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Everything You Need to Know About Indoor Navigation Mobile Apps

August 29, 2022 No Comments

Featured article by Evelina Brown

A modern mobile user can easily build a route to the necessary place using GPS maps on their smartphones. However, GPS works effectively only in the open air since satellite signals hardly penetrate walls. How to solve this problem inside buildings? Many public buildings, such as airports and hospitals, occupy large squares, which complicates the search for points of interest (PoI). In this case, indoor navigation software that is integrated into the mobile application comes to help. Using their smartphones, users can create digital maps of buildings and quickly find their points of interest.

What is indoor navigation?

Indoor navigation is a technology that ensures precise positioning and wayfinding inside buildings where GPS cannot work properly. Mobile maps powered by indoor positioning systems (IPS) can tell your exact position within a building or a campus and where you can find your destination location.

According to the statistics, in 2017, the world market for indoor navigation accounted for 6.92 bln US dollars. It is forecasted that, at the current rate of development, by the year 2023 it will have reached 23.6 bln. Every year more and more companies and enterprises are striving to integrate indoor navigation into their premises. The reason for its popularity lies in the fact that the system not only defines the location of objects but also helps to build routes, provides detailed analytics of premises, and allows optimizing business processes by implementing location-based analytics.

Principle of applications with the function of indoor navigation

In contrast to GPS technology, based on satellite signals, the system of indoor wayfinding uses radio waves, ultrasound, or infrared signals from sensors. Such impulses easily penetrate walls and help to calculate the location of objects with high accuracy. Depending on the applied technology, accuracy can vary, on average, from 5m to 5-30 cm.

To ensure the platform’s efficiency, several things are required – a smartphone with the pre-installed indoor mapping app, beacons or sensors for sending out radio signals, and internal servers for processing data. Beacons are installed in various places in the building and at regular intervals send out radio signals detected by special readers and directed to the server. Then, the processed information is delivered to users’ smartphones and helps to define the location.

Special indoor mapping software that can be customized according to the needs and targets of a particular enterprise is used for developing the mobile indoor wayfinding app. Thanks to the integration of indoor navigation into the app, it is possible to ensure immediate interaction with users and provide a wide scale of location-based services.

Technologies for navigation system implementation

Projects with the indoor navigation system can be based on various tools. Nowadays most companies apply the following technologies:

Bluetooth LE – a protocol of wireless communication functioning in tandem with Bluetooth beacons. Sensors work autonomously and define the location with an accuracy of up to 1-5 m. Their radio signals can be supported by all iOS and Android devices. The number of beacons to be installed inside buildings depends on the number of walls and the general square of the place.

Wi-Fi – doesn’t require the installation of additional equipment since it can function on the basis of the already existing points of access. Localization is carried out using MAC addresses and RSSI, which lets the platform calculate the location of a person or object with an accuracy of up to 5-10 m.

How can businesses and clients benefit from apps with indoor navigation?

Indoor navigation is beneficial both for enterprises and end clients. Thanks to the widespread use of smartphones, access to mobile apps can be granted to many users, which expands the possibilities of the platform and makes it an effective tool for business development or comprehensive workflow analytics. If necessary, they can receive push notifications that can deliver any useful information – adverts, information about goods or services.

The use of navigation systems ensures safety in enterprises. The platform sends out warnings about emergencies and informs about potential obstacles on the way. Moreover, it can help to develop the shortest exit routes from buildings in case of emergency or direct the nearest employees to the place of incident.

Using positioning-powered mobile apps, enterprises can get detailed information about objects’ movements and equipment downtime, which opens more opportunities for making the right managerial decisions.

Mobile apps with integrated solutions for indoor navigation and wayfinding can provide various benefits for the following industries:

Shopping centers. Customers get store cards with information about the location of goods, which allows for searching for the necessary product. Purchasing becomes more convenient and faster for clients, which increases their loyalty to shopping centers and leads to profit growth.

Airports. By using the mobile app, passengers can get maps of buildings and create routes to points of interest – box offices, cafes, toilets, etc. The airport management gets the possibility to monitor internal processes, and track the traffic of employees and equipment, which improves the quality of customer service and occupational safety.

Healthcare institutions. Using indoor navigation software, it is possible to build routes around the place, track medical equipment, and monitor room occupancy. It also improves patient satisfaction and helps to personalize the experience, using location-based alerts for patients.

Museums. Visitors just have to use the mobile application to find any hall or exhibit inside the building. The system makes it possible to provide users with useful multimedia content, which improves people’s cultural experience, positively affecting a museum’s reputation.

Universities. Using the platform, students can easily find the necessary rooms and avoid being late for lectures. It can also be a great asset for comprehensive analytics, based on foot traffic and heat maps.

How much does it cost to develop an application with indoor navigation?

The cost of an application with the function of indoor navigation depends on many factors. The price can be influenced by the applied technology, the number of installed sensors and beacons, and the aims of the project realization.

You should be aware that in addition to the development of a new program, navigation can be integrated into ready-made applications. It speeds up business processes and allows companies to considerably save money. The integration is realized using SDK which is a set of algorithms for solving geolocation-based tasks. Its use expands the possibilities of applications and grants them an effective function for indoor navigation.

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