• The name Baidu was derived from the title of a poem written 800 years ago. It means "search for the ideal."

The name Baidu was derived from the title of a poem written 800 years ago. It means "search for the ideal." (Photo : Reuters)

After the Alibaba Group-backed AutoNavi Holdings launched its indoor navigation services on Jan. 18, a joint venture between Baidu Inc. and telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. was confirmed on Tuesday.

Like AutoNavi's technology, the search engine company will work with Huawei on products that assist users to negotiate their way in complicated indoor spaces, such as a confusing Ikea store or a multi-level electronic goods market, as GPS signals are not available in such environments.

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The news was announced after the finalization of a $10-million Baidu investment in Finnish startup IndoorAtlas was publicized on the latter's website in Sept. 2014. The multi-million-dollar payout entitles Baidu to exclusive access to the nascent Finnish company's indoor positioning technology within China's borders.

The technologies that Atlas and AutoNavi are progressively fine-tuning are particularly useful for finding specific retail outlets, restrooms or ATM machines.

Wang Tao, president of Huawei's wireless network unit, has told reporters that the fruits produced by this week's partnership could be introduced into airports as early as this year.

In light of the rapidly expanding air travel market in China, with a new consumer airport scheduled, the prospect indicates a shrewd and up-to-date business sense.

According to Xiang Ligang, chief executive of industry information portal cctime.com, the broad-reaching installment of 3G and 4G mobile networks and Wi-Fi services throughout China means that indoor-navigation research and development (R&D), like that being undertaken by Baidu and Huawei, is now possible.

However, the technology remains in the early stages and Xiang noted: "It will still take a long time before the indoor navigation technology matures and generates revenue for mapping companies."