The Global Positioning System, commonly known as GPS, was a vanguard form of global map tracking. This technology utilizes satellite signals to determine the target device’s location on the globe. Widely used for mapping applications such as driving directions or trail navigation, GPS unfortunately fell short on indoor navigation and target location within structures as satellite signals fail to penetrate roofs and walls.
In response to a market and stakeholder needs for indoor navigation capabilities, developers created a new technology based upon wi-fi and beacons to locate people or objects within a 3-D interior environment. Effectively functioning as an “internal GPS,” most systems deliver automatic positioning via a client-based application on a handheld device.
Often, with emergent technology, it is difficult to picture real-world applications. However, this market-driven technology had a fast rollout across industries and sectors. It is projected that indoor navigation will see immense growth in the coming year due to technological advances, cost reduction, and consumer awareness driving demand and cascading development. Here are some of the trends to expect to see in the coming year.
Public Place and Accessibility Applications
From airports and subway stations to localized tourism maps, wi-fi and beacon positioning can make getting lost a problem of the past. Client-based mobile applications can send and receive messaging from a single user’s handheld device and provide directions, maps, or any customized content based upon position policy or query.
Extensively adaptable and easily scalable, this new technology has already been rolled out in such public places as college campuses and international airports. From the ability to assist an individual in getting from point A to point B, to sending targeted messaging based upon their location, indoor navigation will change the way we interact with public environments.
The technology is being explored in applications to guide the visually impaired through spaces, sending audio queues to the user with appropriate directional prompts or messaging. Museums are also using it to provide self-government tour narratives. We can expect to see rapid advancement in accessibility applications as stakeholders grow interest in new markets.
One of the first sectors to pick up wi-fi and beacon positioning technology was, of course, the commercial sector. Originally applied as an efficient way to map and track inventory and navigate through warehouses, the technology was almost instantly found to have far-reaching commercial prospects.
Now, for instance, marketers can determine the exact location of a user within a mall, including previously visited stores and walking direction. This information can be used to serve back hyper-targeted and personalized advertisements or promotional messaging.
No matter what sector, we’re sure to see big growth in indoor navigation this year.