As you probably already know, GPS technology is pretty much useless once you’re inside of a building, so companies are working on ways to provide directional and navigational information while indoors. One very promising technology has been demonstrated by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).
The technology uses visible light communication (VLC), pedestrian dead-reckoning (PDR) and map matching algorithms to determine the location and direction an individual is facing while indoors. In this demonstration video, we see a subject walking through a mall, and a 3D model of the same location closely replicating the individual’s location and direction.
It doesn’t look like it’s accurate down to the inch, but it’s pretty impressive compared to traditional GPS systems. It’s hard to tell or if the location sensors are placed throughout the building or carried by the individual, but it looks like all he’s carrying is a tablet to control the application, and it’s possible that the sensors are only in the tablet itself. It seems to me that the tablet has an application with a pre-rendered map onboard, and it’s using the tablet’s camera and the lights throughout the space to determine its relative position. Guess it wouldn’t work in the dark then.
It’s not clear if or when this technology will make its way into our lives, but it sure would be cool to be able to find your way around malls, office buildings and indoor stadiums so you can find your way around and your friends can locate you too.