The Chinese search giant Baidu has invested $10 million in IndoorAtlas, a Finland-based provider of geolocation technology.
IndoorAtlas is an interesting outfit – it uses the Earth’s geomagnetic field to establish the user’s location, rather than just relying on wireless signals such as those from Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth beacons or GPS satellites.
This means it will work indoors without the need for established wireless infrastructure, though it will obviously work better in conjunction with these other technologies. For example, it can work alongside Bluetooth Low Energy devices like Apple‘s iBeacons to provide the moving blue dot on an indoor map.
Baidu‘s investment nets it exclusivity – no one else will be able to use IndoorAtlas’s technology in the Chinese market. According to Baidu location-based services (LBS) chief Liu Jun, IndoorAtlas’s technology and global coverage will “be instrumental in helping us at Baidu build out our LBS platform for local merchants in China and abroad.”
The investment follows a €3.3 million ($4.3 million) chunk of funding all of two months ago, from Mobility Ventures, KoppiCatch, Vera Ventures, Finnvera and Tekes.
IndoorAtlas said it would use the fresh cash infusion for R&D, engineering and business development in Asia, Europe and the U.S. Meanwhile, this deal has clearly been on the boil for a while – Baidu is already showing off the interplay between IndoorAtlas’s technology and its Baidu Maps service at a conference in Beijing on Wednesday.