Nowadays, when almost everyone has a smartphone, it has become much easier to navigate in any location. Modern technologies allow not only to find the right building or street, but also to build routes inside large buildings. For these purposes, we now have mobile software and apps for indoor navigation, which have a wide range of features. With those, you can quickly find the right objects inside large buildings and build short routes to points of interest. In this article, we will cover the main benefits of using an indoor navigation app, as well as give you a brief indoor navigation app tutorial.
What is indoor navigation and positioning?
Indoor navigation and positioning is used to determine the location of points of interest indoors. Its implementation can be carried out using many different technologies, but Bluetooth® LE, Wi-Fi, and UWB are considered the most effective ones. Using these technologies opens up wide opportunities for business development and allows you to calculate locations inside buildings with an accuracy of 3-10 ft.
When implemented in the infrastructure of companies, the system not only shows the current position of a person or asset, but also directs them to the right point via the shortest routes. It’s also important to note that the navigation and positioning system collects detailed analytics, thanks to which you can launch effective marketing campaigns for interested users.
In recent years, the volume of the indoor navigation market has been constantly growing, and this trend is only set to continue. According to Market Research Future reports, its average annual growth rate in the next decade is projected to be 32.56%, and by 2030, it should be estimated at $92.36 billion.
How an indoor navigation application works
To figure out how to make an indoor navigation app, it's important to understand how it works. The system is based on special beacons (also known as tags) that interact with the internal sensors of the smartphone. The beacons are installed in different places in the room, where they send out signals at a specific frequency. As soon as a user with a mobile phone enters the beacon coverage area, the equipment picks up signals from the smartphone and directs them to the reader. Finally, the system calculates the exact location of a person using mathematical algorithms.
An indoor navigation application has a wide range of tasks it can perform, but its main features include:
- Location determination: the system performs positioning of a point of interest and determines its location with high accuracy in real time.
- Building a route on the map: a digital map of buildings is displayed on the user's smartphone, according to which a person can build the shortest paths to places of his interest.
- Real-time turn-by-turn navigation: the platform guides the visitor along the route, provides hints and helps get to the final destination in the most convenient way possible.
- Push notifications: users can receive messages that direct them to the necessary objects or provide useful information, such as store schedules, bonus offers, discounts, etc.
Benefits of developing an application with indoor navigation
A modern indoor navigation app provides many benefits for both the visitors/customers and the business owners. The main advantage of the system for visitors is the ability to quickly find certain objects and points of interest. The application with indoor navigation reduces search time, saves energy, and provides improved user experience. For example, in a shopping mall, a person simply needs to set the name of the product or store, so that the platform immediately develops a short route directly to it.
Business owners who implement a system like that get the opportunity to provide customers with better services. This is especially true for large facilities (such as airports, medical facilities, college campuses), where visitors often lose their way and have to wander for a long time in search of the right buildings or rooms. Using a mobile application with indoor navigation allows them to build short routes, and this not only saves people's time, but also makes them more loyal to a particular company.
Another important advantage for enterprises is the detailed analytics. The platform carefully collects all data on movements and provides business owners with the following information:
- number of visits;
- frequency of visits;
- wait time;
- traffic sources;
- "narrow" places on the territory, etc.
Pre-made analytics reports can be used to organize advertising campaigns, improve the level of security for visitors and staff, and optimize business processes, all of which invariably leads to higher profits.
Navigine's Open Source Initiative
Navigine offers part of its navigation library publicly available, namely a number of its own navigation algorithms that developers can leverage to enhance their mobile applications. By utilizing Open Source, developers can integrate Navigine's cutting-edge algorithms into their applications, providing users with precise and efficient indoor navigation experiences. This Open Source offering not only promotes collaboration and innovation in the development community but also enables businesses to deliver tailored indoor navigation solutions that meet their specific requirements.
How to create an indoor navigation app: the main steps
There are only 4 simple STEPS for a successful navigation setup.
- Setting up iBeacon infrastructure.
- Deployment of beacons
- Creating maps.
- Developing application with SDK.
Let’s examined more closely every step.
Setting Up iBeacon Infrastructure
Prior to installing beacons in the target locations, you need to configure them. Use the Navigine Setting or beacon supplier application for beacon configuration.
One way to configure the beacons is via the Navigine Setting application at mobile devices.
- UUID: name of the group of beacons (for example “Airport JFK”, “White House”)
- Major: name of the sub-group of beacons (for example “Floor 1”, “Floor 2”)
- Minor: name of each beacon (for example “Beacon 1”, “Beacon 2”)
- TX Power: signal strength (RSSI - received signal strength indication) which is measured at one-meter distance from the beacon. (for example -60 dBm, -70 dBm)
- Advertising (Transmission) interval: an indicator of the periodicity of sending signals from beacons. (for example 1000 ms, 500 ms)
Deployment Of Beacons
After you have configured beacons, start to deploy them. Take into account golden rules: install above the head level at the height from 2 and 4 meters. The best is to place them on the ceiling. If it’s not possible, install them to the walls.
We advise using a long pole for the installation or a ladder for high-ceilinged premises. Set a beacon to the end of the pole, using a double-sided tape for better placement.
Place the beacons evenly across the location. The more beacons you use, the higher the accuracy level is. We recommend to use 1 beacon per 1000 sqm. ft. of space. Place the beacon where it will have good visibility to the end user’s phone. A clear signal without interference is the best way to achieve consistent app behavior.
After the deployment, you need to create the maps of locations. You need to interconnect them - set a location of each beacon directly on a map. Sync your updated map with the server in Navigine Demo app.
