Indoor geolocation is evolving all the time. The emergence of very successful technologies is nowadays slowed down by the compatibility of the smartphones on the market, those moving very slowly forward.
The WIFI geolocation was the first existing possibility and is still used a lot. It has the advantage of allowing a positioning x/y on a map, and thus to locate the visitor in his/her progress inside a room – but this technique is expensive and has a certain lack of precision.
The Beacon technology
is a technology supplied by Apple, allowing the notification of proximity thanks to BLE beacons (Bluetooth Low Energy). The characteristics of this technology are: its low cost and small size.
This technology was first created to push geolocation-based advertising. The technology was then adapted by market players to realize indoor geolocation.
It is based on wave propagation time lap between the beacon and the receiving equipment to estimate the distance. The disadvantage lies in the sensibility of the bluetooth waves into the interferences.
The presence of metal, of a wall or of organic parts (such as a human body for example) modifies the signal (bounce and/or absorption), which then modifies the journey time between the beacon and the receiver – leading to an inaccurate measurement regarding the distance’s estimation.
The positioning of the receiver in its environment (directed towards the ground, in the palm of the hand, etc.) and the computing power of the receiver generates hazards of the measure’s estimation.
To avoid this, big publishers have designed solutions implying an increase of beacons and real-time processing of information – which, when balanced, brings a high level of acuracy.
This way, it is possible to obtain a good precision thanks to the beacons, even if it has to be adapted to the whole infrastructure. Other technologies are much more precise, but imply another “dongle” connected to the smartphone, or an external box connected via Bluetooth to the phone.
The most promising technology, created after the Bluetooth, allows a precision of less than 50 cm. We used it on the mobile guides of the Cité des Télécommunications in Lannion, with the company Tic-a-tag.
Localization based on the light. A light issues shining “tags” at a no-visible frequency. This is how the localization is made.
We used this solution at the Logis de la Chabotterie in Vendée.
In the sound broadcasting network of a specific area, each loudspeaker will release a signal, inaudible for the human being but recognized by the machine.
This technology’s inconvenience is the use of ultrasounds which, in certain cases, are amplified by devices for the hearing-impaired people.
Radio frequencies cartography
This technology is based on the implementation of numerous beacons. The system deals with the information emitted by the beacons and those of the other visible radio networks in the museum.
This technology allows a precise localization of the visitor in space. A precision allowing its positioning on a map, but also advanced features such as the guiding of the visitors from one point to the other.
A constant evolution
The techniques of localization evolve very quickly.
It seems important to us to manage the location of rooms, to be able to show the map of the area in which a visitor is situated.
This visitor can then visualize, within the room, where objects are – or works – which he can interpret. When approaching those, the beacon detects his presence and then analyzes the information.
Geolocation & Musée d’arts de Nantes – Behind the scenes
What made the digital magic possible? Here is how it happened.
Mazedia created the graphics and designed interfaces for the various devices: the website, the mobile app, the kiosks, and the “magnifying glass” stations. All of them are linked to Wezit, the transmedia platform that enables structuring and personalizing the digital content published across devices. Visitors, in particular, may use a variety of devices, such as smartphones, tablets, kiosks or the website portal. Also, Wezit enables museum curators and administrators to manage the digital content.
Technically, there are two different ways of providing location.
One is using proximity, as in “I’m standing near ‘Le Déluge’ exhibit”. There is also use for actual geographic coordinates. For instance: “I’m on the 2nd floor, in the 3rd gallery, near the center of the room”. This second version delivers coordinates: latitude, longitude and level.
iBeacons were deployed throughout the museum to provide location. These Bluetooth beacons deliver both proximity to specific spots, as the standard iBeacon functionality delivers, as well as indoor location using Accuware’s Indoor Navigation product, which first maps the location of each and every iBeacon, and then delivers coordinates to mobile apps based on the user’s real time location.
With location functionality firmly embedded in Ma Visite, visitors were able to pinpoint their current location and get guidance to locate and see any artwork of their choosing, combining autonomy and flexibility for a great experience.
Early feedback from digital infrastructure users has been very positive.