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We live in an era where everything is made easy. Travelling to unknown locations was made simple with the invention of the GPS. The GPS guides us step-by-step with plenty of instructions to reach our destination.
But what if our destination is a college with an unimaginably huge campus or a shopping mall with plenty of retail shops? Finding that one department block or one shop is still difficult. This has been made easy by Indoor Mapping Technologies.
With indoor mapping technologies, smartphone users can navigate through stores and can view the floor plans and aisle details. It will also change the way marketing is done. A user can notice that product coupons are being given out in a particular store and can receive that or find out where the product he is looking for is available in the store. This saves time, increases customer satisfaction and ultimately leads to more business.
Though indoor mapping is like a new extended feature to navigation, it is not as difficult to implement as digital cartography. Retail shops or other places to be indoor mapped have relatively small space and already have accurate interior maps in the form of architectural drawings or floor maps. These details have to be digitized.
The giant companies like Apple, Google, Nokia and Microsoft are showing interest in indoor mapping.
Apple acquired a company called WifiSlam which does indoor mapping through the use of WiFi signals. The WiFi signals are picked up by smartphones and the user’s location are shown on a map. This real time map has about 2.5m accuracy which is further enhanced as they move closer to the WiFi hotspots. This technology is now being deployed in hospitals, shopping malls, college campuses and a number of places.
Microsoft and Nokia developed their own indoor mapping technology which uses Bluetooth connections instead of WiFi signals. The Bluetooth signal updates the user’s location on a map. The map by Nokia is now used in over 3000 places including airports, convention centers and shopping malls.
Following the lead of the major big-shots, Google also has its own indoor mapping technology which uses WiFi signals, like Apple’s technology. The WiFi signals and mobile towers help to navigate the users indoor in places where GPS is not available.
Store owners and other businesses are encouraged to create an indoor map of their store and upload it on Google Maps. There are over 10,000 indoor maps available in Google Maps now.
Not just the big guys, but there are smaller companies like JibeStream who offer indoor navigation software and technology as well with features that are just as good, if not, better than what the bigger tech companies have available.
Not only are the big giants interested in indoor mapping, but so are the startups. Indoor mapping is proving to be the next big thing and startups have started developing their own technologies to do indoor mapping.
Indoor mapping aims to bridge the gap between online shopping and in-store shopping. It increases customer experience and navigating within places has never been easier. Indoor mapping is the future and every single place will soon be indoor mapped.