Augmented Reality-Based Indoor Navigation Works

Augmented The proliferation of AR-based indoor navigation applications in different consumer sectors is estimated to experience tremendous growth in the coming years as technologies continue to evolve. As users increasingly become more digital-savvy and ready to apply new technologies in their everyday life.

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  • Introducing Augmented Reality Indoor Navigation
  • Available technologies for indoor user positioning
  • How to develop an AR-based indoor navigation app
  • The Future of AR indoor navigation
  • Final thoughts on AR indoor navigation adoption

There are many like Alex, a senior manager at a tech company. He was looking for an Apple Store, so he went to the Westfield Valley Fair, a midsize mall in the Silicon Valley. Which is easy to find via Google maps even if you’re not local. It took him 5 minutes to buy a new iPhone. But before that, he spent like 20 minutes walking around to find the store inside the mall. Despite using public maps placed on some type of citylights around the mall, it still could be a challenging task. As facilities are growing, the way people navigate is the same as decades ago.

As Alex shared the story, I was already digging into the indoor navigation topic. And, obviously, thought of beacons to save the World. After a year and a bunch of experiments, I don’t think that way anymore.

We believe there is a clear road map to success in the world of Augmented Reality technology especially when you consider that organizations are now moving from standard solutions such as face masks and AR games, and instead are going for custom solutions (think AR Indoor Navigation applications).

However, to achieve that success, business owners, project managers, CTOs, and CIOs must first gain a 360-degree view of this nascent technology and how it can seamlessly suit their particular needs.

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INTRODUCING AUGMENTED REALITY INDOOR NAVIGATION

Indoor navigation is quite different in terms of complexity compared to outdoor navigation. With outdoor navigation, millions of people currently use the technology as it doesn’t require much performance; modern smartphones and even smartwatches have built-in GPS and maps.

AR indoor navigation technology, on the other hand, is quite complex as it consists of 3 modules that have to be factored in; and these include Positioning, Mapping, and Rendering.

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Currently, Mapping is the only module that is straightforward. With a map and coordinates, it’s easy to make a route. This module is easy to upgrade and customize based on a given business use case/need.

Rendering module manages the design of AR content and its work directly depends on the precision of positioning. We can easily draw a route in 3D but face some challenges while matching the virtual objects with the real world. The quality and precision of rendering will grow along with the evolution of the ARKit.

But when it comes to Positioning, the situation becomes a little bit daunting. There’s no accurate way of determining the precise location of users indoors, including the exact floor. Determining the proper accuracy levels is also a challenge. For example, is 10 meters enough? What about 5 meters? Or 1 meter?

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AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGIES FOR INDOOR USER POSITIONING

Even though there exist a number of technologies for user positioning, most of them have a few disadvantages. Here’s a look at some of them.

GPS FOR INDOOR NAVIGATION

GPS is one of the existing technologies in the navigation space; however, it cannot provide accurate positioning inside a building. It’s relatively accurate in large and low-rise buildings, such as airports; but it can’t determine finer details such as the floor number, and the only way to achieve this is to do it manually, like the way it’s done with Apple & Google Maps. The takeaway here is GPS works but it’s not a viable solution.

VISUAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (VPS)

Visual Positioning System (VPS) – is advanced compared to the two and holds so much promise. Google, for example, uses Street View data to clarify a user’s position in AR-based Outdoor Navigation, using surrounding buildings as reference points.

Furthermore, ARKit 2 introduced the ARWorldMap class, which can also serve a similar purpose. The ARWorldMap is essentially a set of feature points around a user, like “the world’s fingerprint”, which can be recognized.

However, we can’t entirely rely only on ARWorldMap to determine the exact location for indoor navigation because:

  • Offices often look the same in different places, that is, rooms and corridors can be identical on different floors. Hence, it’s not always possible to determine the location visually.
  • Interiors may change, which might confuse the ARWorldMap.

Complex calculations can make this solution slow.

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HOW TO DEVELOP AN AR-BASED INDOOR NAVIGATION APP

Are you planning to deploy an AR-based indoor navigation application for your company? If your answer is yes, well that’s a good strategy. However, you need to first understand how to choose the right software company/team, how the development process looks like, what are the timelines, among other factors.

To start this process, ensure the augmented reality company you choose has the following team members: iOS/Android developers with ARKit/ARCore experience, UI/UX designers, a project manager and a QA engineer. Let’s take a closer look at each stage.

The pre-contract stage is where the software company gets to clarify the project requirements and Client’s business’ needs, brainstorm on efficient options, and thereafter, comes up with a technical strategy.

Business analysts and project managers work with product owners and stakeholders to create a consistent overall vision of the AR app, considering all the constraints of the project (think deadlines, budget, technology, corporate environment). Technical analysts provide an overview of the available development tools to narrow down the technology stack.

The Design stage consists of usual sketching, wireframing, mock-ups creation, 3D objects creation plus mapping. We’ll discuss mapping in detail shortly.

The Development stage involves creating a PoC (Proof of Concept) to test the idea and the result in minimum time; and if needed, a mocked (hard-coded) route and custom features (think voice recognition) are also created. For AR app development, it will mean go with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore software development kits depending on the project requirements. Based on our experience, ARKit may give more accurate results and has more features.

