New Technology Assists Navigation in Buildings

A piece in today’s Financial Times discusses a new development which I expect will have a huge impact on many areas of human centred design. It describes the indoor navigation system launched  by the London based company Pointr (

While we are all familiar with the many uses and benefits of outdoor GPS-based navigation, we are also acutely aware of the difficulty in attempting to continue to use those capabilities inside of buildings or other features of the built environment. The loss of navigation within offices, department stores and public facilities substantially limits the design opportunities for wayfinding, attention capture or simple collection of customer feedback. Pointr would seem to be offering a way of closing this huge gap in capability.

Pointr’s indoor navigation technology is based on the use of cellphone apps and Bluetooth beacons, which are coin sized, battery powered, discs.  An application involving a large London department store used 450 beacons to cover all traffic areas. Applications such as the department store, which deploy a large number of beacons, suggest that the Pointr system can be accurate to within a single metre. This is more than enough to solve many human centred design problems within buildings and other infrastructure.

The company has suggested that it is working on a range of applications including warehouses, factories, shops, libraries, hospitals, airports and various public venues.