2024 – A turn in the road for Positioning Intelligence

Albert Baker
Albert Baker

Chief Operations Officer

Just back from Mobile World Congress over 3 weeks ago and I am still ingesting the momentum I picked up on how all things location and navigation are moving forward – indeed accelerating in terms of adoption and market absorption.  This can be no more captured than the imminent release to the public of the Apple Vision Pro, though priced at the very upper end, will again be a category defining event we will look in the rear-view mirror in two or three years’ time as the event to herald in pervasive computing and spatial interaction.

The road to this point has been full of potholes, bends, dead-ends lightly trodden boreen’s – as we say in Ireland – for all things location based services based.  Sure there are better walked paths – such as industrial Real Time Location Systems – but there are no dual carriage ways or motorways in that sector when it comes to positioning  – well at least to date.

So why 2024? It comes down to WiFi to lead the way … again.  Although many other radio systems, or indeed non radio based technologies, are being deployed in measured volumes into certain verticals – UltraWideband (UWB) and Bluetooth (BLE) Low Energy etc. – and even though they have got significant energy or accuracies advantages, they have been unable to develop or align to an eco-system that can effectively exploit these.   

Looking into the rear view mirror –   UWB has a strong pull and resonance for a range of proximity and association lead Uses for access control, payments and authentication etc.  and has growing penetration in the SmartPhone (approx. 70%% of all UWB shipments)  for these but to effectively leverage its capability there is a large infrastructure deficit that needs to be addressed.  This is necessary but not sufficient to really create a motorway for positioning intelligence. 

Meanwhile Wi-Fi is gearing up – finally –  to start this large build out of capability.  Fundamentally Wi-Fi has a large, sophisticated, and mature cloud software ecosystem that has fuelled and accelerated the attach rate of many new Wi-Fi radio generations, by making the services built on these systems being able to be deployed at scale and at increasingly faster rates, with more sophisticated features & functions.  Remember, the large OEMs (Smartphone) and cloud service companies (FANG) will only adopt a technology that is able to scale to 1B+ devices and which largely aligns with the current Enterprise IT deployment model.   

In order to do this, Wi-Fi has accelerated its standardisation efforts for location/positioning, whilst getting the necessary chip level capabilities, all driven by the need for increased broadband bandwidths, to deliver indoor Use Case accuracy and scale requirements.  However, I contend that although it has market and scale might, it will need some of the specific nuances and foundational principles that other radios possess that it cannot replicate easily – if at all.  UWB and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) are two such radio systems.

There is much more to dig into to do justice to this topic, which will be featured in upcoming topics, but I do believe 2024 is at a turning point for positioning intelligence and all things location based. 

Meet the Author

David McDonald

David McDonald

30+ year technology and innovation leader (Intune)

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