Indoor navigation involves map reading within buildings. Since GPS reception does not exist within buildings, experts use other positioning technologies when automatic positioning is desired. Often, beacons and WiFi are used in the creation of GPS indoors. Contrary to GPS, WiFi and beacons help one to determine the actual floor level. Nonetheless, indoor mapping is impossible without automatic positioning. For example, location hardware such as WiFi and beacons is not required when a digital building map is integrated with a digital signage system.
Types of indoors navigation
Automatic indoor map reading
It is used as a client-based app to determine the location via WiFi and beacons using a smartphone. Furthermore, it has a feedback channel used for sending push notifications. While the server-based approach is possible with automatic indoor navigation, it comes with technical challenges.
WiFi-based indoor map reading
It has an accuracy of 5-15 meters. Indoor map reading with WiFi uses shielding characteristics to determine the positioning over multiple floors. Its advantage is that you can use the available infrastructure such as routers, customer hotspots, and WiFi-capable point of sale systems. Apart from activating WiFi on a smartphone, no connection is required. However, indoor navigation with WiFi does not support Apple devices; therefore, use beacons as an alternative positioning technology to avoid excluding the users of Apple devices.
Beacons-based indoor map reading
With an accuracy of 1-3 meters, indoor map reading with beacons is widespread because Bluetooth transmitters function across platforms. The most common Bluetooth transmission platforms are Eddystone from Google and iBeacon from Apple. Both use BLE standard to enhance energy efficiency.
Indoor navigation with Ultra-wideband
With an accuracy of 10-30 cm, indoor mapping with Ultra-wideband is considerably better than WiFi and beacons indoor mapping. It has a low latency time of up to 100 times. Contrary to beacons and WiFi, Ultra-wideband measures height differences accurately. However, Ultra-wideband positioning technology requires specific components; thus, suitable for industrial apps. Compared to beacons and WiFi, Ultra-wideband indoor positioning system is more cost-intensive, especially if installed in the same area.
Applications of indoor mapping
Although indoor mapping is always called for during the navigation of complex buildings, its navigation function comes with exceptional services.
In airports, for example, indoor maps can be used in the transmission of personalized coupons; displays of current time waits, and support the entire intermodal travel chain.
In train stations, indoor mapping technology can be used to inform visitors regarding track changes and current delays.
Facility management teams and drivers of floor conveyors use indoor mapping technology when navigating in industrial areas.
Hospitals use indoor maps to integrate barrier-free routing, treatment schedules, and booking of additional services into their patients’ apps.
Modern firefighters use GPS for indoors when they are under restricted visibility and hostile conditions to display a rapid and secure orientation on the target while updating the commanders about the position of all people in the area of operation. The potential of indoor navigation for the military is significant as well. The military uses a foot-mounted inertial sensor to determine the position.