Existing Wayfinding Systems

Electronic or Digital Wayfinding Systems generate directions upon request (interactive) through a Kiosk, LCD Touchscreen, an Internet Webpage or Mobile Device.

To get a good idea of where we are heading with indoor interactive wayfinding, it is a good to look at where we are now with the existing trendsetters, the outdoor wayfinding systems. Lead the way…..

Familiar wayfinding systems are Google Maps (Bing/Yahoo) on the internet and the Wayfinder in your car.

The car wayfinder is often referred to as a GPS. This is only partly true. It contains an important component of the GPS and that is the receiver. The rest of the GPS is up in the air (literally). GPS on Wiki.

GPS is a positioning system, satellite based, maintained by the US and free for use. What does it do? It continuously keeps track of the position of the receiver, and passes that information on to the receiver. As a result, the car wayfinder always knows where it is and together with the stored map information, it can direct you turn-by-turn, to your destination.

It is important to understand that there are different ways of displaying directions, based on whether the wayfinding system works with a GPS connection or not.

Display all directions at once in a BATCH: The wayfinding system doesn’t know where you are (no GPS). You have to enter your starting point and destination. Online Wayfinding Systems like Yahoo Maps, MapQuest and Google Maps work like this. Further more, without GPS connection they can’t track, so they will provide all the directions upfront, in a batch.

TURN-BY-TURN display of directions: The electronic wayfinder in your car (TomTom/Garmin) is connected to the GPS, and as such knows your position and tracks in the process. Displaying the position on maps allows for turn-by-turn based information, one direction at a time, until the destination is reached. Smart Phones with a GPS receiver are capable of providing the same information in combination with Google Maps.

The technology of outdoor wayfinding systems is of great influence on all the indoor wayfinding systems. After all, how outdoor wayfinding systems compute directions and deliver (display) them is a winning concept all together.

You will find the display of directions by batch in Indoor Wayfinding Systems but also the more complicated turn-by-turn concept. As you know, in order to deliver turn-by-turn directions indoor, there needs to be some kind of positioning system and since GPS doesn’t work indoors, this is a challenge. But there are solutions, as you will read in the next chapters.

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