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WATA, a Provider of Indoor Positioning Service

#Power of Businesses l 2021-01-04

Business Watch

ⓒ WATA Inc.

Now it’s time to take a look at a Korean business bringing about changes in the global economy with some new ideas. 


The company we’re going to introduce today is WATA, an indoor positioning service provider. Let’s hear from company CEO Kim Min-gyu. 


Indoor spaces all have spatial data such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, magnetic field, barometric pressure and cell patterns. Based on the spatial data and WATA’s own AI algorithms, the company provides a high-precision location service that can be used in underground and indoor environments, where GPS units typically do not work. In 2016, I attended a seminar about indoor tracking technology without GPS. 


I thought that demand for indoor location-based services would rise in the future, so I began to study this field intensively. 


Based on hybrid spatial data and AI algorithms, WATA provides accurate locations in underground and indoor environments, where it is difficult to locate one’s position because there is no GPS signal. Kim Min-gyu, an expert in promotion and marketing, and Kim Kyung-sik, a developer of location information technology, anticipated growing demand for indoor positioning systems. The two men hit it off and set up WATA. As they expected, companies and public institutions find it increasingly necessary to accurately find positions underground and indoors for the sake of various services and efficient management. 


Many companies we’ve met acutely felt the need for location-based services. For example, a company wanted to analyze customers’ behavior patterns and their preference by checking their movement paths and the duration of stay in stores. An automaker wanted a navigation system that combines indoor and outdoor data. Meanwhile, various industries including delivery, shopping, real estate and advertising requested the installment of a spatial recognition platform. We found that location-based services could be used for different purposes. 


Using an indoor positioning system, companies can manage their customers more efficiently as they can calculate customers’ routes and their space use patterns. It’s also effective in security and safety management. 


WATA’s service can also be used in subways, where GPS does not work, as it offers real-time transfer information and destination approaching alarms. In other words, users of this service will no longer miss their destinations even while dozing off or focusing on something else on the subway. This is possible because WATA was able to reduce errors with its advance technology. 


Typically, there’s an error range of 10 to 15 meters indoors. But our solution is very precise, with an error range of just between 1 and two meters. In fact, a 10-meter difference indoors cannot indentify one’s position accurately. The difference should be less than 2.5 meters at least to figure out where a person is, for instance, in front of a restroom or a ticket gate. 


I’d say our technology is above that of our global competitors. Still, we managed to reduce the cost and time for installing the service by one-twentieth. Therefore, even small companies can use our indoor location-based service easily. 


WATA’s technology has already been proved in the global market. In November 2019, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government hosted a contest for indoor guide services for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At the competition, WATA received the highest score, beating a number of global positioning platform providers including Yahoo Japan and IndoorAtlas. 


WATA’s platform is highly accurate, less costly and easy to use. Previously, it was necessary to maintain and manage Wi-Fi or AP in order to indentify locations indoors. For WATA’s services, in contrast, only a smartphone is needed without any particular equipment. WATA’s indoor positioning solution has drawn even greater attention in the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The pandemic has resulted in growing demand for contactless services, which require accurate information about indoor locations. For those placed under self-quarantine, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety developed an app. But the app cannot detect the movement indoors because it simply uses GPS. Our app, on the other hand, tracks the movement of a person in real-time using hybrid spatial data. 


So, even if the person escapes from a self-isolation location, the app can recognize it immediately. It can be used for automatic entry and exit management at hotels, hospitals and large buildings. Therefore, it can monitor the movement of confirmed COVID-19 patients and even identify people around them, so it can help prevent the spread of the virus rapidly and effectively. 


Last year, WATA developed a solution capable of monitoring the breakaway of self-isolated people in real time and distributed it to relevant organizations and companies free of charge. The company has also introduced biometrics authentication technology, which blocks another person from verifying for an isolated person and discourages an isolation target from leaving the designated location without carrying his or her smartphone. 


In addition, WATA’s indoor positioning service is used for saving people in urgent situations related to disasters or crimes. By pinpointing the indoor locations of people who ask for help, it can rescue them quickly and secure the important golden hour for emergency patients. 


WATA seeks to create multi-experience development platforms that help enhance people’s digital experiences in different devices or touchpoints by utilizing diverse hybrid spatial data in underground and indoor environments, where GPS cannot reach. Through its AI cloud spatial recognition platform, the company significantly cut the cost and time for installing the service. It will create spatial recognition platforms tailored to different industries and provide services needed for companies and organizations. In doing so, it will present human-centered, smart spatial solutions that can be used in the post-COVID-19 era. This is WATA’s ultimate goal. 


Underground and indoor spaces are becoming increasingly complicated and large, with people spending more time in such spaces like large shopping malls and public facilities. WATA is working hard on research and development with the purpose of helping people enjoy a safer and more comfortable life indoors. 


ⓒ WATA Inc.

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