Navigating your way around an unfamiliar indoor area can be disorienting. Perhaps even a bit more challenging than exploring a new city. After all, there’s a wealth of navigation systems for outdoor spaces. Meanwhile, not all establishments have indoor navigation systems. That’s because GPS doesn’t work as well indoors. Plus, indoor spaces are far more complex. Fortunately, augmented reality and other immersive technologies make indoor wayfinding possible.
What Is AR Wayfinding?
Augmented reality wayfinding serves as a digital guide. The technology superimposes digital information onto a real-world setting in real-time. Using a mobile device, people can navigate their way around inherently complex indoor spaces such as healthcare facilities, college campuses, airports, and shopping centers.
Thanks to advanced Bluetooth beacons and smartphones, we can enjoy AR wayfinding experiences. AR wayfinding apps can show directional prompts. For instance, they can recommend the most efficient routes. They can even successfully usher users to the opposite side of the building even when it’s packed with people.
AR wayfinding apps can give you an interactive tour around the indoor area. Aside from enabling turn-by-turn navigation, it can show potential hazards in the environment. It can also highlight the amount of time it takes to get to your destination. An AR-powered wayfinding app can even show you points of interest along the route you decide to take. Much like Google Maps traffic alerts, it can streamline customer flow in crowded commercial establishments. AR can direct visits to less crowded stores, significantly reducing wait times in these busy areas.
That’s not even all. The immersive technology might be a visual delight, but it can also make the experience more convenient for the visually impaired. By enhancing turn-by-turn audio prompts, even the visually challenged can get to their destination with ease.
AR Indoor Wayfinding Systems
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy, a 14-year-old innovator, is one of many developers dabbling with augmented reality wayfinding. He is the youngest inventor to receive a Microsoft sponsorship for creating apps for HoloLens. Currently, he is developing an indoor navigation system with augmented reality, WaypointAR.
The application aims to help people get around a particular environment. Using the Mapbox Styling Platform, it can track your specific location within a building and overlay waypoints to create a path towards your destination. This wayfinding system can be integrated into other mobile apps, enabling airports, universities, and commercial businesses to deliver an extraordinary user experience.
There are other existing augmented reality indoor wayfinding systems. Gatwick Airport, for example, has installed 2,000 beacons for AR wayfinding. Whether foreign or local, users can use the app to find their way around the airport. They can easily locate the check-in counter or the nearest restaurant. Thanks to the app, they’ll never miss a flight as it sends passengers reminders. It also shows people where they can pick up their luggage.
As airports, hospitals, universities, and other indoor spaces become more complex, the need for indoor navigation systems increases. The lack of GPS support in indoor environments has always made this challenging. But with augmented reality, nothing is impossible anymore.
AR indoor wayfinding apps enhance user experience through its many – current and future – applications. Such systems can significantly improve many areas of our lives. From navigating our way around airports to shopping centers, AR can lead us to our destination much faster than ever before.