May 28, 2015

Mobile Devices and the Future of Indoor Navigation

5 minute read




Indoor navigation is becoming a necessary, and even expected technology in many situations, from malls and hospitals to corporate campuses and more. Combined with enterprise wayfinding software, indoor navigation is providing users with numerous benefits beyond navigation from point A to point B.

Because buildings are in a constant state of flux – regularly being remodeled and reorganized – building maps must be maintained. The combination of enterprise wayfinding software and mobile devices powered by initiatives like Google’s Project Tango are taking indoor mapping to the next level. Currently, a venture in the early stages of development holds the potential to revolutionize indoor navigation.

Project Tango was initiated by Google to, as stated on their web page, “give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.” Though only available to a handful of developers, this mobile device is already in the works. Using depth-sensors, two visual processors and a tracking camera, this device takes about 250,000 measurements every second in order to track itself in 3D and real-time.

This sort of technology has applications beyond navigation and mapping. Handicap accessibility, especially for those who are visually impaired is one such application. With BLE beacon indoor positioning, our mobile wayfinding app could help guide a visually impaired person from point A to point B, providing location-based information and services along the way. However, using Project Tango technology, a visually impaired individual would not only be guided to their destination, but also given a spatial idea of the building or room around them, helping them avoid obstacles along their journey.

The University of Pennsylvania is working on autonomous, flying robots at the moment - something that holds great potential for mapping in the future, both indoor and outdoor. This technology holds the potential to allow robots, flying or otherwise, to enter environments humans cannot and map the area.

Let’s look at the benefits of these technologies in the context of hospital wayfinding. Say you’re renovating  a hospital building: in many cases, the original architectural diagrams may be out of date or lost. Using these technologies, a robot (or several) can be sent in to map the area. This will give an accurate, 3D map of the building to be captured into an Enterprise Wayfinding Platform (EWP). Once in the system, the map can be populated with data, from hallway names and room numbers to maternity versus oncology wings.

Once a map is captured and stored on the wayfinding platform, it becomes the most accurate representation of the building. Already, any updates to the map can be done manually within the EWP or dynamically through integration with other applications such as lease management systems. In the future we envisage that EWP systems will be integrated with mobile devices and robots that will continuously feed data into the EWP. This data may feed new maps into the system for an additional hospital wing or automatically trigger closure of contaminated area.

With near limitless applications across the industries, initiatives like Project Tango will set the organizations that use it apart from the rest. Combined with wayfinding software, the applications and possibilities expand even further.



Chris Wiegand

With a track record of success in both business growth and business transformation, Chris Wiegand has dedicated his career to discovering and creating business opportunities that address real-world needs. In 2009, Chris co-founded indoor mapping company Jibestream, and led its incredible growth from an idea to a globally recognized leader in the indoor mapping space. Chris joined the Inpixon team in 2019 with Inpixon’s acquisition of Jibestream, where he continues to be a leading voice in the indoor intelligence space, driving success for the company’s indoor intelligence solutions.

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