ByteLight Grabs $1.25 Million for 'GPS-like' Indoor Positioning System

By Peter Bernstein October 18, 2012

For those who are ‘locationally’ challenged, GPS, especially when navigation is included, has been a godsend. But that is for when you are outdoors. What is a lost soul to do when inside? The good news is that help is on the way.

Coming out of stealth mode, Cambridge, MA-based start-up ByteLight, a provider of LED (light-emitting diode) based indoor positioning technology, announced it has received $1.25 million in funding from individual and institutional investors, led by VantagePoint Capital Partners.  As can be seen from the announcement of the funding, the company is ecstatic.

Aaron Ganick, CEO and co-founder of ByteLight  stated that, “Accurate indoor positioning has been described as the ‘holy grail’ of location-based services…We provide an enabling, breakthrough technology for the emerging field of indoor-location applications and analytics. Our platform makes it easy for shoppers to navigate retail stores and find products, manages and optimizes enterprise employee operations, turns mobile devices into tour guides within a museum or public building, and helps people find colleagues and booths while attending trade shows or other events – the applications for this technology are truly endless.”

How it works

Putting the usual hyperbole aside, this is clearly something new and different and opens up new vistas on what has been a challenge in the location-based services, particularly for places like big box stores. The solution works as follows by turning LED light sources into positioning beacons:

  •  “ByteLight-enabled” lights transmit proprietary signals which can be picked up by camera-equipped mobile devices.
  • Once signals are detected, the device then calculates its position without the need for an active network connection.
  • The technology delivers sub-meter accuracy, is extremely responsive when compared to other indoor positioning solutions and works on existing smartphones.

ByteLight is accurate to less than one meter and takes less than a second to compute. And, it comes with tools to provide location-based digital content, analyze traffic patterns and measure engagement.


What’s next?

The next phase for the start-up is to get the product into the market. ByteLight is partnering with innovative LED lighting manufacturers to incorporate its technology into their lighting products. ByteLight will use the funding to build its team, deploy at pilot locations and expand its ecosystem of lighting partners.

The company believes target markets include commercial and enterprise building owners, public safety officials, retail outlets and public spaces such as airports, museums and convention centers who will be able to use very precise location info for the delivery of all kinds of information. What they did not mention is such applications as inventory management in large warehouses, or even use for tracking of individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. As I stated above, the utility opens up a realm of potential uses that go well beyond what we have become used to with other location-based services.

Industry expert Michael Boland, mobile analyst with BIA/Kelsey said, “In the evolution of mapping and navigation, indoors is the next frontier.”

I am not sure about the great indoors being a frontier. What I am sure of is that I look forward to the day when finding my way around the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, NJ is a lot easier. It is a really big place with lots of LED lighting. The real frontier there is finding your car. An app that integrates indoor and outdoor location capabilities hopefully will be soon to follow.  

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