US: Microsoft Research is working to develop a new app called Path Guide, which is expected to solve the problem of indoor navigation. To understand this, indoor navigation is needed when you get inside a building for example a shopping mall or a train station, and you’re often left scrambled in the sense of where you’re supposed to be heading.
To solve this problem, Microsoft has developed a system that works by getting users to guide each other. In the app, you have the option to create a ‘Trace’; you walk the path that you want others to follow, annotating your route with text, images and voice.
The app tracks the distance walked and directions turned using on-board sensors, then creates a route for others to follow. It also allows one to search the information publicly and can send the route to friends.
If you’re meeting up with friends and one of you is running late, this could prove to be an invaluable service that will allow you to share your route information with them to show them where exactly they’re supposed to be going.
As with any crowdsourcing platform, it does mean the onus is on the user to create the content, but as with Wikipedia, we have seen that crowdsourced projects can work.
One of the cool features Microsoft highlights on the app is the ability to create a ‘trace’ that allows you to retrace your steps in the opposite direction, meaning that once you’ve parked your car you can create a trace to the lift, and on returning to the lift you just start up the trace and it leads you straight to your car.
The app is currently in the development stage so it’s only available on Android, and still has a few niggly issues like not being able to run in the background, so you can’t close the app to text someone to let them know you’re on your way and still get notifications, as you can with Google Maps.