GPS changed the way we think about moving. Now, with navigation available on our smartphones, we’re able to take maps with us almost everywhere we go. This is a welcome change as modern users are often very busy, constantly running from one place to the other. However, for all the good GPS does in outdoor navigation, it does little for users indoors in a smaller space. That’s why companies are turning to beacons to change indoor navigation.
How beacon wayfinding works in practice
Of course, it’s not just a vague interest in wayfinding that’s driving change–it’s real investments. Solution providers and businesses know that navigation will benefit their users. That’s why we’ll be seeing more investment in the field as well as more results. In fact, analysts expect the global Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation (IPIN) market to grow at a CAGR of 58.90% from 2017 to 2021. Or, as this study from Technavio puts it: the global indoor positioning and indoor navigation market will grow to USD 7.8 billion by 2021.
What verticals need indoor wayfinding?
The benefits of indoor navigation are huge and diverse. First, it enhances customer experience. Never again should a customer be forced to wander around a huge mall looking for a particular store. Users shouldn’t waste time just finding a place. That part should be easy!
Second, better wayfinding increases efficiency for both employees and businesses. With more users able to find the desired location there could be an opportunity for increased sales and more interactions. Of course, by giving employees indoor navigation abilities (especially real-time based indoor navigation), businesses can optimize every step of their employee’s day. Employees can now know the shortest route from their far-off, random location to a specific container in a warehouse. A doctor can find their next patient in a snap without having to think twice. In short, there will be no more guesswork and much more efficiency.
Moreover, every vertical can benefit from indoor navigation with beacons. Retail, healthcare, manufacturing all benefit.–even gyms and zoos, schools and anywhere else you move.
New possibilities powered by beacon navigation:
- real-time navigation
- up-to-date maps
- augmented reality support
- direct shoppers and users
- automated tours
- congested space optimization
What’s the tech? Why is BLE different?
When it comes to indoor navigation, there are multiple ways to find your way around a space. However, what first comes to mind are tools like QR and NFC. With these technologies, it’s easy: you scan the code and then immediately know where you are. But there’s also a problem. This is passive technology. Users have to actively interact with each and every code (not to mention, find the codes in the first place).
So what about active solutions? Active solutions are able to communicate with phones at a greater distance. This means, when you walk into a room, your phone already knows exactly where you are—no scanning required. Sounds useful, doesn’t it? There’s a very good reason, however, that this isn’t yet common practice. In short, the technology wasn’t readily available until recently. WiFi-based indoor navigation systems, or other, more precise systems, come with a large price tag. This high cost has deterred most businesses from ever investing. Beacon navigation, on the other hand, is notably affordable, and, since it’s introduction in 2013, it’s only getting stronger.
Where can you find beacon navigation solutions in the real world?
Indoor navigation is one of the more popular uses of beacon technology available—likely because of how many people and verticals that can benefit from it. That’s why we wrote up a complete report on it. Including dozens of real-world use cases and interviews with top names in the field, this white paper should be a solid introduction for anyone interested in indoor navigation with beacons.
Verticals where you can already find beacons for wayfinding:
Here’s some of our favorite indoor navigation use cases
Ribera del Duero
The entire tourism industry relies on visitors being able to find the right location with ease, yet one key pain points for tourists is simply finding their way on a daily basis. In 2015, a project was implemented at the famous Spanish wine route, Ribera del Duero, to help tourists get around the area. Beacons helped users answer questions like “where am I?” or “what am I looking at?”
This new communication campaign helped grow the number of visitors from 83,000 visitors in 2010 to 269,000 in 2015. Not to mention, this also meant millions of euros in extra annual revenue and the creation of several jobs in Ribera del Duero.
City of Wellington
Sometimes, it’s not enough to have just a few shops here and there beaconized. For the city of Wellington, wayfinding with beacons meant giving new opportunities to vision-impaired residents. In a great case of “go big or go home,” the city decided to set beacons all over town. Backed by the Wellington City Council, the project deployed 200 beacons in the central business district.
The deployment was praised by the city’s mayor as “a first for New Zealand and will build Wellington’s reputation as a smart and accessible destination” and “will welcome people with visual impairments to participate fully in the life of the city.”
University of Lodz
The University of Lodz installed beacons across 38 buildings and dormitories to help 1,200 international students find their way around. the spring semester of 2015. When a student passes a beacon, they trigger information about where they are, what they can do there, and how to get to common destinations. Though international students were the initial driver of this campaign, wayfinding around university areas, libraries, and facilities benefits parents and ordinary students as well.
Article written by Hannah Augur