A French company is making it easier for you to find the nearest Cinnabon stand at your local mall.
Movea said today it has successfully demonstrated an accurate pedestrian navigation solution for finding your way around inside buildings.
Indoor navigation is a big frontier for mobile technology because global positioning system (GPS) satellite signals don’t reach inside buildings. It is particularly useful for travelers navigating airports and subways as they try to catch a flight or train ride.
Movea has more than 500 patents in its portfolio and it says it has overcome a key problem in indoor navigation. The company has developed offline but accurate dead-reckoning techniques that compensate for magnetic perturbations and gyroscopic drift regardless of location or the position of the device. That enabled it to create a comprehensive data fusion framework and a robust indoor navigation package. And cellphone makers or semiconductor firms can adopt it and use it in a mobile device.
Movea’s indoor navigation systems uses signals from an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, pressure sensor, Wi-Fi, GPS, and matching against known maps. The first thing Movea’s mobile app does is ask you for your height. From that, it can estimate your step length. When you move, the accelerometer in your phone registers the step, and the app then figures out that you’ve moved. The magnetometer, used for a compass, determines which way you are facing.
“Without the help of global positioning systems (GPS) and reliable Wi-Fi signals, providing consumers with an effective way to navigate inside of buildings, underground transportation systems and other indoor locations has proved insurmountable to technology companies,” said Movea CEO Sam Guilaumé. “Many of today’s location-based service offerings do not meet the requirements for delivering a reliable and compelling user experience. Accurate dead reckoning and data fusion techniques have been missing key ingredients to the success of location-based services, and Movea is the first to harness their full potential to bring a complete indoor navigation solution to the market.”
Movea has worked with France’s national railway company, SNCF, and the South Korean mobile network operator SK Telecom to test its indoor navigation in the real world.
In two separate demos, one held at the Paris-Gâre de Lyon in France with SCNF and the other at the University Station in Seoul, South Korea, the company says that people using its tech successfully navigated through two busy train stations that serve thousands of commuters on a daily basis.
Movea relied solely on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone’s built-in sensors to guide people from one location to another through a labyrinth of passages, corridors, and elevators.
“There is an immense opportunity for location-based services to improve the user experience in transportation hubs, malls, and other cavernous buildings,” said Philippe David, the project manager for SNCF Research and Innovation. “Movea’s technology is a key element to making this dream a reality for our customers.”
Movea also demonstrated accurate indoor navigation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Movea takes into account the difference in step length when you are moving faster or slower. Over time, it figures out your trajectory and then uses it for your location.
One thing that improves accuracy is “map matching,” or using blueprints for buildings. It uses those to match your location. If you’re walking down a hallway, it will correct the location if you suddenly seem to be walking through room walls, based on faulty step calculations or faulty sensor signals. The system is context-aware. If you are in an elevator, it knows that. If it senses a change in the pressure, it will figure out that you are going up the elevator. The pressure change was measured by a pressure sensor, which is present in some Samsung devices.
One of the challenges is getting blueprints for the indoor landmarks within every building on the planet. That’s going to take some time to do. Mapping companies such as Google have embarked on that task, and Movea will be happy to help them calculate location accurately once they did out that data.
Movea is based in Grenoble, France.