Navigation, in the context of this post, is defined as movement of people from one location to another. Navigation assistance is a means by which people can be provided with information about their navigation needs and preferences.
Since these two navigation environments, i.e., outdoor navigation and indoor navigation, share common characteristics and have differences. The advent of computers, among other technologies, paved the way for the development of digital navigation devices and tools. The digital navigational device GPS has had a tremendous impact on the development of modern navigation technology. The impact has been in threefold. One is that GPS has allowed ubiquitous, anywhere, anytime, positioning, with a level of accuracy and reliability suitable for a wide range of land-based navigation activities. Second is that as GPS has been used in numerous existing and new applications,
people have realized its benefits, especially for land-based navigations.
The evolution of outdoor navigation technology is divided into four generations.
The first generation of navigation technology (~1985 – ~1995) offered basic features and functions; was available for very limited geographic areas (selected cities); offered limited routing options (mainly shortest route); was only available as in-car gadgets (they were installed as luxury gadgets by the automobile manufactures on selected cars); and provided navigation assistance to the general population.
The second generation of navigation technology (~1995 – ~2000) offered basic features and functions. However, as advanced techniques were developed and feedbacks from users were incorporated, the features and functions in the second generation were the improved version of those in the first generation. The second generation of navigation technology was made available for various geographic areas (many cities); supported limited routing options; was available as portable devices; and provided navigation assistance to the general population.
The third generation of navigation technology (~2000 – ~2005) offered advanced features and functions; provided (optional) wireless connection (primarily to obtain real-time data); was available on mobile devices and personal digital assistants (PDAs); and offered routing options that met the preferences by the general population. Figure 1.5 shows an example of outdoor navigation systems in the third generation.
The fourth generation of navigation technology (~2005 -), which is the current trend, offers navigation services with a variety of new features addressing personalized navigation needs and preferences anywhere, anytime and for any user. Navigation technology in each of the first three generations can be characterized as generic and system-oriented, assisting with general navigation activities, and are either incar navigation systems or portable navigation devices. The fourth generation of navigation technology is characterized as personalized and service-oriented, assisting with navigation activities at individual level, where services are provided by navigation service providers.
System-oriented navigation assistance and service-oriented navigation assistance can be distinguished by data storage, computation, and communication. Navigation systems are stand-alone devices that can provide navigation assistance without connection to external services where they contain all the required data and can provide all the required computations. Navigation services are provided through mobile devices (e.g., smartphones) where most of the required data and most of the required computations are provided through remote servers maintained by service
Geo-positioning is at the heart of navigation systems/services for outdoors in that most navigation activities are dependent upon position information provided by geo-positioning sensors, primarily Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS). GIS contributes by providing core static data including maps and core navigation functions such as routing in navigation systems/services. Wireless communication contributes by providing real-time (dynamic) data, such as traffic, in navigation systems/services for outdoors. As shown in this figure, while wireless communication can be used as a geo-positioning sensor (e.g., WiFi), its geo-positioning role is not as dominant as GPS is for navigation in outdoors.
Compared to outdoor navigation systems/services, the evolution of indoor navigation systems/services has a much shorter time span. This is perhaps due to the fact that navigation in outdoors is much more complex than navigation in indoors. Navigation in outdoors imposes certain constraints, such as real-time decision making (especially when driving), requiring solutions to navigation problems in a much larger space (geographic area) and finding optimal routes from a very large solution space (number of options). For example, a trip may require an optimal route among
many possible options between a pair of origin and destination locations in a large city, and while enroute to the destination a new route may be needed due to change in weather or traffic or occurrence of accidents.
The evolution of indoor navigation technology can be divided into two generations
the first generation of indoor navigation technology, which debuted in the mid-1990s, only a few geo-positioning sensors were available. In general, geo-positioning sensors for indoor navigation were scarce and unaffordable.
The second generation of indoor navigation technology, which debuted around early 2000s, has enjoyed new geo-positioning sensors and techniques which offer improved accuracy and are widely available and affordable.
It is important to note that compared to navigation in outdoors, where both navigation systems and services could be utilized for navigation assistance, navigation assistance in indoors is more meaningful and practical through navigation services on ubiquitous devices such as cell phones (increasingly smartphones).
While it is common and practical that people requiring navigation assistance for driving, biking, or walking in outdoors utilize navigation systems or services provided on mobile devices, it is hard to imagine that people would be walking within a building with specialized mobile devices to find a room in the building. On the other hand, it is conceivable to imagine that people would be provided with navigation assistance in indoors through navigation services on smartphones as they are becoming commonplace alleviating the need to carry extra devices for the purpose of navigation.
Like navigation in outdoors, geo-positioning is at the heart of navigation technology for indoors in that most navigation activities are dependent upon position information provided by geo-positioning sensors. However, unlike navigation systems/services for outdoors which are predominantly based on GNSS (e.g., GPS) for geo-positioning, GPS does not play a significant role in navigation systems/services for indoors. Instead, wireless communication (e.g.,RFID, WiFi), whose role in outdoor navigation is primarily for receiving real-time (dynamic) information, is the predominant geo-positioning sensor in indoors. For the reason that indoor navigation is not affected by environmental factors, such as weather condition, there is really little need to receiving real-time data by wireless communication. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Model (BIM) contribute by providing core static data including maps. As shown in this figure, navigation functions, such as routing, could be included as separate modules into navigation systems/services for indoors.