Norwegian Startup uses Ultrasound to create GPS for the indoors
Norway may not be the best in the world when it comes to baseball, rugby or tennis, but there is one thing for which Norwegians are extremely well-known… and that’s Ultrasound.
Extensively used in health care for several decades now, Norway has pioneered the use of Ultrasound in various other industries, including maritime, oil and gas, even construction. And recently an Oslo-based company called Forkbeard has taken that technology into an entirely new direction – the creation of the most accurate, efficient and effective indoor positioning technology for smartphones on the market today.
“Forkbeard is here to do indoors what GPS has enabled outdoors, which is essentially to help users locate destinations or people,” said Forkbeard CEO Ingvar Aaberg. But by using Ultrasound, Forkbeard deploys a technology that virtually every one of their competitors does not; and according to Aaberg, that gives his company a distinct advantage within the marketplace.
“Radio waves pass through walls, windows and floors while Ultrasound does not,” Aaberg said. “With Bluetooth, WiFi, and UWB, you might suddenly find that the actual position of the smart device is in a room other than what your Indoor Positioning System tells you… or worse, on another floor. Not only is this very frustrating for the user, but such unreliable accuracy severely limits the use-cases for that technology. Forkbeard effectively removes such limitations and opens the door for countless use-cases to drive maximum value for our partners and their end-customers."
The applications, Aaberg said, are truly myriad.
“Effective indoor positioning can help people locate a specific product in a specific retail store within a shopping center or identify your designated gate at an airport while telling you how long it takes to get there,” said Aaberg. “Or the technology could be used to guide a consumer to an item on a shelf in a grocery store. Meanwhile, the store can use the same technology to market additional related items to that very same consumer, providing added benefits for both parties.”
The technology deploys battery-powered ultraBeacons, strategically placed throughout a large indoor environment. Once per second, the ultraBeacons transmit their uniquely identifiable Ultrasound and Bluetooth signals. These signals are received by the standard processing capabilities housed within the billions of iOS and Android smartphones and tablets already in use. With a Forkbeard-activated app, the smart device guides the user to its targeted destination with what Forkbeard calls “down to the inch… or down to the centimeter” precision. “Additionally, 100% room level location accuracy is always achieved because Ultrasound naturally does not penetrate walls or windows,” Aaberg said.
Presently in extensive use in medical facilities worldwide through Forkbeard’s sister company Sonitor, Forkbeard is only now beginning its entry into the broad range of market verticals and use-cases that stand to benefit from their technology.
“Ours is a sophisticated yet simple platform with the unparalleled position-and-time accuracy that can enable a countless number of compelling use-case market verticals ranging from retail, education and warehousing to smart buildings and homes, automotive, even public safety,” said company Senior Vice President Terje “Terry” Aasen.
“At the end of the day, Forkbeard is about taking the GPS revolution indoors.”