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The recent release of the Apple Watch was greeted by a collective sigh by the mHealth community, and for good reason. Here's a good summary from Healthcare Success:
The advance billing for the Apple watch was typically Apple-superlative. Fueled by the enthusiasm of legions of brand evangelists, the initial buzz anticipated something “revolutionary,” “life-changing” and/or “breakthrough” for health and healthcare.
Well… It turns out that the “innovative” health-and-fitness Apple Watch is more “fitness” than “health.” Version 1.0 is an admittedly stylish gadget that has closer ties to the gym than the hospital or doctor’s office. At least in this rollout product line, Apple has not included some of the anticipated bells-and-whistles for health care.
We are happy to say, however, that the Apple Watch and similar wearables hold lots of promise for Digital Wayfinding! While we can't provide a turn-by-turn navigation visualization because of the form factor, we absolutely can and will over time be able to provide location-enabled Digital Wayfinding guidance the users of such devices.
There are a number of steps to get there, some of the most important of which are being taken byCisco with its new HyperLocation Solution, but it's an exciting new delivery vehicle that may well appeal over time to a category of users that would prefer to not use their smartphone - or at least have to hold it up to navigate.
Look for Connexient to work with early adopter clients and partners to develop these uses - and use cases!
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
So, we have been looking for a visionary, early adopter client that would like to take the plunge with us in 3D mapping!
We do think it is important to provide some perspective and a word of caution on the technology, however.
This is essential to understand. We first wrote about this last year:
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.
Aisle411 did a very cool project with Walmart last year, for example.
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.
I would just point to the recent pullback by Google on Google Glasses as Exhibit A.
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.
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:
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!