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Apple Acquires Indoor Mobile Location Positioning Firm WifiSLAM for $20 Million

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has acquired indoor location company WifiSLAM, paying around $20 million for the firm. Apple has confirmed the purchase, but declined to offer any details on its plans for the acquisition.
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.
Apple has been beefing up its location expertise over the past several years through acquisitions, including small firms such as Placebase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies. With its purchase of WifiSLAM, Apple seems to be adding a new focus on indoor location tracking.

The cornerstone of Apple's mapping effort so far has been its Maps app in iOS 6, which replaced Google as the default mapping application on iOS devices. Apple's Maps app has, however, suffered from significant criticism and the company has been working hard to improve its mapping products.

Article Link: Apple Acquires Indoor Mobile Location Positioning Firm WifiSLAM for $20 Million
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,659
4,948
Would be an excellent addition to Maps and location services in general if your iDevice can figure out its exact location in Airport, shopping centers, large office buildings, parking garages, where GPS is not available.
 
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SSD-GUY

macrumors 65816
Sep 20, 2012
1,111
2,020
Interstellar
Wasn't Google doing the same kinda thing some time ago where they took streetview inside restaurants, museums etc?
 
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gmanist1000

macrumors 68030
Sep 22, 2009
2,694
307
Google has a lot of universities, malls, etc. mapped out already.

If Apple can add this to Maps, it would be a nice addition. Who knows how long it would take though.
 
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ck2875

macrumors 6502a
Mar 25, 2009
999
2,628
Brighton
A benefit this could provide to Apple's location services (in their current state) is to more accurately determine when to pull up Passbook info badges on the lock screen.
 
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Squilly

macrumors 68020
Nov 17, 2012
2,260
4
PA
Sounds like Google's plan with their Glass project (navigating buildings indoors).
 
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newagemac

macrumors 68020
Mar 31, 2010
2,091
23
It's about time Apple start using it's cash for something worthwhile. There are all sorts of companies like this Apple could be buying for the technology and expertise.

Google's almost entire business is made up of purchases of other companies and they rarely do anything innovative themselves. Other than search, it's mostly been about buying up other people's companies and claiming it for themselves.. Youtube, Android, Applied Semantics (Adsense and Adwords), Picasa, DoubleClick, GrandCentral, Motorola, Admob, Picnik, SageTV, Sparrow, etc.

The list goes on and on...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Google

In fact, Google has been acquiring on average more than one company a week since 2010!


Apple themselves are far more innovative than a company like Google who just buys up other companies but they need to understand they can't do everything alone. There are hundreds of little small companies that come up with interesting new ideas and takes on things. Getting access to the brilliant people in them is probably more important than anything else.
 
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samcraig

macrumors P6
Jun 22, 2009
16,637
41,615
USA
I would bet this will be coupled with passbook. And also, perhaps, their mapping app.
 
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simon48

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2010
1,315
88
It's about time Apple start using it's cash for something worthwhile. There are all sorts of companies like this Apple could be buying for the technology and expertise.

Google's almost entire business is made up of purchases of other companies and they rarely do anything innovative themselves. Other than search, it's mostly been about buying up other people's companies and claiming it for themselves.. Youtube, Android, Applied Semantics (Adsense and Adwords), Picasa, DoubleClick, GrandCentral, Motorola, Admob, Picnik, SageTV, Sparrow, etc.

The list goes on and on...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Google


Apple is far more innovative than a company like Google who just buys up other companies but they need to understand they can't do everything alone. There are hundreds of little small companies that come up with interesting new ideas and takes on things. Getting access to the brilliant people in them is probably more important than anything else.


Apple has bought a lot of companies themselves too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

But nowhere near as many as Google.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,067
5,000
With crowdsourcing, they could pretty quickly get maps for a lot of buildings that are easy to get lost in... Large hotels, office buildings, schools, airports, malls...

Since it uses wifi signals, I wonder if it would also work on cruise lines?
 
