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TomTom And Sensewhere Form Alliance To Uncover Hidden Places On Digital Maps

This collaboration aims ferret out those GPS 'black spots' and bring location based services indoors.

Mapping software pioneer TomTom powers the navigation abilities from everything from GPS receivers on car dashboards to wearables.

The 25-year-old Dutch company has been getting a lot of attention over the past few years as an alternative to Google’s location technology for consumers, as TomTom has been working on continuing its appeal to consumers and companies alike. Back in May, it became an official sponsor of the NBC series Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.

Aside from building up its profile, TomTom has also been working on creating new alliances. The company is working with global positioning technology provider Sensewhere to “fill the GPS gap” between outdoor and indoor locations, says Andy Marchant, Product Manager for Maps at TomTom.

“Access to indoor positioning technology, coupled with highly accurate indoor maps, means that guidance can be integrated into the day-to-day operations of a wide variety of venues, including enterprise facilities, shopping malls, airports, hospitals and more,” said Pieter Gillegot-Vergauwen, VP of Maps Product Management for TomTom, in a statement. “With the explosion of the Internet of Things, we believe that by partnering with Sensewhere our customers will not only be able to gain efficiencies, but will also deliver a better experience to their own customers.”

“We are excited to help TomTom extend its navigation prowess indoors with this technology collaboration,” said Rob Palfreyman, CEO of Sensewhere. “We believe this integration is a perfect fit for enterprises that need to combine location intelligence, resource planning and efficient execution.”

GeoMarketing: Is this a completely new partnership or an expansion of an existing one?

Andy Marchant: It is a completely new partnership. However, TomTom has been working for around 12 months on testing positioning technology with the TomTom indoor maps.

What does Sensewhere bring to TomTom’s capabilities (and vice versa)?

TomTom devices are predominately focused on the outdoors, be it PND or in car, or watches and wearables. Outdoors, GPS provides proven accurate positioning, however GPS is a line of sight technology so does not work inside buildings.

Sensewhere technology allows sensors (such as wifi, beacons and other sensors) dispersed within a building to be used for positioning. They work in the same way as the GPS satellites in as much as the sensors create a triangulation point and more sensors that can be “seen” the more accurate the user positioning.

What TomTom brings to Sensewhere capabilities is highly detailed accurate maps of indoor venues. All our venues include navigation lines, which are connected to the pedestrian pathways outside of buildings. This means that using TomTom maps and Sensewhere technology a user can be routed seamlessly from outdoors (using GPS) to indoors (using Sensewhere positioning) and accurately to their desired location, be it a store in a mall, an airline departure gate or a specific location within a commercial venue.

What brought the two companies together? Was TomTom actively looking for ways to increase its indoor navigation capabilities?

We recognized that having accurate indoor maps is only one piece of the puzzle and without accurate indoor positioning the solution is only partially completed. We looked at a number of indoor positioning technologies and companies and felt that Sensewhere offered the best solution.

What’s next for this partnership? Will you actively seek new clients together or will you initially be concentrating on expanding existing clients’ uses to this new set of services?

Both TomTom and Sensewhere have a number of existing clients that will benefit from this combination of positional technology and indoor maps. We also have new customers for our indoor maps that are looking to TomTom for positioning solutions, this is where we can collaborate with Sensewhere on providing the best customer experience.