TRANSLATED ARTICLE – Original article by Maria Korteila and published in Kiinteistö Uutiset on 23.8.2019.
Only a few have probably noticed, that the market leader for accurate indoor positioning is a Finnish growth company. Specialising in real-time positioning technology, Quuppa Oy from Espoo has made it far in the space of just a few years in a market that is growing explosively.
With Quuppa’s technology, indoor positioning can take place accurately and frequently: the technology’s technical limits are 10 centimeters for location accuracy and 100 syncs per second for speed.
That being said, in practice, most solutions typically use one meter positioning accuracy, measured once a second.
For example: is the tagged person crossing a safe or prohibited boundary, is the aircraft mechanic picking up the correct (tagged) spare part from the shelf?
The range of application solutions is wide, almost limitless, and so is the potential.
Quuppa’s technology is already in use in hundreds of different solutions, for example, in smart buildings, retail stores, restaurants, logistics, the manufacturing industry, healthcare and sports.
Growth with the help of a network
Quuppa, which was established in 2012, already has some 150 partners in 40 different countries.
The partners use Quuppa’s technology in their own positioning solutions, so Quuppa does not need to go to each end customer itself with its own mechanics in tow.
In this way, at Chinese police stations, Quuppa’s technology monitors that at least two members of staff are present when interrogating or guarding suspects as per the regulations.
And at an American hospital, Quuppa’s technology triggers alerts if a nurse has forgotten to wash their hands when moving from one patient to the next.
And in a Turkish mine, Quuppa’s technology monitors that the tunnels in the mine are safe.
A network of partners is Quuppa’s strategy: the company is building a horizontal network, which enables simultaneous growth in many industries without a large organisation of its own.
Quuppa’s own staff is a group of about fifty people. In addition to its office in Espoo’s Keilaniemi, the company also has offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Mumbai, Sydney, Abu Dhabi and Washington.
“We have intentionally wanted to remain in the role of the technology provider. Our international offices focus on local sales and customer service,” Quuppa’s CEO and one of the founders Kimmo Kalliola, says.
Even some of Quuppa’s competitors are partners, as Quuppa’s unique technology can complement other positioning solutions.
The secret weapon is the algorithm
Even though Quuppa is young company, the technology it uses has a longer history. The core algorithm has been developed over 15 years.
The company’s roots are at Aalto University, where research into how radio waves travel in urban environments was being done in the 1990s.
From 2004 onwards, the research was continued as product development at the Nokia Research Center (NRC), where the developers became interested in indoor positioning services and the consumer business based behind it.
However, the idea was ahead of its time and when Nokia cut excesses, Quuppa was was born as a spin-off company from the NRC. The company’s five founders initially licensed the results of the research that had been carried out.
The technology is based on so-called Bluetooth Low Energy technology and the positioning algorithms of the antenna array, from which the system can calculate position more accurately than competing technologies.
The range of the base solution is around one hundred meters, but three hundred meters can be reached if needed.
“The foundation of our technology is that we know the propagation characteristics of radio waves so thoroughly. This allows us to reach levels of accuracy and reliability that give us a strong competitive edge.” Kalliola states.
Real-time is also a big competitive factor – positioning information is available in fractions of a second. This is essential, for example in security applications.
In addition, Quuppa’s technology can measure any Bluetooth data. For example, antennas to measure patient heart rates or acceleration antennas to detect movement can be added to the positioning solution.
Quuppa’s open Application Programming Interface (API) is also unique in the industry and ensures wide compatibility.
Growth has been profitable
Unlike many of the other similarly growing young companies, Quuppa is also making a profit. The company has funded its growth using cash flow, without venture capital.
Over the last five years, Quuppa’s revenue has grown on average by 80 per cent every year and last year reached almost nine million euros.
The company is making a profit for the fourth year running, and last year it was about one million euros.
Venture capitalists have knocked on the door, but at least for now Quuppa has wanted to remain independent. The situation may change if and when indoor positioning starts to become more common in consumer applications.
“I believe that with time, indoor positioning will be as normal as Wi-Fi networks and GPS are for consumers today” Kalliola says.