Innovation

In 2017 your sat nav is boldly going… indoors

By Oliver Smith 11 January 2017
Pointr launched indoor navigation at King's Cross station last year.
Summary

You'll never lose your car in a car park ever again.

GPS is one of the most incredible inventions in human history, 32 satellites that let you locate yourself anywhere on earth with a tap on your smartphone – unless you’re under a roof.

Unfortunately, we spend 90% of our lives indoors in houses, offices and shopping malls.

All places where sat nav is flakey at best.

In 2017 that’s poised to change, Deloitte thinks indoor navigation will start to grow in popularity this year and be one of the biggest tech trends of the year, and we’ve already seen an example of it used at King’s Cross station.

Indoor navigation

“With indoor navigation you won’t need people to tell you where to go anymore,” Paul Lee, Deloitte’s Head of Research for technology, media, and telecommunications, told The Memo.

“Or if you go to a shopping mall, you’ll never forget where your car is parked, and you’ll spend less time looking for the shops or things you want.”

But how will indoor navigation work, without the use of GPS satellites?

“There are three main sources of indoor location information, wifi networks, mobile networks and beacons,” says Lee.

Mobile and wifi networks have been around for decades, but they’ve gotten more dense over time making them more useful at locating where a smartphone is.

But cheap bluetooth beacons are the technology that will really drive indoor navigation forward in 2017, working like tiny satellites that our phones can use to pinpoint where they are in a building.

This might all sound fantastically futuristic, but you can try indoor navigation already in London.

King's Cross station in London is daunting to navigate.

King’s Cross Chaos

Virgin Trains launched a new Explorer app in November last year, built by Pointr, that lets you find shops, restaurants or even your train’s platform at King’s Cross, one of the UK’s biggest and busiest train stations.

Read more: Pointr is taking the chaos out of King’s Cross

At the time Pointr co-founder Axel Katalan told The Memo: “In five years time, indoor navigation will be a common expectation.”

Pointr has since launched indoor navigation at Harrod’s in London.

Today Deloitte say 5% of all digital navigation by the end of 2017 will be indoors, relying on these new technologies.

Just like how GPS unlocked the great outdoors for millions, we’re about to see a similar revolution indoors.