Indoor navigation is not nearly as popular as its outdoor counterpart, but it is just as revolutionary, and will significantly transform industries and lives in surprising ways. Here are a few applications of indoor localization that will change our society in the coming years.
Increased Independence for the Blind
GPS technology has transformed how blind travelers navigate their world. But, while outdoor spaces have received much attention, indoor maps have long been neglected. A blind person can independently navigate to an airport, but would find it difficult crossing its complex indoor space to find a terminal or gate. Further, many individual locations within an area can be complicated to imagine, and traditional maps are inadequate for providing the rich support needed to independently perform tasks.
Thanks to a variety of indoor navigation technologies, this is beginning to change. Blind smartphone users can use GPS for indoors applications to seamlessly transition from outdoor navigation to indoor beacon-based systems. With indoor navigation, visually impaired pedestrians can plot routes through crowded indoor locations, receiving turn-by-turn routes along with descriptions of amenities to independently and competently engage with their environments. In addition to locating landmarks, some indoor localization technologies include text-based descriptions of bathrooms, shops, and other areas for which a simple set of points would be insufficient.
Augmenting Augmented Reality
Augmented reality refers to the process of overlaying visual, audio, and text cues over a person's view of the world around them, either onto video or via a head-mounted display. Position and orientation are key to providing a good experience, as the augmentations must be placed exactly for the best effect.
While traditional GPS is accurate enough for augmented reality when outside, signal attenuation significantly reduces its effectiveness inside. Augmented reality engines powered by indoor localization sidestep this issue. As such, indoor positioning brings AR technologies into museums, labs, and other indoor environments where it may prove useful but is currently less accurate.
Indoor Autonomous Vehicles
Self-driving cars are often in the news, but indoor vehicles are essential in many industries. Airports, warehouses, and factories rely on fleets of small-scale vehicles to efficiently transport cargo and people. Not only must these vehicles contend with each other, but they must also navigate a landscape that changes by the day, or even by the minute.
Fortunately, building an autonomous indoor vehicle is significantly easier than its outdoor counterpart. But indoor localization is a crucial component of any workable solution. Not only must indoor maps be accurate, but they must also be easy to update when new cargo arrives or if a space is temporarily reconfigured. With a solid indoor localization platform, autonomous vehicles can travel through indoor areas with little to no human intervention.