Indoor Navigation Goes Hybrid by George Hsu

Chicago O’Hare Airport has 17 different Starbucks. The line at the Starbucks nearest your departure gate is startlingly long – so what’s the quickest way to find another Starbucks? There’s an interactive map of O’Hare Airport, complete with all the Starbucks, but since you’re so caffeine-deprived, you’re having a difficult time reading it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have step-by-step directions to the two closest Starbucks?

Or what if you’re walking around a massive shopping mall and are looking for a particular store that you know is having a sale? Indoor navigation on your smartphone or your smartwatch would allow you to find a particular restaurant or store in real-time, relative to your current location.

Smartphone and wearable designers want to deliver more accurate indoor navigation to consumers, in large part because of demand from carriers and data aggregators (like Google) who will work to develop new revenue streams enabled by indoor navigation.

While some level of indoor navigation exists, at least in some places, current solutions leave much to be desired. Google Maps and GPS-enabled devices and smartphones have enjoyed tremendous adoption and are considered indispensable tools by consumers.