- Open application with your credentials. Download location that you need in Location Management tab.
- To add iBeacons on your map via Navigine application, run Measuring mode.
- Tap the Beacon button. Keep your device as close as possible to the beacon that you want to set.
- After that tap Start and wait about 5 seconds while the application detects the closest iBeacon and reads its parameters. All beacon settings will be automatically read and saved inside the navigation system.
- If the timer does not stop after 5 seconds, there might be conflicting beacons nearby. To avoid potential conflicts, make sure there are no other beacons in 5-7 meters.
The next important step is to upload the map to the cloud via location manager. To do that, tap the cloud button and wait while the information about your locations is uploading to the cloud.
After that, check the accuracy and proper work in the Navigine Demo App.
Developing Application With SDK
As a final step you need an app that detects beacons in proximity and easily interact with them. It can also measure approximate distance and collect data that can be useful for a variety of applications: from push notifications to indoor positioning.
In order to make your app detect beacons, you may install Navigine SDK.
Using our software tools, documentation and source code you will upgrade your mobile and deliver new functionality to your clients. As a result, you will get indoor navigation working in Navigine mobile application.
Technology options for implementing indoor navigation
As mentioned above, there is a wide range of technologies you can choose from when figuring out how to create an indoor navigation app. The most common ones are Bluetooth® Low Energy, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi RTT and UWB.
Bluetooth® Low Energy
Bluetooth® LE is one of the most popular options when developing an indoor navigation app. The platform works via beacons, which are defined by low power consumption and high accuracy in determining the location of objects (up to 16 ft on average). The technology does not require high implementation costs. The batteries inside the beacons last for about 5 years, which makes them really sustainable. It’s also important to note that all calculations when using the platform are carried out on servers, and this eliminates the burden on users' smartphones.
Wi-Fi technology uses pre-existing infrastructure, making it one of the most affordable options. The system is based on using Wi-Fi points, which become signal transmitters. They pick up pulses from tags and provide a fairly high accuracy of about 15-30 meters. However, the disadvantage of this technology is the inability to determine the location of a person. This is done by the smartphone itself, which quickly exhausts its battery.
Wi-Fi RTT is a new technology that provides a much higher accuracy than conventional Wi-Fi (3-5 ft). The system works by measuring the distance from the smartphone to the nearest router, which greatly speeds up the location calculation process. With this one, you can count on easy integration into a mobile application and trouble-free infrastructure maintenance without the involvement of specialists.
UWB is the most accurate navigation and positioning technology to date. The platform functions by transmitting high-frequency signals over short distances and helps determine the location with an accuracy of up to 12 inches. The system has several advantages, such as interference immunity, simultaneous support for hundreds of channels, and spectral flexibility. The main downside is the expensive implementation, which is why it’s mostly used for tracking valuable assets only.
Where can indoor navigation applications be used?
An indoor navigation application can be a great solution for many areas. Location-based software products are often used in retail, the transportation industry, business centers, educational and medical facilities.
Indoor navigation apps in retail make shopping easier and more comfortable. It’s enough for a person to use their smartphone to navigate in a large store and easily find the products they need. With the software, it’s much easier to plan routes based on your shopping list. The system provides a digital store map, as well as a search feature and convenient turn-by-turn navigation. After implementing the platform, you can get many benefits, such as:
- increasing customer loyalty;
- increasing the average spend in the store;
- improving the user experience;
- optimizing retail space;
- growing store revenue.
Navigation in shopping centers guarantees their successful work process. A huge number of boutiques and shops, wandering for hours in search of products, large crowds - all of this negatively affects the shoppers and stops them from visiting again. Mobile applications with indoor navigation features can change the situation dramatically. With them, the shoppers can easily build routes and quickly reach the desired store, which makes the shopping more enjoyable. Instead of spending hours walking around, users get an exciting shopping experience and are motivated to return to the same mall again.
Train stations and airports
While traveling, people often have a hard time finding terminals, ticket offices and other spots at airports and railway stations. Sometimes this leads to delays, which doesn’t create the best impression of the trip. Thanks to indoor navigation applications, passengers can plan their journey more efficiently. Now they can:
- quickly find ticket offices, check-in counters, cafeterias, etc.;
- receive detailed maps;
- build routes to any point at the transport hub;
- receive notifications about transport schedules, flight delays, etc.
Indoor navigation and positioning allows patients to quickly find doctor's offices, build routes to wards or treatment rooms. The mobile app creates the shortest paths and selects the most suitable route, taking into account elevators, stairs, and other possibly challenging places. Not only does it save the visitor's time, but it also helps get to the right office faster, which is especially important when a patient is feeling unwell.
Introducing indoor navigation provides visitors and new students with easy wayfinding in educational facilities with a large number of buildings. With it, you can easily find any room, campus, cafeteria, or a professor’s office. The system helps create a "smart" university that contributes to the sustainable development idea.
Business centers and offices
Using navigation apps in business centers is an opportunity to increase the productivity of employees and the efficiency of working hours by 10-20%. Thanks to these applications, visitors no longer have to spend time looking for the right room. This eliminates the delay of meetings and increases the overall productivity of the company.
If you’re curious about implementing an indoor navigation system at your company, please contact us at Navigine. We are ready to help with picking the suitable equipment and providing effective software tools for integrating the SDK into a mobile app. Our staff is always available for technical support. We offer a detailed tutorial on how to create an indoor navigation app and help with software settings according to the specific needs of your business.