Where does the Internet of Things (IoT) begin? It begins with sensors that relay small bytes of data with contextual awareness. Movea is a company developing technology for motion sensing and Tim Kelliher, the company’s customer solutions architect explains its solutions for indoor positioning in this interview by Directions Magazine’s editor in chief Joe Francica.
Directions Magazine (DM): Movea is developing technology for motion sensing. Explain what technology you are employing to enable devices to be contextually aware and the markets that you see that are the most promising?
Tim Kelliher (TK): Movea provides data fusion and motion processing firmware, software, and IP for the consumer electronics industry, turning sensor data into meaningful personal information. The number of sensors utilized for smartphones, wearables and other connected devices is expanding, and our SmartMotion technology analyzes sensor signals, translating raw sensor data into pertinent information, be it on the device in a sensor hub or off the device as a cloud-based service or a combination of both. We lead the market delivering very low power yet high performance services such as user location, activity monitoring and context awareness, enabling always on features to be integrated into mobile and wearables. Today’s contextually aware applications are in their infancy. Google now is showing the potential for high level data fusion that will soon be combined low level sensor data. We believe fusing motion with audio and location information will provide the next step in the evolution of contextually aware applications.
DM: Movea is offering a low power sensor hub as an OEM solution. What kinds of mobile devices do you envision will incorporate the sensor technology other than some of the typical ones such as cell phones?
TK: Movea’s sensor hub solution provides always-on motion processing for smartphones, wearables and sports gadgets today. Outside of the smartphone market, we believe the wearable and sports gadget markets will expand. In the wearable space, the activity trackers will continue to expand the functionality to include a more feature-rich wellness offering and being to work in concert with the smartphone to expand the contextual awareness and location offerings. The sports gadgets market is a burgeoning market where the virtual coach continues to be the killer feature.
DM: High accuracy and low-power. Can you explain how you are achieving both? Are you achieving high accuracy through Wi-Fi access points or something else?
Movea achieves high accuracy while maintaining low-power by combining our advanced algorithms with a system architecture approach to the problem. In order to achieve rich and robust indoor location services (including indoor navigation), it will involve a combination of technologies including: accurate PDR, indoor maps, WiFi triangulation and local beacons (either RF or audio). By implementing a distributed sensor architecture, it is possible to deliver indoor location services with the accuracy that users have come to expect while minimizing the impact to battery life.
DM: Movea’s indoor navigation video has quite detailed floor plans of malls and transportation stations. Do you have an agreement with those building operators to supply the floor plans and do they participate in the revenue model in exchange for this information?
TK: We have worked closely with our partners, the SNCF in France and SK planet in Korea to obtain floor plans and building maps. The business models vary from partner to partner but typically either a device OEM or application maker would license the technology separately from Movea and the map provider.
DM: What are some of the barriers to indoor navigation and what do you envision as the potential once these barriers are brought down?
TK: As Movea sees it, there is not one “magic bullet” technology. WiFi, beacons, PDR, maps, phone manufacturers, operators and service providers need to work together to make it happen. Additionally without advancements in the system architecture, the combination of technologies running simultaneously will continue to drain a lot of battery. A distributed sensor architecture should be implemented to enable a smooth indoor navigation service while consuming minimal power.