The best way to describe indoor wayfinding technology is that it’s like a GPS system for interior environments. Indoor navigation can be used to locate people or things inside larger facilities such as hospitals, schools, government buildings, and many others. An indoor positioning system (IPS) uses technologies such as mounted beacons that are correlated to accurately establish a user’s location. IPS systems can determine which way a person moves and help them navigate a pathway.
How it works
An indoor positioning system uses feedback from these beacons in connection with mathematical algorithms which work by testing different outcomes according to the user’s movements. Used with apps that plot the floorplans of a particular location, the IPS can guide users to a chosen destination, in some cases so precisely that they can find a specified product on a store shelf.
For the best results these systems employee all three components:
1. A dynamic positioning software system to interpret signals.
2. A network of beacons that broadcast signals which can be picked up by other devices.
3. An app that interacts with these systems within a defined environment to create, essentially, a GPS for indoors.
Proximity vs IPS
Solutions using proximity beacons for location detect when a smart phone is close to a beacon and push a signal to it establishing the users location at that particular beacon. The users path will be determined by the next beacon signal.
IPSs identify a particular position across an entire area. Geofences, or location boundaries, are not determined by the location of beacons but can be anywhere within a wider area of any size, which can be seen as virtual indoor maps.
Guiding visitors to their destination using this technology is a vast improvement over the traditional means of navigating complex environments, such as numerous “You are here” maps or office listings. Given the large number of smart phones in use across Canada, millions of residents can now download an app for a specific destination and be guided to whatever specific destination they seek.
IPS systems are not only good for customer satisfaction, but programmed systems allow companies to tailor their message or offers to users according to their searches. It can also help employees such as sales people, security guards or maintenance personnel reach specific destinations as needed. Companies can also study traffic flow to better understand customer habits and employee workflow.
An indoor positioning system is a cost-effective means of improving customer experience and employee efficiency for businesses as varied as the giant West Edmonton Mall to a local grocery store. Indoor navigation systems are a useful and flexible tool for data-driven decisions that can boost profit margins.