Wifarer Begins Rollout of Indoor Navigation Apps for Venues

The market for indoor positioning is starting to come into focus. Google, Bing and companies such as Point Inside and Aisle411 are calling attention to the benefits of indoor navigation — Google in particular, with its massive presence and visibility. You can also add to that group Wifarer, whose tagline is “browse the real world.”

While Google and Bing don’t yet have a business model associated with indoor positioning, although we can assume it will be advertising eventually, Point Inside and Aisle411 are doing some form of advertising or promotions. But real money isn’t quite there (and might not be there for some time). Wifarer has a more diversified model, however, with near term revenue coming from venue-based licensing.

The company anticipates that sponsorships and advertising will play a larger role in the future.

Accurate to three meters, Wifarer is a “software only” solution that doesn’t require venues to deploy hardware, sensors or boxes of any kind on the premises. The company is targeting airports, malls, universities, convention centers, museums and other larger indoor venues for deployment.

The first Wifarer deployment is at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC, Canada. It’s also in place at the Vancouver BC airport. I’m told more announcements are coming.

In the┬áRoyal BC Museum version of the app (see second video below) the museum can offer maps and exhibit content. Indeed it has total control over the content through Wifarer’s content management system. The company says its CMS is one of its key differentiators.

If desired venues can use Wifarer as a substitute for QR codes in most cases or augmented reality, which has limited adoption anyway.

Although the first commercial deployments are just now starting to appear, Wifarer has been around since 2010 refining its approach. What is somewhat paradoxical or contradictory is the fact that all of these deployments run off the single Wifarer app and rely on its large-scale adoption.

Prompted by the venue, consumers download Wifarer. In specific places the app changes to reflect the branding and content of the particular venue. CEO Philip Stanger told me that his experience and research showed that people didn’t want to download venue specific apps — though that’s essentially what they’re doing with Wifarer.

An early LBS app called Geodelic took a similar approach, offering a single app that dynamically changed when in different venues. However the company shut down earlier this year, presumably because it ran out of money or couldn’t raise additional funding. (I’m not sure whether its assets were sold.)

Below is an early demo of Wifarer in a shopping mall environment. The second video below is the more recent deployment in the Royal BC Museum.

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