Shoppers could soon be able to use their smartphones to navigate around large stores

Indoor navigation system wins �500 000 grant

An indoor navigation system will use smartphones, tablets and iBeacons to improve consumers shopping experience.

The project lead by mobile app developer RNF Digital Innovation will go ahead following a £500,000 grant from the Technology Strategy Board, which will be combined with a further £202,000 from the company and its partner wholesale retailer Bestway Group.

The University of Lincoln and Aston University will provide technical and research support for the technology, which will provide customers with a smartphone app that can show them the quickest and most economical route through shops alerting them to offers and product updates on the way.  

Computer scientist Dr Patrick Dickinson, who is coordinating the project for the University of Lincoln, said: “We are really excited to be working on this project with RNF Digital Innovation, Bestway Cash and Carry, and Aston University, who will exploit these services to enable market-leading mobile apps, and new and uniquely personalised experiences for Bestway customers.

“Shoppers will be able to use an intelligent location-sensitive app which integrates with their shopping trip. It will combine their preferences and previous shopping behaviour with information about the store they are visiting, to plan their unique experience in real-time, alert them to points of interest, resulting in a more productive and enjoyable visit.”

The grant comes from a £5m fund set up by the Technology Strategy Board to stimulate innovation in the UK location-based services sector by supporting projects making use of location services such as GPS and other non-satellite technologies including Wi-Fi and iBeacon – which enables a smart phone or other device to perform certain actions when in close proximity.
Rob Mannion, RNF Digital Innovation managing director, said: “This system will allow us to deploy and utilise iBeacons in a way never seen before, enabling the creation of a user experience far in advance of what is currently available.”

The indoor navigation system project, including research and development, is scheduled to take place over the next 18 months.

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