How To Create a GPS Tracking Application?

GPS Tracking With GPS or Global Positioning System, the method of tracking has got to be easier where you can easily find where something is. Of course, even now there are people who still give such broken directions, most of the times, we just prefer to send them our location pin that shows where we are exactly standing. And that is the beauty of GPS tracking.

GPS Tracking

To find a specific place, we certainly don’t require a road map or to ask unknown people for directions. Our smartphones have all the capabilities to guide us toward the particular place we want and tell the exact place that we are looking — A nearby drug store, restaurant, etc. For businesses, location-based tracking services provide a comprehensive suite of opportunities also — Right from improved customer services to detailed marketing and greater in-store traffic.

Now, before we start getting deeper into the technical stuff, there is another essential question that you have to ask yourself: What do we have to build a GPS tracking app at all?

What is the purpose of your GPS Tracking application?

The main purpose of a location tracking app is to get information about the person’s current place and pinpoint the exact position. However, this information and functionalities can be utilized in multiple ways across industries and here are some of the instances for your understanding:

  • GPS location tracking can be combined with time tracking to determine your remote employees’ efficiency and performance. Also, it’s up to you if you want to integrate automatic reporting and payment depending on the extra time they did. That’s it. You now have an effective and robust employee management tool.
  • Location tracking is frequently utilized to streamline fleet management operations. Users can offer their drivers with mapping and routing functionalities and through the app, produce reports and forward warnings if there is an emergency scenario. In situations like these, a GPS tracking app completely rules out the requirement to buy and download GPS handheld electronics.
  • You can create a GPS tracker application for outdoor and sports enthusiasts so that they can organize their everyday routes, get statements on the distance, and ensure never left behind.

User Privacy — Important Concern

Many times, users find that the rate of access to their location data surprising and feel like they are being followed by their own smartphone.

Read also: THREE LEGAL WAYS TO TRACK A CELL PHONE

Also, a study by Pew Research Center says that in most of the situations, people feel completely normal regarding giving their personal information against some personalized deals or any other tangible benefits and on the other side there are scenarios where such close monitoring becomes too intimidating.

  • Almost 45 percent of participants said that it is highly unacceptable for insurance companies to provide them surveilling their driving practices and provide deals or discounts for safe driving.
  • More than 50 percent felt uncertain about social media networking applications which collect their exact location and other related info and utilize it to send them personalized ads or even trade it with 3rd-parties.
  • 55 percent of participants said that they never even think of installing s “Smart thermostat” as it would pursue their in-house actions and make its own temperature changes/modifications to minimize the electricity bill.

If you indeed want to build a GPS tracking application then ensure that your location-based functionalities really offers some great benefits for your customers. Put your theories to test with your customer pool clearly and tell them why they should choose to share their locations with you.

Know-How Mobile Location is Received

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Now, how to develop GPS tracking apps which are exact enough? Let us take a detailed look at what affects the quality of data in this scenario:

  • Users’ actions and the frequency of re-evaluations have to be conducted as and when the user changes his or her position.
  • The multitude of location references.
  • Wi-Fi, Cell-ID, Network data, and GPS can provide data on the users’ location. But depending on just either of the choices can be a bit difficult as they each have their own speed, exactitude, and battery efficiency.

The last two can result in unfolding prevalence of assisted GPS — A method which utilizes both GPS and network data to receive location data. Google Maps and some other map apps usually utilize this style and recommend to connect your device to the network for an enhanced positioning.

Another concern for this GPS tracking application development is that location data received 10 seconds past from one channel could be more exact than the present location received from another channel. Such stabilization might be needed to obtain accurate information.

APIs for Location-based Services

If your GPS app customers are iOS users, then you need to compare the Core Location Framework and related APIs before you start doing anything else. This will let you identify the user’s status and direction, design, and plan the delivery of place and managing events, create a geofence if it is required and make sure the application works with iBecaons.

Thinking about a GPS application for Android users? Well, in this case, elements are a little less easy since there are two distinct approaches to receive the users’ location on this platform:

  • Utilizing Google Play services location APIs
  • Utilizing Android framework location APIs

Below are a couple of tips for app developers to take into consideration:

Android Location API

This earlier released API utilizes 3 separate providers to receive user’s position data:

  • LocationManager.GPS_PROVIDER identifies location utilizing satellites and takes some time to deliver the information.
  • LocationManager.NETWORK_PROVIDER identifies location depending on the reachability of a cell reception tower and Wi-Fi access networks.
  • LocationManager.PASSIVE_PROVIDER returns location produced by different providers. You indirectly obtain locations’ updates when rest apps or services ask them without having to request the location yourself.

Google Play Services Location APIs

Nowadays, Google is actively promoting this choice as a robust, less-battery consumption solution and dynamic solution for identifying user’s location. It is a component of Google Play Services APK and is developed on best Android’s APIs.

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The provider automatically chooses which location channel to utilize depending on the efficiency and battery utilization and lets set up more cutting-edge features such as geofencing.