All You Need to Know About Indoor Positioning and Navigation Systems | 10 min
[Indoor Navigation & Wayfinding]
The usage of technology by people across the globe has evolved over time in relation to their lifestyles, aiming to alleviate common problems. In extension to the satellite-based Global Positioning Systems (GPS) which works for navigating outdoors and wayfind to points of interest, a growing trend which is set to become commonplace is the usage of indoor positioning and navigation technologies which help with path finding within large facilities.
Outdoor GPS navigation apps are among many such applications which guide people in exploring new places, be it in a crowded city or a remote village. However, even today navigating within large indoor locations is a common challenge which visitors face in large venues such as medical facilities, shopping malls, or transportation hubs.
Indoor Positioning and Navigation Systems
Plenty of applications and software play an umbrella role while offering services to its users, and indoor positioning and navigation systems are one among them. The term umbrella here refers to a variety of features integrated onto a single platform, serving diverse purposes.
Wondering what’s so great about it in this digital world?
Indoor positioning and navigation systems can primarily serve as an indoor location tracker with attendant features complimenting its own services. Only a few apps offer a multitude of services to ensure holistic operational efficiency.
Indoor positioning and navigation applications work using the following four technologies primarily:
- Ultra wide band
Where will Indoor Positioning and Navigation Systems Fit In?
Not many apps or technologies fall under two polarities that are different in nature; this is the case with indoor positioning and navigation systems. Whether the venue is small, big or massive, this system can be adopted for better visitor engagement and result in an increasing bottom line for the facility owners.
However, the recommended optimal application of the technology is that for large facilities like airports, convention centers, zoos, etc., a facility’s economy can be measured by looking at the number of people who regularly visit large venues mentioned above.
Also read our blog What Are Indoor Maps? How Can They Benefit Large Facilities?
Here are some of the Most Common Challenges in Large Venues
It’s not easy to keep up with technological trends in this modern day as every other day there is a technological upgrade that takes place. Especially, in case of large venues it becomes even more cumbersome work. Also, for technological progress to take place in large facilities, it needs to meet with the budget allocated by the venue.
Time constraint can be a challenge for anybody and anything irrespective of the size and power of it. Managing time becomes important to reach the objectives designed for the progress of a person, company or even a large venue. Therefore it is advised to plan by outlining your short term vs. long term goals and not being hasty while managing time. Only technology can divide and share the burden of manpower in large venues.
Managing crowds is the biggest challenge large venues face. However, with an organized route guide within the venue, it can be resolved to an extent. Venues which have been catered to with technology have seen drastic changes in regards to managing and monitoring the crowd present within the venue. Indoor positioning systems can offer a great deal of service in venues that accommodate large groups of people at once.
How Indoor Positioning and Navigation Systems Can Help Large Facilities?
Large facilities have common challenges irrespective of the services they offer to the visitors and indoor positioning systems can combat those challenges with ease. Challenges like path finding, locating a person, store, or a facility and much more, let’s see how this technology can resolve such issues.
Self Monitoring Path Guide in Large Venues
Indoor positioning and navigation systems can be the path guide for visitors in huge facilities that generally need a local in order to explore the venue optimally. With large interior spaces commonly functioning on geo-referenced data with Wi-Fi access points on each corner and also Bluetooth beacon signal strengths within the buildings, it becomes easy for indoor positioning systems to function and serve their visitors.
In order for visitors to have a productive visit to public venues like airports, stadiums, or within a private space like an office facility, warehouse or a manufacturing facility, they need a proper guide that can wayfind and navigate them to the desired location. With the right technology big spaces can monitor their visitors within the venue effectively.
Cuts down Unnecessary Wandering in Large Venues
Most visitors in large venues happen to spend a lot of time wandering through the facility unreasonably, fetching nothing in the process. Time constraint becomes one of the major challenges for management of today’s large venues. Indoor positioning technology becomes very appropriate for venues that have pre-configured time slots like museums, zoos, airports, etc.
While exploring venues which offer a plethora of services, visitors need to plan their day according to time constraints so as to make the best out of the visit. When a facility integrates its operations with an indoor positioning system, there results a productive interaction between the visitors and the management of the venue. Most visitors leave the venue due to lack of relevant communication generated by the facility management, which could eventually be considered as a loss of potential customers and decline in revenues.
