Navigation Innovation

We're pleased to announce that we've secured funding from Interface's Innovation Voucher scheme to work with the School of Computing Science in The University of Glasgow on a beacon project.

Background

We approached the School with the idea of working on a project with Bluetooth beacons. They had previously obtained some from Kontakt.io but hadn't done much with them at that point.

The Innovation Voucher scheme lets businesses tap into the research expertise of higher education establishments by funding innovative projects that might not otherwise be possible commercially.

The Department

My Computing Science degree and PhD are from the department, so I knew from experience that the old buildings could be difficult to find your way around. They consist of a row of terraced houses joined together to create a warren-like structure where academics hide! Undergraduates don't have classes there, so can find it difficult to track down their tutors' offices.

More recently, a large new building has been joined onto the side, making things even more complicated.

The Project

This inspired the idea to implement a mobile app for indoor navigation. Students would be able to search for members of staff, or particular rooms, and be guided to them - with their position and directions shown on a map.

We'll be recruiting student volunteers who'll be notified about tasks to complete by finding staff members or rooms. Their use of the app will generate data about their physical location and actions taken within the app.

That's where the School's expertise comes in - analysing the resulting data to see what insights can be gained about both the usage of the app and the physical layout of the department. We also hope to demonstrate that guided navigation helps people get to where they want to be faster - a result with applications in many different contexts, from hospitals to shopping malls and cultural spaces.

Technology

We'll be augmenting the School's existing deployment of Kontakt.io's Smart Beacons to achieve full coverage. Kontakt.io's content management system for beacons and accompanying API also opens up interesting possibilities for location-based content - for example, materials being left in meeting rooms for those attending.

The app itself will be developed using the Ionic framework for deployment on both iOS and Android.

Where We're At

Accurate and up-to-date floor plans are key to any indoor location-aware project and we're currently trying to track these down for integration. The out-of-date maps we have now will suffice for planning the beacon deployment. App development is well underway and we plan to run the student trials after the festive break.