Indoor navigation is nothing new, but it usually relies on presenting users with indoor maps and very little guidance to help them find their way. When it is more helpful this often means having to carry a really advanced device with environment-sensing sensors like Google’s Tango devices.
Now Microsoft Research Asia has released a new app on the Google Play store designed to make it easy to record and follow a specific route using a standard mid-range smartphone without needing advanced sensors or even indoor maps.
Path Guide is a completely map-free, infrastructure-free, plug-and-play indoor navigation service. It exploits the ubiquitous geomagnetism and natural walking patterns to guide users to destinations along a path collected by an earlier traveller.
To use the app users simply need to:
- User records sensory data with his/her device during a given indoor walk. The location-specific geomagnetic features extracted from the sensory data are combined with the user’s walking patterns (e.g., steps, turns, going upstairs/downstairs) to build a reference trace.
- Reference trace is pushed to the cloud and can be searched by others for navigation.
- Once downloaded a reference trace, Path Guide compares and synchronises current sensor readings with the reference trace, and guides the user, in real time, from the same starting location to the final destination.
Microsoft notes the app may be useful for finding your car, for directing visitors in a building to your office or showing shoppers how to find your store.