An indoor positioning system serves not just the visitors but also the management of the venue with its end to end functionality. Large facility managers have a million things to do every day; attending budget meetings, consulting vendors, answering emails and much more. Besides these, there are employees with questions, management concerns and issues that need to be sorted. And all this needs to be done before the end of day! Managing time therefore becomes a big challenge for a facility manager. Indoor position and navigation technology can be the right choice as it can help manage a wide range of locations, spaces, services and assets critical in today’s fast paced world.
Adopting Technology That is User-friendly
There is a prevalent notion among visitors that management of large venues doesn’t really focus on significant visitor experience areas, which eventually affects their average visitor engagement ratings. They don’t realize that interfaces of most technologies tend to be overly complicated which could lead to disinterest from the visitors’ end. But in case of indoor positioning technologies, the users are presented with a friendly interface to engage them thoroughly in order to maximize their day at the venue.
Also, the management of a large venue needs to keep in mind the visitors who use this system regularly are not just young people but could be middle-aged and sometimes old as well. It is commonly accepted that technology is built for the next generation to benefit but, according to a survey by Pew Research Center, it says that over 62% of adults use technology in the form of smart phones, desktop computers, laptops and tablets for browsing the internet and relevant gain information.
Future of Indoor Positioning Systems is going to be Revolutionary
The trends in technology change with time and that’s how it has enmeshed with the lives of people in each era. Similarly, for future users technology has extensive benefits to offer.
Let’s go through one such example…
Technology can sometimes, in fact, most of the times make us realize the ‘awe’ factor with its innovative and futuristic creations.
oblu: A Shoe-Mounted Indoor Positioning System
For outdoor navigations, there is still scope for people to use traditional ways to communicate and find their paths but in case of indoor navigation its becoming way to tough to communicate for navigation.
oblu is an Arduino compatible, miniaturized, low cost and open source inertial sensor targeted towards wearable motion sensing applications. oblu is a shoe-mounted pedestrian dead reckoning (PDR) system that can tell the users to change direction and location according to their destinations. It’s available as a configurable development platform, and can report position data to a Smartphone via its onboard Bluetooth module.
Note: The image and the information is curate from a blog published on Medium.
oblu is suitable for applications with space constraints, e.g. wearable motion sensing. It can also be used as a wireless IMU with the help of on-board Bluetooth. Presence of on-board floating point processing capability, along with four IMUs array, makes sensor fusion and motion processing possible within the module itself, which in turn results in very accurate motion sensing.
The features of this future technology are quite futuristic and it is inevitable that once this techno is on board it is going to create a revolutionary impact on the users and the populace on the whole.
Features of this technology are:
- Four 3-axis Accelerometer
- Four 3-axis Gyroscope
- 32 bit FP microcontroller
- USB battery charging
- Li-ion battery operable
- BLE 4.1 and USB interface
- JTAG programmable
- Digital output
The future is bright for the next generation users and/or visitors of large venues!
It seems that we will see more applications or technologies powered with UWB (Ultra-wide band) location detection in the future as the price of the hardware and software solutions is going to rapidly decrease due to the commonality it has reached. Augmented Reality (AR) experiences will play a role with UWB as precise location and direction information opens the doors for even richer AR apps. Locatify’s focus is on making location based apps for augmented reality audio and indoor navigation apps. In the future, the UWB hardware may well be built into smart phones and could be part of headphones as well.
Overall, in large venues there is always a need to find ways to a specific location which may not be possible with manpower alone. Technology can be a better alternative for that job. With applications that can enhance visitor experience and take it to the next level, new age applications need to be co-opted in order to serve present and future purposes.
The management of large venues is looking out for applications that can offer indoor wayfinding and navigation as their primary function, followed by features that can obtain vital user data from visitors in order to make more informed management decisions.
Most of the venues have a bunch of points of interest in their venue and navigating them is just not enough. Features that can help them schedule or register for an event, pre-scheduling their day in terms of their points of interest, marketing integration and many such features need to be integrated in apps to enable smooth functioning of large facilities.