Maybe you’ve heard the term “indoor GPS” and been caught by surprise. If you know how GPS works, you know that it isn’t yet capable of working indoors; the signals from satellites can’t make it through solid objects to your smartphone or tablet to give you a location. It’s the same reason navigating through urban areas with tall buildings is tricky, and why you temporarily lose your directions when you drive through a tunnel.
All the same, one of the hottest navigational topics today is “indoor GPS.” Although the term is misleading, it has gained traction, and in fact the term GPS has already gained a place in our language as a representation of reliable direction. Basically, people enjoy the advantages of real GPS so much that they are disappointed when they enter a large shopping mall and have to find their way on their own. With today’s advances in technology, why can’t we get the same kind of navigation indoors?
As enterprising as humans are, it was inevitable that they would find a way to satisfy this demand. The first indoor navigation systems function, not by looking to a satellite as a reference point, but by using IP addresses, wireless network hubs, and other stationary signal-producing objects inside the building. The results are not quite as reliable or accurate as GPS tracking devices, but they are quickly improving.
Meridian, a leader in the indoor GPS field, has created a powerful tool that will allow businesses to create applications using their sophisticated navigational software. For example, if you visit an airport, you could download the corresponding application and find a fully navigable map of the floor plan. Just as if you were using a real GPS device, you can enter your destination and enjoy turn-by-turn instructions for reaching it.
Testing of this newly released software has focused on three types of buildings that are some of the most difficult to map and navigate: a hospital, an airport, and a giant department store in New York City. The success of the testing has Meridian and potential developers excited about giving visitors what they want: the same easy, reliable navigation that they enjoy via real GPS when they are outdoors.