Indoor Mapping via WiFi from Google Maps

Posted by | December 07, 2011 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Those of you with Android phones are getting an update for the Maps application bringing it to version 6.0. With this comes the ability for it to provide your location inside of a building – at least in those few locations that have been mapped by the Google team. Currently these venues are a few airports and shopping malls, like the ginormous 500 store Mall of America. Their announcement comes just after Black Friday, the most shopped time of the year & a little late to make a dent, but interesting nonetheless.

To find your location inside of a building, the Google Maps application uses the WiFi access points that span malls and airport halls, using radio waves to determine the floor and spot that you are approximately in front of. It will not have the specificity that GPS does, as WiFi signals were not designed originally for this type of use, but will give you the general area where you can find yourself. Since GPS signals do not penetrate the roof of buildings, WiFi is a good fall-back technology.

Google Maps before on the left, and with interior capabilities on the right

We at NeuAer use these WiFi signals, along with Bluetooth and Near Field (NFC) to trigger events within our Proximity Platform. We don’t necessarily know where you are, as we do not have the corresponding physical space map that Google does, nor do we care to know where you are. Developers using our proximity platform use those same radio waves that Google uses for maps to trigger things within their software or even up to the cloud.

Knowing where you are in a building is one thing. Having your phone act upon where you are in a building is what we at NeuAer believe is paramount to making your smart phone truly smart. This is partially because going to stores like IKEA are the bane of our existence, so much that we like to traverse their stores backwards – from the exit to the front.

Here’s an example video on how Google aims to make that trip to find your particleboard furniture a little bit easier. IKEA and Google indoor maps

If you want to try it out on your on Android phone, here are the current launch locations which support the indoor map data: Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Daimaru, Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations and more. Airports like the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT) in Japan.

So try it out and let us know if you can find the bathrooms any easier. You can find us at the “You Are Here” sticker on the analog map!

Here is the original story from the Google Blog.

On a more somber note, our best wishes go out to the family of Charles Walton, the inventor of RFID or Radio Frequency ID tags, who passed away on November 6th. These wireless reader-powered ID chips are a precursor to NFC (Near Field Communication) tags that we use as yet another trigger our NeuAer API.
The story on his passing from Venturebeat.com

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