With Google and Apple two big players of the internet industry have entered the indoor navigation market. Are their applications already market-ready? What are the pros and cons?
Indoor navigation by Google: Indoor Maps, Eddystone and Project Tango
Google itself writes about Indoor Maps: “View floor plans of commercial locations such as airports, department stores, shopping centres or railway stations in Google Maps.” Google’s system locates the user inside the building via Wi-Fi trilateration. The accuracy is between 5-15 meters. Indoor Maps shows POIs which users have entered before. It can distinguish between floor levels and is free. In 2015, Google has released its own Beacon standard. “Eddystone” beacons allow more precise localization and will probably improve the accuracy of Indoor Maps in the future. Furthermore, Google works on “Project Tango”. The software should be able to measure spaces with the help of 3D sensors and enable indoor navigation without GPS and augmented reality.
Opportunities and risks of indoor navigation by Google’s Indoor Maps
Google’s Indoor Maps can be summarized like this: For the user, the service is a valuable free service of an app he uses anyway. However, it should be critically examined how Google deals with user data. Location owners make themselves dependent of an international large corporation and relinquish control of their location, visitor profiles, application setting and the communication with the users.
- the service is available free of charge
- the maps are integrated into an already widespread app
- good usability
- only public buildings (“commercial locations”) can participate. In Germany, there are only 20 available locations in November 2015
- movement profiles are sent to the USA, server-based positioning is critical concerning data protection
- location owners don’t have full control about how their place is displayed
- relatively inaccurate (5-15m)
- location owners can’t access analytics and are not free to create their own location based services
- location owners are dependent of an external company