updated 10:35 am EDT, Fri April 27, 2012
White Space indoor location accurate to 10 feet
Nokia has been testing the potential uses of white spaces for indoor positioning. The testing, based at the Imperial War Museum in Cambridge, UK, uses a Nokia N9 to supply information to users on nearby exhibits.
White spaces are unused bands in the TV spectrum, which change depending on the TV channels available in an area. Reserved signal bands for a TV network in London may not be used by other broadcasters in other locations, for example. The unused space could be potentially used for extra localized data transfer capacity, such as cheaper internet access.
The Nokia researchers have spent the last three years developing indoor information delivery using white spaces. The N9 receives push updates when it gets to specific areas of the museum, giving the opportunity to view video and images from the Imperial War Museum archives which couldn't be displayed easily as a sign.
Currently, the phone is connected to a box that detects UHF TV bands and connects to a government-mandated database to determine its location. Scott Probasco, a Nokia senior manager speaking on a company blog, advised "Before this system can be used in commercial devices, and we can get rid of this box, we need mass produced chips to fit inside the phones, and those will only come when the standards have been developed." The accuracy of the white space positioning is to within 32 feet and works indoors, whereas GPS does not.
Google is working on a competing system for indoor positioning, using a combination of GPS, public Wi-Fi and nearby cell towers.