Sunday, March 18, 2012

App Provides Navigation Inside Stores


Imagine it: you walk into the store with a short grocery list in mind. You input the items in your phone and an app immediately maps out the most efficient route to each item on your list. You follow the flashing blue dot from one item to the next, and the phone vibrates on occasion, alerting you to coupons and advertisements for relevant products as you walk past. This might be the indoor GPS of the future, and it’s available now.

Indoor GPS has been a buzz word for a while now, and several companies have put forth ideas for mapping and navigating indoors where satellites are pretty useless. Concepts have ranged to everything from Bluetooth beacons, WiFi signals and even sound waves with varying success. Recently, IndoorAtlas and Sanginfo have debuted an app that uses the Earth’s magnetic field and crowdsourced data to create maps and navigate through them.

iphoneThe app is creatively named GPSindoor and is available now for download for iPhone users. The company says that other platforms should be coming soon. The app itself is free and beta testers have been working with it since 2014 in San Francisco and around the world. The company’s lofty goal is to map every building in the world.

“As more and more shoppers use the app, the maps and promotional information will become more robust and accurate over time,” said Wibe Wagemans, President of IndoorAtlas in a press release. “We are leveraging the power of people to make for a better shopping experience to find stuff. I see every mall, airport, train station, casino, hotel, conference center connected, mapped through this.”

I haven’t tried it out yet, but the press release states that the navigation is expected to have an accuracy of 1 – 2 meters and should allow shoppers to find products, stores, promotions and public utilities inside of locations. Anyone can upload a new map, and the product advertising is reportedly an opt-in procedure.

Of course, with an accuracy of up to 2 meters (which is about 6 feet), I personally wonder if this app is really going help me find the peanut butter any faster than just reading the signs hanging over the grocery aisle. Regardless, it looks like location-specific advertising is officially here, and it’s only going to become more ubiquitous. I just hope that the smartphone zombie plague won’t explode as well.

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