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burtba

macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2008
135
28
It's about time Apple start using it's cash for something worthwhile. There are all sorts of companies like this Apple could be buying for the technology and expertise.

?? Dude, Apple have been doing this for years, where have you been. We have been using MANY technologies in our iDevices that were acquisitions by Apple. Stacks.

Unfortunately Apple are very slow at implementing their acquisitions. Possibly some are just to remove that technology from the market place?
 
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MasterHowl

macrumors 65816
Oct 3, 2010
1,024
55
North of England
Google has a lot of universities, malls, etc. mapped out already.

If Apple can add this to Maps, it would be a nice addition. Who knows how long it would take though.

They could speed this up massively by allowing users to help give them info.

Eg: I could map out 5 buildings per day on my university campus (largest one in the UK, University of Manchester) but it would take forever for Apple to do it themselves.

If multiple users map out the same building, Apple could just cross check the "results" to see if they match up or something.
 
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AllieNeko

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,004
57
?? Dude, Apple have been doing this for years, where have you been. We have been using MANY technologies in our iDevices that were acquisitions by Apple. Stacks.

Unfortunately Apple are very slow at implementing their acquisitions. Possibly some are just to remove that technology from the market place?

Absolutely, Apple acquires a lot of companies for the sole purpose of burying their inventions.
 
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jaymzuk

macrumors regular
Jun 1, 2012
221
45
Wasn't Google doing the same kinda thing some time ago where they took streetview inside restaurants, museums etc?

Yeah, but it doesn't count because Apple take something and make it better, whereas Google copy something and just use it to collect your data. Apple won't collect your data at all, because that's not their business*

*Unless you count iAds, in which case it kinda is their business.
 
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newagemac

macrumors 68020
Mar 31, 2010
2,091
23
Absolutely, Apple acquires a lot of companies for the sole purpose of burying their inventions.

The number of companies Apple has bought doesn't come anywhere close to the number of companies Google has bought up. Why don't you compare the two?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Google

And Apple has been in business since the 1970's while Google didn't start until 1998 and didn't become a public company until 2004. :eek: Just face it, Google is an ad company who is pretty clueless when it comes to innovation. They're pretty good at buying up other innovative companies though.

You don't work for Google I suppose so that's nothing for you to be ashamed about. And there's nothing wrong with being an ad/marketing/PR company like Google is. Somebody has to do it and they are very good at it.
 
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petsounds

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,483
497
Fantastic news. I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to buy them. The beauty of this vs. Google's indoor maps is that Apple will be able to integrate this tech into iOS and send indoor map data to its servers, quickly amassing maps for most popular buildings around the world.
 
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mrtravel123

macrumors regular
Aug 9, 2007
198
2
Home automation is getting that much closer in my opinion. This type of acquisition could help with that immensely.

Consider your "i" devices (watch, phone) having the ability to control parts of your home.... and your home knowing where you are at.

Sounds like it could lead to something like what Bill Gates apparently has in his house: home automation where your home knows your preferences, where you are, what doors need to be unlocked, lights, heat, etc.

My guess is that Apple is looking at the very big picture when it comes to "i" devices being integrated into our entire lives, including just about everything electronic and electric in our houses.
 
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osaga

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
454
170
You approach the front door, it opens. Walk inside, living room lights come on, heat comes on. Stand in front of the tv, your email, macrumors, facebook, and favorite tv content appear. Stand in front of the toilet, seat pops up.
 
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SgtPepper12

macrumors 6502a
Feb 1, 2011
678
613
Germany
And Apple has been in business since the 1970's while Google didn't start until 1998 and didn't become a public company until 2004. :eek: Just face it, Google is an ad company who is pretty clueless when it comes to innovation. They're pretty good at buying up other innovative companies though
I think your concept of "innovation" is flawed.
 
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alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,688
170
american museum of natural history is doing this

for the last few years the iOS app will work with the museum wifi to tell you where you are in the building and provide directions to other exhibits
 
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