October 30, 2014 3:41 PM by Julia Rupprecht
Having just arrived by plane in an unfamiliar city, I now need to find the right subway line, and fast. This is easier said than done – the signage is more confusing than helpful. But no matter: I take my smartphone out of my pocket and open a navigation app with added awiloc functionality, which instantly tells me where I am and where I should be heading: I turn to my left, go down the escalator and walk straight ahead for 100 meters. Then I take another escalator down and arrive at the right platform. I get off the subway at the fourth stop. Thanks to my smartphone, I also find the right bus stop without having to search around. I get on the first bus that comes; the ride takes another good ten minutes. I step off and find myself in front of a huge office block. Thankfully, there is no need to scan lots of direction signs for the floor and room number I want. I simply take a glance at my smartphone’s display, which tells me I need to ride up to the 8th floor. On leaving the elevator, I bear left and head towards the meeting room, which is the third door on the right, as my smartphone indicates. I reach my destination with five minutes to spare, so there is still time for a little chat with some of the other participants before the meeting begins.
Seamless wayfinding in urban environments, both outdoors and indoors, from spaces such as airports, railroad, subway or bus stations to office buildings, including the ability to easily locate a specific floor and room – just a pipe dream? Not any more, because Fraunhofer IIS has developed awiloc, a positioning solution which achieves precisely that without compromising your data privacy. This is possible because awiloc determines your position based only on your mobile phone, tablet computer or – and this is new – smartwatch. It makes no difference whether the device runs on Android, Windows or the Apple operating system. All data will remain exclusively on your handheld device, since awiloc uses no central server and transmits no data. Instead, the awiloc software measures the strength of signals the device receives from nearby Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other transmitters. By matching the results with values known to correspond to specific locations, your current position is then calculated to an accuracy of a few meters. There is no data transmission involved.
However, that is not all: A number of museums use awiloc to offer visitors a multimedia guide that includes positioning functionality. The guide will not only show visitors around, but also provide photos and video or audio clips relevant to the nearest exhibit. Below is a selection of ongoing museum projects involving awiloc:
- Dinotopia – Perot Museum Dallas
- Museum of History Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart
- Heinz Nixdorf Museums Forum in Paderborn
- Museum of Industrial Culture in Nuremberg
- Sonnenwelt – Interactive experience-exhibition in Großschönau
- State Museum of Egyptian arts in Munich
awiloc is also used for games such as treasure hunting or its modern counterpart, geocaching. And if you need to collect a car from a rental or car sharing service, awiloc will help you locate the car in the parking garage.