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Nokia sidles up to Qualcomm, hands over bulging map package

IZat a bunch of floorplans in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

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Nokia Here will be sharing its global floorplan database with Qualcomm, putting indoor maps together with indoor positioning in an assault on the last place one can get lost.

Here is Nokia's mapping division. It has accumulated a huge database of airports, museums and venues which it will share with Qualcomm in the new deal. Between the two companies it should be possible to create an indoor mapping system just as useful as satellite navigation is outside.

Indoor navigation faces two big challenges: finding out where one is when the satellites are beyond reach, and knowing where one wants to be given the lack of mapping data.

Nokia has internal maps of more than 50,000 buildings across 9,000 venues in 69 countries, while Qualcomm's IZat (check no-one is nearby, put on your best urban street accent and say it out loud: "eye-sat") uses special fingerprinting to get a location within a few meters.

“Special fingerprinting” just means checking the signal strength of nearby Wi-Fi and cellular hotspots, then comparing that pattern to a database which can provide accuracy within a few metres without additional infrastructure. It needs constant calibration to allow for changes, but the IZat platform can do that in the cloud - so every user is also contributing to the database.

Google is also pushing into buildings and asking venue owners to contribute their own floorplans to Google Maps. So far that effort has only produced 10,000 building plans, so Google has some catching up to do.

Given the search giant's previous approach to mapping, we're expecting the Street View Guys to be wandering through the office any day now. ®

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