Apple has purchased a small startup called WiFiSLAM, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The two-year-old company specializes in indoor mapping, which is something Google has already been doing with Google Maps for some time.
Since Apple debuted its own mapping technology in iOS 6, it’s been working to bring its service up to par with Google Maps. WiFiSLAM’s expertise could very well be used to improve Apple Maps, and the acquisition also bodes well for another Apple service, Passbook.
Apple paid around $20 million for the Palo Alto-based startup, reports the Journal. It’s a pretty small company with four founders, and two employees come from Google. WiFiSLAM specializes in location-based services and indoor positioning, according to its website:
Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.
We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking.
Sounds like something that will not only help Apple do indoor mapping, but also enhance Passbook. “Retail customer engagement” is something that Passbook desperately needs right now. If WiFiSLAM can locate a mobile device using only WiFi signals inside a building, retailers could use that data to send relevant information to Passbook. Deals, coupons, and reminders could be sent to your iPhone as you shop inside a store.
Source: The Wall Street Journal