Apple buys indoor location startup WifiSLAM for $20 million

Apple buys indoor location startup WifiSLAM for $20 million

$20 million has bought Apple WifiSLAM, a startup specializing in indoor location mapping. Apple confirmed the sale, but wouldn't discuss specifics or future plans. Jessica E. Lessin of the Wall Street Journal reports:

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.

Their website, wifislam.com, is already down. Their YouTube account, which contains several demo videos, remains up, as does their Twitter account, though neither has been updated recently.

Apple has acquired numerous mapping-related companies over the years, including Placebase, Poly9, and C3 technologies, and used them to create features like Flyover in iOS 6 Maps. Presumably Apple will keep updating their new Maps app, both as part of iOS 7 and iOS 8, and hopefully one day de-coupled from the main firmware distribution as well. What, if any, role WifiSLAM technology will play in that future remains unknown.

I'd settle for it being able to help me get out of CES alive. You?

Source: Wall Street Journal

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 32 comments. Add yours.

shinuyuki says:

God damn that looks awesome! I can seem them improving the speed to 30 seconds or lower as technology improves. This is going to be a major thing in the future for emergency situations.

asuperstarr says:

So many possibilities. This is great!

BrianTufo says:

Nice! It will be interesting to see how and when they add this into their maps app and maybe other apps.

Enzo83 says:

I would have never even thought about the use of an app that can tell what building I am in and where I should go. Definitely a winner and most useful app ever, other than gps, especially for those who are starting a job, college, airport or anywhere to get around inside a building. This would so be useful for me as I don't like to ask people where to go since I have a short term memory anyway and I love people....

metllicamilitia says:

The YouTube page is now down so I didn't get the see the video, but it sounds quite interesting and I see Apple integrating it into maps and using it to get to the front door of shops in malls and things like that.

ame says:

LOVE this. Great acquisition for Apple. Good for places like huge malls, and ridiculous buildings like the fortress my old office was in.

ZkiZZoiD says:

This is Apple for you. Way to go!

vianar says:

Interesting. However, they had to walk the hall to config the WiFi location. Now I can see apple incorporating building floor plans in maps but I don't see them walking every building to config and repeating it every time the router is changed. Maybe airports and tourist locations but other than that it would be too hard to maintain so it will be buggy and yet another thing Apple haters will have to complain about. I look forward to Apple proving me wrong.

PassOutPete says:

Finally! A mall directory in my pocket! What's next??? Disney? Universal?

samsin92 says:

It's a great technology. But what's the use if it would be available only in a select few countries and not everywhere.

ljpuk says:

Good to see Apple buying an interesting startup, looks a great idea.

lyle0209 says:

yeah, and they got the company for dirt cheap now a days.

chrishull says:

I wonder, will the app have a "find nearest restroom" button? That would be of immeasurable value sometimes...

kremsku says:

Would be a massive hit in malls and theme parks!

Also, "find my girlfriend/wife/kids/husband" when you're in a supermarket would be fantastic. No need to call all the time.

wscotchmer says:

Social mapping of the interior of buildings. First street view... now building view?

Pontavignon says:

More useful for geofencing reminders than for maps initially, I would guess. The precision of geofencing would allow, for example, reminders as you leave your office on your way down the hall to a boardroom for a presentation. Greater precision for finding devices and people too, particularly if location info can be shared via tweets, emails, messages, etc. Maps could be phase two.

DikaiaKnight says:

Excited to see what comes of this!

AdrianGabeChen says:

if apple implements this it's going to be great. imagine you're at a big conference and you want to know where a panel is

mobilemaduk says:

Would love this feature on apple maps. Still using google maps here at moment due to inaccuracies in my area

Jeules83 says:

I can't wait for what Apple has in store for us...

rbiro says:

Interesting way to improve location services such as passport or possibly reminders.
My dream is to extend the calendar location field so I can find the meeting room in the office.

dennisuci says:

This will be really interesting if they incorporate it into Find My iPhone or find my friends. It helps to be able to pinpoint your friends or loved ones in the mall, etc.

ht5q says:

Another good purchase for Apple. Much smarter to buy small start-ups than a large Skype or Motorola Mobility type of acquisition.

tazgolf says:

Look forward to seeing this in action

1snow says:

Wonder If they will use it to get a great find other friends or find my friends. It will be interesting.

Andrew Lima says:

I can see a future in this for Apple, for sure!

tibbi64 says:

I wish so bad that Apple would have their own affordable unlimited data package. So you can have data only, and maybe they could buy Skype or Netflix and have it built into the data plan. No need to go to those greedy phone companies. If Google beats Apple at this I will switch so fast, even though I love iOS.

ademiroglu says:

Could Apple use this technology in the iWatch?!?! A faster and easier way to find a friend in a building like Find My Friends? I hope so! It'd be pretty cool!

Jason Ling says:

Great..! Apple is slowly upgrading their map.

irepairhrvatska says:

Well not sure to think about this. From one view I can say its and interesting technology with a lot of possible uses, like when you need to repair sometuing you can view where the instalations are. But on the second hand, I'm not sure how will it look when people start using their phone to navigate in buildings. I mean people will start bumping in each other, and even I see a possibility that some will use it so often that they will be lost if their battery dies. lol

linsiris says:

This is looking great, specially if you need to get out of a crowded place, or a building you are not familiar with! I'd love to see this in iOS soon.

phillip_u says:

Interesting move. Obviously they're willing to try to take Google to the floor. It remains to be seen if Apple is capable of being able to move as quickly as Google in this space. The idea of having indoor maps for both permanent attractions and traveling/temporary shows is compelling. Definitely a win for the consumer if the data is high quality. But I just drove down a three year old road yesterday that Apple maps is missing but Google isn't.