Turkey: Scientists at Isik University in Istanbul, Turkey, are developing a low-cost, user-friendly indoor navigation system based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The team at the NFC Lab in the university has produced a paper outlining how ‘NFC Internal’ can overcome the limitations of GPS navigation systems, which work poorly inside buildings because they need a ‘line of sight’ to the satellites which drive the system.
Through a series of NFC tags placed at strategic points around a building or complex, visitors using their NFC-enabled phone with an embedded indoor navigation application can easily find their way around an unfamiliar indoor environment.
On entering a building, the visitor checks in by tapping their phone to an entry tag and inputs details of the location within the building they want to get to, for example a room number. A layout of the building is then downloaded to the NFC Internal app on the visitor’s phone and this then also calculates the best way to get to their destination — in much the same way as an outdoor satellite navigation system would.
Tags placed around the building can then be used by the visitor to monitor their progress and re-orientate themselves if they get lost. A touch of a tag provides the app with the user’s current location, and new directions can be calculated if necessary. The system could also be integrated with a phone’s internal GPS facility, allowing users to plot their route to a specific point in a building from any location.
Key advantages of NFC Internal, the researchers say, include:
– Reducing the cost of indoor navigation systems by using cheap passive tags.
– Minimising response times, because the time required to transfer data from an NFC tag to a mobile device and the time required to generate an application’s new path is small.
– Providing accurate position and orientation information.
– Maintaining user privacy. NFC Internal does not need a server or a terminal to orient position, so the location of the user is not tracked.
– Providing exclusive control over location data for the user.
The full research paper, by Busra Ozdenizci, Kerem Ok, Vedat Coskun and Mehmet N Aydin, can be downloaded in PDF format from the NFC Lab’s website.