Apple Buys Indoor GPS Company WifiSLAM

Apple has purchased WifiSLAM for about US$20 million, hinting that indoor location tracking and navigation may be coming to iOS. WifiSLAM specializes in indoor mapping based on WiFi signals -- a feature that Google offers in some locations through its own map apps, but so far isn't available in Apple's Maps app.

Apple gets deeper into mapping with WifiSLAM purchaseApple gets deeper into mapping with WifiSLAM purchase

WifiSLAM claims its technology lets users track their position within 2.5 meters, or about eight feet, which makes it very attractive for indoor navigation and location-based social networking since it's accurate enough for step-by-step directions or letting you know how close your friends are. It's also useful for displaying ads and other sales tools in retail locations because it can show content based on the products that are nearby.

The company described itself as,

We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking.

Apple confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it has, in fact, purchased WifiSLAM stating that it "buys smaller technology companies from time to time."

With Google already offering its own indoor location services in a few malls, airports and sports centers, it looks like Apple is ready to ramp up its own Maps offerings even more.