November 3, 2015

The navigation app for buildings

Find your way around more easily with a navigation app, even inside buildings:
For this, Fraunhofer researchers use the WLAN signals indoors. © Fraunhofer IPMS

(November 3, 2015)  In large buildings, you can lose your orientation. Fraunhofer researchers have developed an Android app that navigates through passages, corridors, rooms and floors to the desired destination. They use WLAN to help with location. The technology can be customized and integrated into other applications.

Large public building complexes, such as exhibition halls, airports, shopping centers or museums, as well as hospitals and public authority buildings are sometimes like a maze. Arrows, maps and signs are supposed to make it clearer. But right when you enter the building for the first time, it is often very laborious and complicated to follow them through the maze of corridors, hallways, rooms and floors. Classic GPS-based navigation apps do not work in enclosed spaces, because the satellite signals are sometimes significantly disrupted by walls and ceilings.

Software evaluates WLAN signals

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden, Germany have found a way to use smartphones for navigation inside buildings too. For this they rely on WLAN: With local radio networks, the researchers locate smartphones indoor to within about two meters. To determine the position, the software evaluates the signal strength of the WLAN spots. The app, which was originally developed for use in hospitals, is based on the Android mobile phone operating system.

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