Google Maps, with its turn-by-turn directions, has been a godsend to drivers without a sense of direction. But GPS-based apps can’t always help you find your way around a big indoor space, like a mall or hospital.Now researchers think they’ve found a way to create apps that can tell you how to navigate indoors, even when GPS is unavailable.
The technology that will underpin these apps is called Wi-Fi fingerprinting, reports Tekla Perry on The IEEE Spectrum blog.
This week, KAIST, The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, showcased a new way to build a map from Wi-Fi radio signals. It doesn’t require accompanying GPS location data or a manually uploaded map of the building. Instead, it used Wi-Fi signal strengths to determine a smartphone’s location as it traveled around an area. The researchers put software on a phone that was able to track the Wi-Fi signals from other smartphones in the vicinity, similar to how Google uses smartphones to determine traffic jams.
Researchers realise there are a potential privacy issues that would have to be worked out before they can build indoor maps by tracking smartphones in this way. But they are optimistic all the same.
If researchers can figure it out, expect indoor mapping to become a big thing in 2013.
Google and a startup named Micello have rolled out indoor maps, but they mostly use uploaded maps data.