The 3 Basic Technologies Behind Indoor Navigation Apps

  • Posted on: 8 December 2016
  • By: admin

When you're driving from your office to a new lunch location or taking a cross-country trip to a different state you'll likely use GPS to navigate. Utilizing GPS helps you figure out where you are, where you're going, and how to get there. But what if you're inside a mall or a train station? How would you find your way to Gate 4B in an airport by using GPS? You can't. However, indoor navigation technology is a way to provide and utilize a GPS-type function inside a building.

The GPS Problem

The problem with tapping into standard GPS technologies in order to help people navigate around a building, though, is that most people can't get a GPS signal indoors. This is particularly true in buildings where you have to go underground or where existing structures block GPS signal. The developers of indoor navigation systems, however, have found three ways to get around this problem.

Indoor Navigation Via Wi-Fi

One way you can provide indoor navigation services is to utilize Wi-Fi, something most people have on their smartphones. Using Wi-Fi and connecting it to an app can help users navigate the interior of a building or structure without needing GPS.

Indoor Navigation Via Beacons

Bluetooth can also come to the rescue when dealing with the lack of GPS signal indoors. Beacons work based on BLE standards, or Bluetooth Low Energy, which means they sync with every phone that operates Bluetooth. Since Bluetooth is accurate within one to three meters, it makes for a great alternative to GPS when navigating indoors.

Indoor Navigation Via Ultra-wideband

Ultra-wideband is arguably the best option for navigating indoors because it's accurate within centimeters instead of meters. Additionally, there's a very low lag time because it requests positions up to 100 times a second. It can also measure height differences, allowing apps to detect floor level and other pertinent information.

All of these technologies are excellent ways to help visitors travel indoors. Utilizing these technologies, businesses, airports, train stations, malls, and many other establishments will be able to guide their visitors with ease via smartphone apps. Arguments could be made for applications in education, as well, allowing teachers to become their own docents, easily guiding their class through an aquarium or zoo.