IoT M2M blog

The home of free hints and tips about wireless IoT / M2M

Google Maps Indoor and Google Maps Floor Plan Generator

Recently you can navigate with the new version Google Maps 6.0 in the building. Various airports and shopping centres in the U.S. have already been equipped. To navigate without GNSS signals (no GPS and Glonass) you need some radio beacons along the way. A mixture of natural radio beacons, such as GSM base stations and wireless router are now in all places. This needs only be transferred to a database. How to get data in the database? When Google Street Maps is driving around and collects MAC addresses of wireless routers it is named a very big chorus of displeasure. Have you ever looked on the access rights of “Angry Birds”? A game like “Angry Birds” has access to the cellular network and more.
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.rovio.angrybirds&hl=en

If “Angry Birds” is working as a data collector for Cell IDs and MAC addresses I don’t know, but may many other, small, free apps are collecting data in the background. Nothing is for free. Regardless, there are already several commercial databases with such information. There are even reputable companies that offer location-based services without GPS outside the Google universe. More about this story later in another article or at a meeting in your office.

Locating of my laptop via web browser I’ve tested already a few months ago. It was an accuracy landing on our house. Probably we have geo-referenced the building with our Android smart-phone to our wireless router. Because we “see” the wireless router of our neighbours, they may also be in the database. As already mentioned the locating of the laptop without GPS was very accurate.

If I locate my Motorola Razr Droid without GPS, I’m always one street ahead. The distance for locating and retrieving the special deals and calculating  it is accurate enough. The coupons for various restaurants will be forwarded directly to the phone. And if I am in a hurry, there is an app from “Burger King” for discounts.

GPS was yesterday, Glonass is today and Galileo is tomorrow. Or is Galileo already overtaken by the Big Dipper? Big Dipper is called in Chinese Beidou. China has called its GNSS Beidou and has launched two satellites, one day after Christmas.

My Razr relies on GPS and Glonass. This doubles the number of satellites in the sky. The Razr summarizes the American satellite with Russian satellites and makes a virtue of necessity. To me it is right. Position is position.

Let’s go back to the new indoor navigation of Google. It is the free service for your smart phone. Just update to version 6.0 and play with it. But there is no map of the airport or train station at the site! Don’t worry – Google takes care and provides a gratis map editor. Anyone can make floor plans available. The places with option for indoor navigation will spring up like mushrooms.

Link to Google Maps Indoor (good explanation):
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/starthere/index.html

Link to tool for the generation of floor plans with levels:
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/floorplans/

The story is not that new to me. Close the same was already by my team at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover. We had all the cell ID and power level from the base stations of the network operator Mannesmann (now Vodafone) in Hanover area. All salesmen of tickets for the cable car were equipped with GSM-tracking without GPS.

For locating at the airport I have thought and written about it several months ago. One of my articles describes the locating with Bluetooth Proximity tags. An app for my smart phone I’ve liked just before the Christmas holiday by the manufacturer. The new radio beacons based on Bluetooth Smart have just to be stored in the databases.

Why do I have liked a Razr instead of Samsung S2 or Nexus Prime from Santa Claus? The S2 is a great smart phone, but unfortunately it offers no new technology such as NFC and Bluetooth Smart. The Nexus Prime has NFC but no Bluetooth Low Energy. But I need Bluetooth Low Energy to optimise my 15 years old idea about locating and navigation without GPS. About 50 % of my projects have the subject locating. Most are based not only on GPS. Sometimes it is the combination of GPS with Glonass – sometimes dead reckoning by gyro and wheel sensor is in use. In other projects the solution is Wi-Fi (WLAN) positioning. In further projects ISM radio beacons help to optimise the result. On top everything is getting smaller and cheaper. Bluetooth Low Energy is extremely small, extremely energy efficient and extremely inexpensive.

I am prepared, my Razr too – who else?

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