Forget trying to locate the Mona Lisa at the Louvre… find me the nearest restroom!
If you have kids, you know instantly the panic associated with the words, "Daddy, I have to go…!" Ok, enough said.
So, what can you do about it? Indoor positioning and navigation has been on the back burner when compared to location-based social networking. Matching the technology with data hasn’t exactly been easy to integrate. GPS doesn’t work indoors and RFID doesn’t exactly solve the problem. RF Ultra-wide band (UWB) technology in general has its own issues with deployment and expense (See Q-Track).
Within the last few weeks, I’ve been reading more and more about apps that are getting much closer to being "consumerized." A few weeks ago, we published my interview with Tristian Lacroix on these issues and its a useful review of what’s been going on to solve the indoor positioning challenges. And we’ll soon publish an interview with Point Inside’s Brian Wilson on the deployment of his company’s technology at retailer Meijer that maps this grocer’s store floor and guides customers to specific product aisles. Think about it… no more wondering where to find the Skippy Peanut Butter!
Then, in today’s New York Times, there is an article on an iPhone apps specifically for navigating your way around the Metropolitan Museum Modern Art and the American Museum of Natural History, both in New York, as well as museums in other cities. The combination of tour guide and navigation is supremely appealing. Although the article does not specifically mention augmented reality (AR) (see this informative article by Timo Elliot of SAP on AR) as means of either guiding or informing, enhancing these apps with AR can’t be far behind.
And, it should elicit discussion on who pays for these kinds of positioning apps for malls, museums, and other facilities. In addition, should they be linked to social networking apps like Foursquare so that if you "check in" to the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for Chinese Decorative Arts on the 3rd floor of the "Met" your wife will know if you have the kids with you! Anyway, you get the point. The integration of indoor navigation technology with floor maps, tourist information and the means to find your friends is well on its way toward mainstream adoption.