Visualisation versus interpretation;
The difference between photo or image based navigation and digital maps

Indoor navigation or mobile wayfinding is about using technology to enhance, refine and personalize a larger wayfinding process. It is about recognizing how people typically understand an environment and enhancing the effectiveness of that, rather than forcing people into interpreting unnatural representations of their environs.

Hence, indoor navigation or mobile wayfinding is not about technology. Technology is never an objective on itself. It is for that reason that just copying outdoor navigation technology to an indoor environment is not necessarily the way to go.
The objective at all time is, to increase the wayfinding performance of building visitors

Mobile navigation technology might increase this performance, but we first have to learn how. This requires deeper research in human behavior when navigating inside large complex buildings. The people at Eyedog Indoor Navigation have a strong scientific background in wayfinding or in mathematics. Extensive research gave us the understanding how mathematics and technology can contribute to a near perfect wayfinding experience.

Many people have difficulties in interpreting maps and other abstract visualizations of space. Research acknowledges that indoor maps are a compromised interface for people finding their way in complex environments (Prof. Dr. Christoph Hölscher et al. (2007) University of Freiburg & Max Planck Institute, Germany).

One of the most important elements wayfinding best practices acknowledges, is that most orientation occurs via landmark for any building user (Prof. Dr. Ph. De Maeyer et al. (2015) Ghent University, Belgium). Consequently, landmarks are ideal wayfinding tools for directing a person from A to B as they allow fast reasoning and efficient communication (Richter & Winter, 2014). Moreover, the use of landmarks is often linked with the quality of route instructions as they are related to the natural cognitive navigation process of humans (e.g. Dr. Hund & Padgitt (2010), Lovelace, Hegarty, & Montello ('99), May et al. ('03), Streeter, Vitello, & Wonsiewicz ('85)).

People generate mental maps of their surroundings via land marking and remember the navigational instruction set that ties them together. Related, spatial processing occurs primarily in the initial moments they see a given landmark.

This principle is illustrated by the following anecdotal set of directions when somebody ask another person for the directions to - for example - the train station:

 

“Go straight until you see a gas-station and turn left there. Then go three blocks straight until you get at a roundabout. Go right there and move on until you see the church. First block after the church go right again and then keep on moving until you get to the train station”

 

Eyedog Photo Navigation works in this manner, although the user does not need to remember anything at all, with optimized paths in a building available within just seconds. Note that since all destinations refer to each other, in a building with 150 destinations, we eliminating the complexity of more than 20,000 potential routes!
To achieve the best wayfinding experience for building visitors, landmark navigation provides the most intuitive solution for large venues with fixed indoor layouts, like hospitals, universities, malls, airports, etc. Technology is never the objective, excellent wayfinding is!

  Map based orientation. Interpretation required. In front of the Velazquez Entrance, Museo del Prado (Madrid - Spain)

Map based orientation. Interpretation required. In front of the Velazquez Entrance, Museo del Prado (Madrid - Spain)

  Photo orientation and navigation. Visualisation of the  Velazquez Entrance, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Photo orientation and navigation. Visualisation of the Velazquez Entrance, Museo del Prado, Madrid

   Google StreetView on mobile phone showing   Velazquez Entrance, Museo del Prado (Madrid - Spain)

Google StreetView on mobile phone showing Velazquez Entrance, Museo del Prado (Madrid - Spain)

the most accessible wayfinding system

It has been very challenging until today, to define wayfinding systems that can deal with every user group in the the population. User groups can be different concerning age, social relations, cultural relations, job relations, physical and mental capability. Mobile wayfinding unlocks possibilities to offer tailor made instructions and routes for people that need special attention.

Some people need specific routing due to a physical impairment or they have a child in a stroller that withholds them taking elevators and escalators. Foreigners, who are not able to read signs need instructions in a language they master. Low-literacy, obstructing people from reading anything at all, older people needing special assistance due to visual impairment, bending forward postures, etc. Mobile Wayfinding has the potential to help these people finding their way inside complex buildings.