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GPS-enabled phones fuel location-based apps

The global market for location-based applications is poised for rapid growth, as the mass adoption of smartphones enabled with the Global Positioning System (GPS) is encouraging developers to introduce numerous advanced apps.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, "Moving in Smart Spaces", finds that indoor connectivity, augmented reality, big data and wearable devices are the key technology trends likely to fuel the uptake of location-based apps. Location-based technology and data can then be combined to facilitate the development of smart spaces in every city and community.

"Location-based-application developers have so far focused on the development of outdoor applications due to the adoption of GPS positioning in smartphones," said Shuba Ramkumar, a Frost & Sullivan research analyst on information and communication technologies.

"However, as individuals spend more time indoors, there is a need to roll out indoor location-based applications that capitalise on various functionalities such as mapping, navigation and geo-fencing."

Augmented-reality technology could also be used to make location-based apps more interactive. Further, the widening ecosystem of wearable devices such as Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear infuses technology into the daily lives of individuals, widening the scope of context-aware applications.

However, there are several challenges restricting the growth of the location-based-applications market. The lack of standardisation in indoor positioning technologies such as Wi-Fi, sensors and Bluetooth is complicating the development of indoor apps. Application providers will need to wait until wearable-device manufacturers address the issues of limited battery life and dependence on smartphones for outdoor connectivity.

Market participants also find it difficult to monetise applications because of the absence of a clear business model. In this scenario, app developers should seek to identify new sources of revenue. They can expedite market expansion by establishing contracts with indoor venues to provide customised apps, and by working with wearable-device manufacturers to create related apps.

"Stakeholders should work together to identify the most reliable and accurate indoor positioning technologies that can steer market forward," Ramkumar said. "The In-Location Alliance is one such initiative formed by market participants to discuss and resolve issues concerning indoor positioning technologies."

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