Indoor Navigation and Tracking are Here to Stay
People are spending about 85% of their time in buildings doing activities like working, shopping, eating, and unlike outside where we can rely on GPS technology, indoors we are relying on Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS). In order to work, GPS requires a clear view to communicate with satellites and is only one-third as accurate in vertical plan than in horizontal, so for indoor positioning there are used some or more of the following technologies:
WiFi triangulation – It measures the signal strength from three or more Wifi hotspots, without actually accessing the Wifi networks.
WiFi fingerprinting – It compares your current location/Wifi Fingerprint to a database of known locations.
Bluetooth and radio beacons – Your iPhone or Android can comunicate through bluetooth or radio signals with beacons located at known positions within a building and establish with accuracy your location, using the same triangulation method.
Smartphone sensors – Most smartphones available on the market have sensors like an accelerometer, gyrometer, compass etc that can be used in conjuction with GPS or WiFi signals to establish your location inside a building.
Some domains that will be impacted by the indoor location technology:
Retail stores – They will be able to optimize the shopping experience and provide a higher lever of service by allowing users to easily find products using indoor navigation and searchable store maps. They will also we able to cut delay times by providing shoppers with a way to navigate to an empty parking spot in the building and from there to the desired destination/store.
Retailers are also using indoor positioning technology to change store layouts and to offer customized coupons based on user’s location. Retailers like Nordstrom, Family Dollar, Cabela’s, Benetton and Warby Parker, are already testing these technologies, according to an article on NYTimes.
Aisle411 is one such solution, powering over 12,000 searchable store maps and having clients like Wallgreens.
Hospitals – Hospitals can maximize equipment utilization rates, shorten equipment search times and prevent theft. Indoor positioning apps can also improve patient safety, by automatically sending alerts to caregivers of patient activity/inactivity and other information like realtime temperature.
QMedic provides a smart bracelet that alerts caregivers when a user is not wearing the device, fails to get out of bed or is out of home/inactive for extended periods.
Airports – They are the world’s most visited buildings so there is an acute need to improve the way passengers and staff are moving inside them. Indoor navigation will be used to reduce costs and journey times.
Schools – Using an indoor location tracking system security teams and police can instantly see the location of teachers and students wearing Ekahau Wi-Fi badges. They can also be alerted when someone enters a restricted zone or send notifications in case of any danger.
Defence/Police/Fire/First Responders – Indoor positioning apps can reduce response time by transmitting the building, floor and specific room of a mobile emergency caller.
Guardly provides mobile apps that are allowing the user to quickly contact family, friends & local security teams. The app allows you to create safety groups and in case of an emergency Guardly will keep your safety network informed of your whereabouts – even if you’re on the move.
It’s still the early days for indoor positioning systems and apps and like in the case of GPS, we’ll witness a flood of applications and implementations in the coming years.