Have you ever gotten lost in an unfamiliar airport or been separated from your companions in a large shopping mall? While satellite based GPS systems can help us from getting lost when we’re driving, we’ve so far been on our own when it comes to large indoor locations like airports, malls, museums or hospitals. In the near future, however, indoor navigation GPS promises to make such lost in the supermarket moments a thing of the past.

Indoor Vs. Outdoor GPS Systems

Traditional GPS satellite systems use microwave radio frequencies to calculate distances and transmit location data. Microwave signals quickly become scattered when encountering walls, roofs and other solid objects within indoor locations. This makes satellite based GPS largely ineffective for indoor navigation systems and is a major reason for the delay in useful indoor GPS applications. However, with the growing popularity of short range wireless technologies like Bluetooth, RFID, and Wi-Fi positioning systems, indoor location systems are lest costly to develop and easier to implement than they have been in the past. Non-radio based technologies, such as visual marker positioning and magnetic positioning are also looking like promising options for indoor navigation system design.

And Indoor Mapping System Based On You

As indoor GPS systems become more affordable and common, look for them to be implemented in large public spaces such as malls, hospitals, hotels, sports arenas, airports and museums. Instead of stumbling around lost, searching for the “you are here” sign, shoppers and tourists of the future may just have to check their smartphone screen to keep from getting lost indoors. Future applications may allow users of indoor GPS systems to easily locate each other if they get separated in public.

A New Level Of Independence For The Visually Impaired

One of the first implementations for indoor GPS will likely be technology for the visually impaired. Indoor navigation systems will be able to help impaired folks navigate buildings unfamiliar to them and appreciate the content of museums, grocery stores and the like. Indoor GPS could also be custom programmed for a blind or visually disabled customer’s home so that they could achieve a greater level of day to day independence.

Virtual And Augmented Reality in Real Space

While most uses of indoor GPS might seem practical and serious, the technology could also unleash a new era in virtual reality applications, including gaming. An augmented reality participant could experience an imagined world that feels even more lifelike and vibrant than ever before using the new technology.

While indoor uses of GPS technology are in their infancy, the technology is becoming more and more common. It is currently mostly used for business and industrial applications, but could begin to be adopted by residential users in the very near future. Until then, we’d be wise to keep looking forward to the coming indoor GPS era, though we shouldn’t give up our maps just yet.

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