App Shows You and Others Where You're At

A certain societal tipping point has been reached when more people can be counted on to download and correctly use an app than find their way through a building. An outfit called Navizon is banking on this.

The company, which maintains a San Jose office, is a player in the intriguingly named "indoor location business." In a 21st-century iteration of the "You Are Here" sign, Navizon's ITS (Indoor Triangulation System) records all the ambient wireless signals flowing through your building. Specific wireless frequencies are indicative of specific locations. By overlaying that technology with the digital maps of buildings created by Navizon's Sunnyvale partner company Micello, one's exact indoor location can be determined. Anyone lost within a labyrinthine structure could benefit.

There is, however, another side to always knowing where you are. Someone else knows where you are, too. Navizon business development manager Carlos Machado says that this technology could allow a department store to track the movement of smartphone-wielding customers throughout the store, keeping track of where they linger, and generating analytics. In a jail, it could be used to monitor the locations of every last guard.

A shoplifter, it seems, may benefit from both.

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