NTT DoCoMo and Zenrin DataCom develop new reliable indoor navigation technology

NTT DoCoMo and ZENRIN DataCom announced today their joint development of a new indoor navigation technology that combines autonomous navigation based on built-in smartphone motion sensors and route-matching based on indoor maps, primarily for navigating in indoor environments where GPS does not work effectively. As opposed to conventional beacon-based positioning-detection systems utilizing Wi-Fi Bluetooth low energy (BLE), etc., the new indoor navigation technology utilizes motion sensors built into smartphones to detect the pedestrian’s movements, such as walking straight forward, turning a corner or ascending/descending stairs. The data is then correlated to an indoor map using route-matching technology to locate the person’s position and guide them to their destination.

The new technology uses changes in atmospheric pressure to detect when a person ascends/descends stairs, or uses an escalator or elevator. When such changes are detected, it automatically switches the map to the appropriate floor/level for seamless navigation between floors or indoor/outdoor environments. The new technology enables accurate navigation as the user walks underground between subway lines, around indoor malls or in other indoor areas where GPS signals are not available for reliable navigation. DOCOMO plans to offer a new indoor navigation feature as an add-on for its Android map application for smartphones and tablets beginning from April in Japan. Initially, indoor navigation will be available in about 320 locations in Japan, including underground malls and stations.

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