Using the Earth’s Magnetic Waves to Help Navigate the Grocery Store

New app provides indoor GPS.

Jun 17, 2022
Using the Earth’s Magnetic Waves to Help Navigate the Grocery Store | New app provides indoor GPS.

If you’ve ever gotten lost trying to find your favorite spaghetti sauce in the grocery store, then there’s a new app for you. This innovative new technology uses the earth’s magnetic waves to help people navigate indoor spaces. 

In fact, according to the Times of Israel, it was the experience of getting lost in the aisles of his local supermarket, looking for honey, that inspired Oriient’s co-founder and CTO, Amiran Frish to create the app. 

“I walked around for a half hour looking for the honey – I kid you not,” Frish told Times of Israel. “They had moved it next to the dates because of the holiday. I said to myself: This is crazy, someone needs to solve the indoor positioning problem.”

Indoor navigation
Oriient, an Israeli startup that was founded in 2016,  can revolutionize the experience of navigating indoor spaces by providing what is essentially indoor GPS. For anyone who has ever gotten lost in the supermarket, or a large office building, Orient can help by providing a map of the place and your location within it.

The app can even provide users with the most efficient path through a supermarket based on their shopping list. Just type in what items you need, and the app will map out your path.

However, the best thing about Oriient is that it does not require the installation of any hardware. Because it uses the earth’s magnetic field to map spaces, it does nor require cameras or satellites or any extra devices to function. This lowers the costs significantly.

Most positioning software uses WIFI or GPS technology to create the maps that are the basis of their functionality. Oriient however, uses the earth’s magnetic fields to create their maps.

They are able to do this because every building, and in fact, anything with mass, distorts the earth’s magnetic field in its own unique way. Sensors within any cell phone can then pick up on those distortions and thus, can be used to create a unique map for any sort of building, even if it is underground and impervious to things like traditional GPS. 

“Have you ever gone hiking?” Frish asked. “Every trail has unique ups and downs. If you would measure every bump in the road you could distinguish between that and any other trail. It’s quite similar to what’s happening indoors with the magnetic field. When you traverse the indoor environment, the steel and iron in the infrastructure creates a magnetic typology similar to hiking.”

The app is gaining traction
Oriient’s story is one of persistence. According to Start-Up Nation Central, the start-up was founded in 2016 by Frisch and Mickey Balter. It took four years for the company to reach a stage where they felt the technology they had conceived of was usable and scalable, and then another few years to find both serious investors and customers.

The most obvious users are supermarkets and other large retail spaces, according to No-Camels, and the start-up has already begun partnering with some big retail companies such as Instacart. In March, 2022, Instacart announced that it added the navigation system into hundreds of its stores with more to come soon. The company recently announced a partnership with Google.

So the next time you’re wandering around the supermarket, despairing that you cannot find the yogurt, consider Oriient and what it can do for you.

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Tiki is a freelance writer, editor, and translator with a passion for writing stories. She believes in taking small actions to positively impact the world. She spends her free time reading, baking, creating art, and walking her rescue dog.