Indoor positioning software can elevate your indoor mapping experience. Users can view their real-time position within the map and venues can use positioning data and analytics to improve their business.
An indoor positioning system (IPS) can be thought of as GPS for indoor venues. Using a variety of methods, these systems can detect real-time locations to determine the coordinates of people or assets inside a building. These coordinates are typically represented visually by a blue dot on a digital indoor map to provide additional context to users and features such as wayfinding.
Shopping malls, offices, hospitals, retailers, warehouses, and more can benefit from indoor positioning. These industries can provide an enhanced blue dot experience that mirrors the one offered in outdoor environments.
It is important to understand that indoor positioning and indoor mapping are different but complementary services. By integrating IPS with a digital map, businesses can provide enhanced mapping features including custom starting location, turn-by-turn directions, follow mode, proximity messaging, and more. However, indoor positioning without an indoor map is rendered nearly useless for any visualization purposes.
The key difference between these two technologies is that indoor mapping helps to visualize an indoor space, while indoor positioning locates a user's current real-time position within a particular and defined map. In short, venues can have an indoor map without indoor positioning, but not the other way around.
Using a variety of techniques, indoor positioning technology detects the precise location of a user's device. This can be accomplished using "on-device" systems accessed directly through your mobile device, or paired with sensors installed throughout an indoor space.
The combination of these two techniques is called "Sensor Fusion" and tends to be the most accurate approach to indoor positioning today. The location coordinates are ingested by these positioning systems which then generate accurate, real-time coordinates which are displayed on an indoor map, enhancing the indoor experience.
Using accurate positioning in an indoor environment allows businesses to provide new efficiencies and experiences, such as:
With IPS, users can see their precise location represented by a blue dot within the context of an indoor map. Similar to outdoor GPS, users are not required to enter a "start" destination and as they begin to follow along a route, the blue dot moves with them, providing an enhanced navigational experience.
Indoor spaces such as hospitals, warehouses, offices, and even buildings under construction can leverage IPS to track important assets. Documents, employees, building material, and equipment can be visualized in real-time on a map. Indoor location tracking and positioning can significantly increase efficiencies and reduce errors in these spaces.
Indoor positioning solutions allow businesses to pull an accurate location of employees in real-time, which can be combined with spatial and temporal analysis to identify potential contact events. These solutions are helping to make indoor spaces safer.
Smart Building Applications
By enabling wayfinding, asset tracking, and contact monitoring through IPS, buildings are able to create a network of connected devices and experiences. Together, these pieces allow buildings to get a true picture of their venue and expose areas of improvement.
Apple's IPS utilizes the radio frequency (RF) patterns of your Wi-Fi access points enabling an infrastructure-free solution. This technology achieves GPS-level accuracy in indoor spaces by simply performing an RF survey of your venue.
Apple and Google released Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specifications for iBeacons and Eddystone beacons, respectively. These offer similar proximity to WiFi access point providers.
Existing Wi-Fi access point providers (APs) like Cisco and Aruba have added geofencing and proximity capabilities to their enterprise offering. Users on the network running an enabled application can determine their rough location indoors.
Sensors can be added to your venue to locate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth/BLE along with cellular signals to enhance the WiFi-based location systems. This can help to increase the overall accuracy of your positioning system, however, comes with an added hardware cost.
Onboard motion sensors built into every cell phone estimate user positions by sensing physical motion and last known position.
Sensor Fusion combines multiple of these positioning services to provide an even more accurate experience.
Infrastructure-free systems rely solely on a user's mobile device and the WiFi within a venue. Apple’s indoor positioning is an example of this as it uses your existing WiFi to achieve GPS-level accuracy in indoor spaces by using the radio frequency (RF) patterns of your WiFi access points.
Infrastructure-free in this case also equates to a low setup and maintenance cost. Positioning systems that utilize hardware such as beacons can be implemented to supplement infrastructure-free solutions but can come with a large price tag both to set up and maintain over time.
When deciding on the indoor positioning provider that will work best for your business, there are four key factors to evaluate. Outlining your goals for each of these will enable you to build the appropriate indoor positioning system with the right provider.
What is the realistic expectation under normal or sub-optimal conditions? For reference, the accuracy of assisted GPS is approximately three meters outdoors.
How much will it cost to implement, own, and maintain? For example, your implementation and ownership costs may be low, but the system might require a lot of maintenance at an additional cost.
How long does it take for the system to respond? For example, on-device calculations are faster than server-side ones, because of the latency involved for the signal to travel there and back.
How well will the solution function indoors? New systems sometimes get a pass when they start out buggy, but navigation is often mission-critical.
There are many indoor positioning systems available today. To find the provider that is best suited for your business, it's important to understand what you want to use these real-time location systems for and ensure you have an indoor mapping foundation to visualize these systems on top of. Many IPS specialize in specific industries and can cater to the needs of your building and use case. Below are some of the notable providers available.
For infrastructure-free indoor positioning: Apple. For indoor positioning that uses the Sensor Fusion approach: IndoorAtlas, Inpixon, Senion and Here Technologies.
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IPS technology detects the precise location of a user's device. This can be accomplished using "on-device" systems accessed directly through your mobile device, or paired with sensors installed throughout an indoor space. The combination of these two techniques is called "Sensor Fusion" and tends to be the most accurate approach to indoor positioning today.
Indoor positioning analytics can highlight real-time events within a space for a variety of purposes. For example, tracking important assets such as documents, building material, equipment, employees, etc. can be used to increase efficiencies. Indoor positioning analytics can also highlight how people move around your indoor space and expose ways that your business can optimize its space.
When deciding on the indoor positioning provider that will work best for your business, there are four key factors to evaluate:
Indoor location technology enables indoor positioning systems through a network of devices used to locate people or objects where GPS and other satellite technologies fail. It is important to also consider indoor mapping as part of indoor location technology since it is a key component to visualizing indoor positioning data.
The accuracy of WiFi positioning can vary based on many factors however, most businesses are aiming for ~4M of accuracy. This is doable depending on your WiFi configuration. Venues with Wi-Fi that have many access points and consider the location of these access points (taking room size, open space, etc. into consideration), and consistent signal strength gives an IPS the best chance for ~4M of accuracy. A venue’s commitment to strong network infrastructure is the foundation of an accurate Blue Dot position.
The accuracy of GPS indoors will vary and depend on building size, layout, levels, and material. Although traditional GPS may work in some indoor instances, this technology was not intended to penetrate indoor spaces. It is best to work with an indoor mapping or positioning provider who can supplement these challenges.
A large variety of techniques and devices are used to provide indoor positioning ranging from reconfigured devices already deployed such as mobile devices, WiFi, and Bluetooth; to purpose-built installations with beacons that are strategically placed throughout an indoor venue.Infrastructure-free systems rely solely on a user's mobile device and the WiFi within a venue and can equate to a low setup and maintenance cost. Positioning systems that utilize hardware such as beacons can be implemented to supplement infrastructure-free solutions but can come with a large price tag both to set up and maintain over time.
Apple's infrastructure-free indoor positioning system is free! The only cost that should be considered is the mapping visualization layer underneath that positioning system and the time to implement it. Contact us today to find out more about these specific costs and timelines.
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