Follow Along: Navigation App Shows You the Way Indoors

Getting lost in a large, unfamiliar building is a harrowing experience that can’t always be helped. Maps only help those of us who can read maps, GPS doesn’t work indoors and compasses are thrown off by buildings’ steel skeletons. MIT Media Lab Research Assistant Jaewoo Chung created Guiding Light to overcome all of these problems and help the hopelessly lost find their way around. The system projects an arrow on the ground to lead the way using a smartphone, a mini-projector and a magnetic map of the building.

The system is programmed when someone wearing a special circuit board walks all throughout the building. The system reads the magnetic fluctuations at every step, creating a comprehensive map that can then be used by anyone else using Guiding Light. Users also wear a small circuit board while finding their way around, then just follow the arrows to their destination. The system detects which way the user is facing and even displays augmented information when the projector is turned toward a door. With some refinement, the system could be used to help us get around almost anywhere – from finding a certain room in a museum to finding the nearest bathroom in the mall.

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See more in Digital Design or under Technology. March, 2012.