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  • Connexient, SNCF, Unibail Rodemco and Schneider Electric Discuss Indoor Navigation and Location Service at Pole Star Connect

    PoleStar Connect Day SNCF, Unibail Rodemco, Schneider Electric and Connexient discuss use cases and strategic value of indoor positioning and navigation Last week I had the opportunity to participate in

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  • Wayfinding Design for Understanding:  A Classic Position Paper

    I recently came across this position paper called: Wayfinding Design for Understanding published by the outstanding Center for Health Design. https://www.healthdesign.org/knowledge-repository/wayfinding-design-understanding https://www.healthdesign.org/sites/default/files/WayfindingPositionPaper.pdf While it was published in 1992 - and thus

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  • What Exactly is Indoor Navigation Anyways - and Why Does It Matter?

    Connexient was founded with a singular, driving vision:  to develop and deliver a true turn-by-turn indoor navigation experience that would be as intuitive and useful as that which billions of

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  • Accenture Study: Superior Patient Experience Can Yield Up to 50% Higher Margins

    Any one that has ever been to a large hospital medical center - or worked at one - understands intuitively the very real and negative impact of poor wayfinding on Patient Experience.

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  • Connexient + Google Maps for Work Part 2: Closing the Gaps With Campus and Network-Wide Wayfinding

    Last week, we zeroed in on how we work with Google Maps to deliver true end-to-end, outdoor + indoor maps, directions and navigation. This partnership allows us to make - for example

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Google Shows off Augmented Reality Applications of Project Tango at GTC

For most geeks, "Augmented Reality" seems mostly to pertain to gaming.  OK I get that!

But for us Indoor Mapping & LBS geeks, Project Tango's unique ability to both capture reality and then augment it is what is truly breathtaking.   To get a sense of exactly that that means and how it will be applied to indoor mapping and navigation, just take a look at the first two minutes of this video, and then 4:50 to 5:45. 

[embed=videolink]{"video":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H07VrVozNZQ","width":"620","height":"380"}[/embed]

So - if you accept the idea that somebody is willing to hold their phone up to say waist level while navigating a very large building - and that's a big if - then Project Tango is the mapping system, mapping platform, indoor positioning and indoor navigation all in one.

I stand my ground that this is much more suitable short term to professional users and use cases of various sorts (e.g. a Facilities staff or security maybe?) then patient/visitor wayfinding.   Sure, there will be some early adopters that will love it.  But your typical 55+ year old patient is not going to hold up their phone - much less a mini-tablet - for 20 or 25 minutes. 

And they definitely are not going to pay the price differential for a Tango-capable tablet until it is only marginally higher than a typical cell phone.

But there is absolutely no doubt that this a technology revolution, and one that will be embraced and applied in all kinds of compelling ways.  Indoor Mapping & Navigation is just one more of those.
 

Project Tango is Getting Mindshare

We get excited inquiries quite frequently these days from clients and prospects about "3D Mapping." After some back and forth, we can usually trace it back to someone having seen a video or demo of Project Tango - Google's amazing ATAP project.
[embed=videolink]{"video":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe10ExwzCqk","width":"620","height":"380"}[/embed]

Project TangoWe think that is great! As technology and Indoor Mapping geeks, we get pretty excited any time people want to talk about it. This is absolutely a time of revolutionary technologydriven change in mapping generally and indoor mapping in particular. Project Tango is driving a cost vs. capability curve for Indoor Mapping that is truly a game changer. We first started blogging about this last year and will continue to track it for our clients.

So, we are following all the developments intently, are a registered Project Tango developer and have our own R & D project starting shortly on how we can apply this technology to deliver value to our clients and end users.

But It Is Just Part of a Wave of 3D Modeling and Mapping

Google did not invent Project Tango out of a vacuum. Rather, it provided the leadership, resources and impetus to bring together advances of the last several decades across different areas with a clear goal to revolutionize indoor modeling and mapping. Google deserves full credit and kudos for this.

