Say Goodbye to GPS and Hello to VPS!
GPS is probably still one of the most revolutionary inventions. Who doesn’t draw his phone every once in a while to be guided as soon as he/she goes to an unknown location? The satellites have been always taking care of us and guiding us to the right address, but let’s just face it: they’re doing it poorly when we’re trying to find the right office, the right radius, when it comes to close-proximity.
That's what Google wants to fill. During its annual forum in May, the firm announced that it was working on an indoor GPS project called “Virtual Positioning System” (VPS). But wait a second, will this innovation be as successful as GPS?
How it Work?
To answer this question, we must first look at the Tango sensor. The sesnor was designed at Google in 2014 by Johnny Lee, previously employed by Microsoft where he contributed greatly to the development of the Kinect which largely inspired Tango. This sensor makes it possible to transform the camera of a smartphone by giving it the ability to see in three dimensions. That is to make it able to calculate the volume and recognize the elements of a room and their arrangements in space.
Because of its size and cost, this sensor is still not widespread on current phones and its applications are still limited: make measurements, design structures in 3D and even raise a virtual pet. This last application is similar to the augmented reality found in games like Pokemon Go, but the three-dimensional view of the sensor allows the animal to disappear behind furniture or appear bigger if you get closer to it.
This sensor is the key to VPS. Unlike other internal location attempts, such as Wi-Fi-based positioning system (WPS) or Bluetooth-based positioning system (BPS), which use triangulation methods based on WiFi or Bluetooth from neighboring phones and have a low success, Google’s new technology is seen in space as a human being: looking around for visual cues.
This technology can also change the daily lives of the visually impaired. a VPS with an audio interface could allow them to navigate a building, even unknown, without outside help.
Finally, this technology could be one of the key components of augmented reality applications to come. Google promises that it will soon be possible to look at shops through the camera of her/his phone to see reviews and recommendations associated. Game developers are also interested in VPS and may soon emerge labyrinthine arenas where monsters can emerge from your screen at every nook.
When will this be out in the market?
This is where the problem lies. Indeed, the question is crucial, but Google has refrained from giving statement on this subject. Still, the company has announced that the technology is already working, which seems to confirm the current tests at Lowe's and the Detroit's Institute. In fact, the biggest obstacle to deploying VPS is the weak distribution of the Tango sensor. This one is judged “still too bulky and expensive”. To date, only two smartphones (Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus Zenfone AR) have integrated it, which represents less than 2% of the market. The company is hopeful that the miniaturization of its sensor will allow it to reach a larger share of the population in the years to come. It is probably at this moment that It will choose to open the VPS to the public.