SirFusion is an SDK for the Android operating system that allows developers to integrate indoor location in their applications. The SDK uses standard Android APIs for WiFi, MEMS inertial sensors data and GPS. It updates and queries our database of Wi-Fi signals in the cloud. This integrates a crowdsourcing approach where each device in the field gather data for our database that is then used by all SDK users.

In addition to that we will be able to augment the capabilities of the SDK in the future, for example adding the location of Bluetooth beacons.

GPS BN: What about the accuracy?

DH: this is typically 5 meter of accuracy, but it is often better if there is a good WiFi coverage.

GPS BN: When is it going to be available?

DH: We are targeting the middle of the first quarter for a deployable SDK, after having demonstrated the technology at the CES trade show early January in Las Vegas.

GPS BN: What about the coverage of your database at launch?

DH: To be honest at start the database will be fairly empty, apart from the places where we have been doing real world tests. We will start from scratch, but we might find a partner that can help fueling this database.

GPS BN: And what about power consumption?

DH: There is no question that the multiple sensors we use through the SDK are consuming power. This is why the SDK only locates the device when the app is on and the screen is on. However in the longer term we are obviously looking at offering this technology embedded in a chipset-based solution. This obviously will be much more power efficient.

GPS BN: Do you expect to have a SDK for iPhone at a later stage?

DH: As you might know, unfortunately iOS does not give developers access to WiFi signal strength data, so without that we cannot offer a good location.


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