Apple has acquired WiFiSLAM in a deal worth $20 million. The company specializes in extending location data and positioning for indoor locations through the use of WiFi triangulation. The platform is seen as a supplement for data location data when GPS information is not available.
The move will allow Apple to more closely compete with Google’s “Indoor Maps” project, a system that uses crowdsourced data for indoor locations.
Google’s “Indoor Maps” platform is currently limited to large scale locations such as airports, stadiums, and shopping centers.
The WifiSLAM system is accurate to within 2.5 meters (approximately 8 feet) and provides step-by-step navigation that is proximity-based for finding friends on social networks.
Apple has confirmed the deal and says it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.” Further information has not yet been made available.
The team behind WifiSLAM originally developed the platform for licensing purposes. The hope was that developers, social networks, and advertisers would utilize WifiSLAM technology to target customers based on location based services.
WifiSLAM was staffed by a handful of employees including former Google employees Joseph Huang and former Google engineer Darin Tay.
WiFiSLAM was an investment of Sky Dayton (Earthlink founder) and angel investor Don Dodge (also formerly of Google), among others.
After its miserable launch of Apple Maps, CEO Tim Cook promised a better, more advanced product in the next release. It appears that his promise is coming to fruition through talent grabs and product acquisitions.
Apple appears to be doing something right with its mapping software. The company recently beat Google Maps in a driving test and the tide of negative reviews appears to be turning.
In the meantime, Google Maps for iOS now offers voice based driving directions, better 3D views, and other features meant to keep Google Maps customers happy on their iOS based smartphones and tablets.
Do you think Apple Maps can still compete with Google’s beloved mapping software?