French aerospace company Thales has announced it has developed a new kind of GPS system that can be used indoors.

The "Indoor Positioning System" (IPS) is aimed initially at helping fire services, with live trials with one UK force already planned, although it could also be used by the police and armed forces.

The tracking system can pinpoint people inside smoked-filled buildings with the hope of reducing the risk that fire-fighters face in such conditions.

The IPS system developed in Reading, Berkshire, uses the Ultra Wide Band radio signal, designed for very short range and high data-rate links.

Eventually, this technology could have a consumer application and could possibly be offered in conjunction with mobile phones to help users to navigate around large shopping centres or airports.

A Thales spokesperson told Pocket-lint that they would expect to see a mass-market version of the technology available in the UK in around 4 to 5 years time.