• Google Glasses - Going Underground but "Not Dead Yet"!

    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:

  • One of the Early Killer Use Cases for Project Tango in Healthcare: Guiding the Visually Impaired

    This article focuses on one of the most valuable early use cases in Healthcare - and generally for Tango - being prototyped at Purdue University.

    While the "beeping" UI here has a specific context and use case based on similar tools that the visually impaired already use, it seems ripe for enhancements with voice and other audio prompts

    This use case highlights and draws on some of the things that are truly unique to Tango. With BLE or Cisco-based navigation-quality indoor positioning, for example, our MediNav Navigator could easily help to guide a visually impaired user end-to-end across a large facility, as well as provide location-based information and services that are useful. But it would be only a partial solution at best.

    With Tango, on the other hand, we will be able to not only navigate the user, but literally see the environment for them. Tango can recognize spatial relationships and objects in way far more similar to how our own brains do. This makes it possible to help the visually impaired both avoid obstacles on this journey and also embed information about the environment and objects that are useful.

    One very simple example of this would be recognizing and being able to guide the user precisely to a water fountain. Or point their device towards a wall, perhaps, and scan and read all the signs and options that are on it. The key point is that almost all of the things in terms of navigating an environment that the "sighted" person takes for granted and are so difficult for the visually impaired now becomes possible again.

    There is a good stretch of road ahead to make all this practical as a complete solution and ready in a market sense, but the number of ways that Indoor Navigation + Augmented Reality can be combined for user benefit seem almost endless!


    To learn how Connexient can provide Indoor Maps, Navigation and Location Services improve Patient & Visitor Experience, increase efficiency and capture lost revenue for your organization, please contact us.

  • Project Tango and 3D Indoor Mapping: the Future is Not Quite Now

    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.


    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!


    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:

    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.

    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!

  • Wondering How Project Tango Can Be Used for Indoor Mapping? Watch This Video.

    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 itis 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.

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