Indoor location technologies compared

Patrick Carne /

Two years ago we founded Lighthouse because we found businesses were hamstrung by manual processes and context unaware solutions. Whether the end goal is customer engagement, improved productivity or risk mitigation, businesses need accurate indoor location information. And they need that information to be accessible and cost effective. Location technologies – GPS, WiFi, RFID, NFC and, most recently, BLE beacons – provide solutions to supplying that context.

Unfortunately, no single solution is the panacea to all problems and evaluating location technologies can be a daunting task. Usually, the right answer is dependant on the goals of your business, your environment, and your budget. So we prepared a simple infographic to help you break down the pros and cons of the 5 big location technologies across the most common evaluation criteria.

Note: this is a simplified summary of our findings. For a more complete explanation of the solutions and how we rated them, see our detailed article here.

Indoor Location Technologies Compared


In the dawning age of the “Internet of Things“, we understand that context is increasingly critical to effective decision making. Location technology has come a long way, and today we are able to connect people and things to their environment in ways that we only imagined a decade ago. But no single solution is perfect and the answer for your business depends on your needs, your budget and your environment. Each solution is best for a unique application and often some solutions are best used in combination. Here is a final helpful summary of when to use each technology:

Beacons: Indoor tracking, passive notification of contextual information, peer-to-peer messaging.

GPS: Outdoor tracking and navigation; long-range uses like agriculture and military.

WiFi: Repurposing existing infrastructure and situations where there is a strong need for internet connection (i.e. heavy data transfer, location accuracy only required within several meters).

RFID: SKU-level inventory tracking; accuracy required within centimeters.

NFC: One-to-one secure delivery of information between a consumer and another entity (payment, ticketing, etc).