But it is worth noting that there are even more advanced and much more stable and productized solutions out there.
Matterport is one example of these.

MatterportWhat they have achieved to make photo resolution 3D modeling accessible is absolutely astonishing.

Try Matterport

Combine Matterport with Occulus Rift and you've got the Star Trek Holodeck 300 years ahead of schedule!

Holodeck

So, we have been looking for a visionary, early adopter client that would like to take the plunge with us in 3D mapping!

But the Future Is Not Quite Here Yet

We do think it is important to provide some perspective and a word of caution on the technology, however.

1. A 3D Model is Not the Same Thing as an Indoor Map

This is essential to understand. We first wrote about this last year:

http://connexient.com/blog/entry/google-s-project-tango-and-why-a-3d-model-is-not-an-indoor-map

As fantastic and dazzling as Project Tango promised to be, it will not replace the actual work of mapping. Without the human intellectual process of making sense of the data that Project Tango captures, the user will be just as lost inside the 3D Model as they are in the real building!

Project Tango will make Indoor Mapping faster and easier to be sure. But a 3D model is not a map.

2. This is very bleeding edge technology. i.e. Immature

Aisle411 did a very cool project with Walmart last year, for example.
[embed=videolink]{"video":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN46r-IZk8o","width":"620","height":"380"}[/embed]

Really fun, fantastic, visionary - and very successful proof-of-concept. But it did not go into every Walmart store or even stay in the one where it was piloted.

That's not because the technology was not great. Simply that it is not mature, and more importantly still searching for the right ways to apply it that consumers actually want to use. Pioneers like Aisle411 and Walmart will find that formula and the technology will become more stable. But not without a lot of trial and error along the way.

3. There are almost certain to be some setbacks

I would just point to the recent pullback by Google on Google Glasses as Exhibit A.

4. The devices that can take advantage of Tango are not even on the market yet, and will be very high end and oriented towards gaming and professional applications for at least the next several years.

LG is the only OEM that has signed up so far, and after a lot of announcements at last year's Google I/O there have been no further details.

5. There are some fundamental UX challenges in using this for Wayfinding

When we arrive at the day the user will still always need to hold the phone up so that it can "see" the building. While that will be find for some types of users, it will be a real problem for others especially as a solution for the range of demographics at a hospital. Or even for a superhip conventiongoer walking through miles long exhibits!

A much easier and better user experience and for a variety of reasons technically superior will be to either:

  1. rely primarily on an audio UX with the map on your smartphone for occasional reference what we do now and the universal UX for incar navigation; or

  2. put on a Google Glasses device where the “invisible map” can be superimposed on the real world a user is actually seeing.

Want to Do Some 3D Modeling or Mapping? Let Us Know!

We absolutely know this technology will revolutionize our business and have huge positive benefits to clients and end users. We just cannot in good conscience recommend it as ready for mass deployment and broad consumer uses.

But you can rest assured that we are excited and eager to cut the path with early adopters and visionaries that can and are willing to take the bumps and bruises along with us. If you are one of them, please contact us!

It just so happens that this weekend I watched "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" - which is chock full of memorable skits and what these days might be called "memes".  One of those is the recurring theme of one character or another who receives a horrible mortal wound, only to pronounce "I'm not dead yet!" followed by "I think I'm getting better!"

Google Glasses for the masses

Look for Google Glasses to follow that same trajectory.   A technology that was half-baked and premature for the market?  Absolutely.  But definitely a technology that is not more than a few years away from the magic combination of technical capability and price point to support mass adoption.  

The last key piece to that ramp, of course, is the support of a credible software platform.   Google knows that if they don't do it, Apple certainly will.  So, however, frustrating this setback, it is just a checkpoint along the way.  Wearable computers are most definitely part of the near future!

For more reading:

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2015/01/the-google-glass-project-goes-underground-until-further-notice.html

http://www.wsj.com/articles/google-makes-changes-to-its-glass-project-1421343901

http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/16/google-glass-is-not-dead/

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