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Nokia works on Bluetooth, indoor navigation combo

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bluetooth 4.0? indoor navigation? Location Extension protocol?

Nokia Research is expanding Bluetooth as part of an initiative on indoor location-based services. The company is currently looking for partners as it aims to leverage its handset and mapping products to enable a wide range of services including indoor navigation and retail analytics.

"We want to take what's been done in navigation outdoors and bring it inside," said Fabio Belloni, a principal researcher in Nokia's radio systems lab that looks for new ways to use networks.

Nokia has two pilots using a new Bluetooth protocol in the works and has reached out to as many as 30 companies in an effort to set broader standards that ultimately may include WiFi and other networks.

The company is leading work on a new Location Extension protocol to ride on top of Bluetooth 4.0. It could be issued as a standard by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group in about 18 months.

Fabio Belloni

Belloni (left) demonstrated an indoor navigation system using a prototype Bluetooth tag (upper right) and Bluetooth antenna array (lower right).

Nokia designed a prototype based on a room outfitted with Bluetooth Low Energy antenna arrays that track devices with Bluetooth tags. The prototype uses triangulation to create 3D maps of a room.

Researchers envision equipping malls, exhibit halls and other large buildings with the antenna arrays to help people navigate through them. They also foresee large stores using tagged carts to track and study shopper behavior.

The Bluetooth arrays could be inexpensive, and ultimately they could be integrated as a feature into WiFi access points the buildings already use, said Belloni.

Nokia gathered about 30 companies, including chip and system makers and service providers, to an event to roll out its concepts. It hopes to create a formal group that could help set global standards for such indoor navigation services.

The demo was one of several marking the 25th anniversary of the Nokia Research, which is now setting up a new satellite office. Another demo showed a flexible handheld OLED display users could bend to navigate through computer menus.

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