Apple has purchased WiFiSLAM, a small WiFi mapping startup, for $20 million, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company specializes in technology which allows you to detect where a user’s phone is in a building using the WiFi signal, and it could very well be used to improve Apple’s Maps app.
An Apple spokesman confirmed the deal saying the company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time” and generally doesn’t discuss its plans. He declined to comment further. WifiSLAM could not immediately be reached for comment.
WiFiSlam has already raised money on on investor site AngelList, notably from Google employee Don Dodge. One of its employees is also ex-Google, Joseph Huang.
From the AngelList page:
Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.
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.
It’s an interesting move, which shows that Apple is fully in the Maps race and fiercely competing with Google more than ever. Indoor mapping is the next step, and it could be very interesting to see it integrated into Maps.