Mapping and Navigating the Great Indoors

One of the most popular topics at last year’s xlab: the Design of Location was what I like to call “the final frontier” of digital navigation: indoors. Google Maps has invested millions in capturing and digitizing our world and Google’s virtual globe has given us confidence to self-navigate unknown lands with our personal wayfinding devices: our smartphones. But as soon as we enter that airport, mall, or convention center, we are bereft of the tools we’ve grown to rely on.

BusinessWeek just published a great summary of the state-of-the-art of indoor mapping and navigation. The landscape changes daily (forgive the pun) and I believe the author overlooked a remarkable technology by the company Wifarer: orienting and directing within interior spaces by Wifi signal — no extra infrastructure required.

I wrote about the earliest efforts of interior navigation by smartphone in 2010 — Wayfinding in Your Pocket. I bet 2012 will be a very competitive year in this space, and we will all profit from these innovations — getting lost keeps getting harder!

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