One of the major weaknesses of satellite-based location services, also known as GPS, is their limited efficiency within buildings. Over the years, quite a few solutions have emerged, but the Israeli startup offers to do so using earth's features and algorithms –not by installing additional equipment. Meet the startup Oriient, which announced yesterday (Tuesday) the completion of an $11 million round of funding led by OurCrowd, with participation from the Regal Four investment fund and existing investors: F2 Venture Capital, NGN Partners, and Future Energy Ventures.
Uses your compass and the Earth's magnetic field
Oriient has developed a system for location services inside buildings. Over the years we have seen quite a few developments in the field, but Orient wants to achieve this without using additional hardware, like Wise, which uses beacons or radio "beams" that use a Bluetooth connection to understand your location in tunnels or parking lots.
In a conversation with Geektime, Mickey Balter, the company's CEO and one of the founders, explains that the company's product uses the smartphone's compass and algorithms developed by the company to detect distortions that form structures in the Earth's magnetic field. "The company's algorithms learn the contortions throughout the building to uncover the location of the device accurate to the meter, and similar to GPSs outside, the applications allow the user to get directions to the desired shop, room, or information desk," Balter explains.
According to Balter, the significant advantage of their development over beacon-based products - whether via WiFi or BLE - is the fact that beacons require complex and expensive installation to maintain, and therefore do not receive widespread adoption, while WiFi-based solutions provide limited accuracy and are therefore irrelevant. Because Oriient uses sensors that already exist in every smartphone today and does not require investments in the installation or maintenance of high-precision hardware - it enjoys a significant advantage over competitors.
Balter says the company currently works primarily with the retail sector - chains of large stores or shipping companies - and with companies that run smart buildings. "The uses for these companies are diverse and include faster navigation, location-based marketing (for example, an apple coupon when the system detects the buyer approaching the fruit stand); traffic analytics within the building - both by visitors and employees and more." Orient is planning to expand to other types of buildings such as malls, hospitals, campuses, and airports.
Oriient's system is already in use today by the shipping giant Instacart. The Instarkart app includes Orient's navigation capabilities and assists the company's collectors in hundreds of stores across the U.S. It creates the fastest navigation routes to any shopping list and allows collectors to find more items, in less time. Orient was founded in 2017 by Balter and Amiram Frisch. The company currently employs 35 people at its development center in Israel.