Many of us today can’t imagine trying to get to a new place without using a GPS to lead us. Nobody likes getting lost! But what about those large building like airports, malls, or conference centers? Have you ever found yourself hopelessly lost in one of those? Indoor navigation apps are the technology you need to keep you from wandering around in giant indoor spaces and is becoming more and more widespread.
What are Indoor Navigation Apps?
Indoor navigation apps create interactive maps and navigation tools that can be used by other people on their smartphones.
Today’s mobile phones have come a long way since the early days of the technology. Now they not only message and call, but they have a variety of sensors like accelerometers, gyroscopes, electronic compasses, barometers, etc. that developers are using to create indoor navigation apps. Indoor navigation apps access those sensors in your phone and the environment around you to create a map to help you move to your desired location within the building quickly and easily. In short, they help you find your way in a large, confusing building.
While the technologies involved in creating these systems don’t always produce the seamless experience we might want from them, they are continually improving, and many of them are up and running. Here are some apps you may be interested in that allow you to create or use indoor navigation technology.
1. Path Guide
Path Guide is a plug-and-play indoor navigation app that works similarly to the game “Follow the Leader”. Once one person creates a map of a building, it is uploaded to the cloud and available for others to use. By compiling data from many different users, Path Guide can amplify the benefits of every single path collected.
This app does not use GPS signals. The mapping is done manually by your motion within the building. It uses your phone’s barometer and magnetometer to calculate distances and create maps of the location you are mapping.
2. Google Indoor Maps
Google Maps contains some indoor maps in its regular app. It allows you to see the locations of various things in buildings that have indoor maps in the Google Maps directory. Only certain kinds of buildings like airports, bus bays, shopping malls, stadiums are part of this system. Google only allows new entries to the index if they fall into one of those categories. Since the buildings show on Google Maps, you don’t need a special app to use it. However it does not navigate like its road app does, but it does give you a way to find your destination.
3. Situm Mapping Tool
The Situm Mapping Tool is enterprise level software that gives you the ability to map your own buildings and then share the maps with people who need the information. It uses the gyroscope in your phone, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to create the maps. You record pathways between locations within the building, and it creates a path that actually navigates your visitors through your structure.
4. HERE Indoor Radio Mapping
On HERE Indoor Radio Mapping you can calculate and set pathways for your building using either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth beacons, depending on what works best for you. To create a map with this tool, you don’t need to choose a location on a map, you just add buildings and include the floor plans and perimeters to set pathways. Uses SLAM (Simultaneous Location and Mapping) mode to localize the navigation and synchronize with the map simultaneously. You need a license to use the full features of HERE Indoor radio mapping. You can download a free app that comes with a demo version.
5. IndoorAtlas MapCreator 2
If you use IndoorAtlas MapCreator 2, most of the work will be done on your PC. You cannot manage your maps, add buildings or create new maps on the Android app. This app uses the gyroscope on your phone to record pathways
Indoorway is enterprise level software for those who want to create an accurate map for the public. As of yet, there is no stand-alone application yet for you to record and save maps on your phone. You have to use the web dashboard to manage and share the maps and navigations. To create your maps, Indoorway uses Google business listing data to find your business. It uses Bluetooth as its mapping system, so you will need at least 28-30 Bluetooth beacons to create maps with accurate height and area information.
The next time you’re headed for the airport, check out some of these apps. There may be a navigation system available for that location. If you own or manage a large building, consider the possibilities a system like this may have for your business.