In 2006, faberNovel (the company I work with) started a project called BlueEyes with RATP (similar to NYC’s MTA but for Paris).
Originally it was a product intended to help those with sight impairments find their way around the Paris Metro. Created in the days before apps (and in fact before the iPhone), the system used bluetooth beacons to allow users to triangulate, find their exact location, and navigate to their destination with a series of directions. Pretty cool for 2006.
Now flash forward five years, and BlueEyes has become a super-sleek product that can be configured to help anyone navigate through any indoor area, using any kind of smartphone (and without the need for pesky bluetooth). faberNovel is exploring using it for airports right now (as you can see in this video). It’s interesting to think how useful this kind of technology could be, especially in airports that aren’t your own, and especially when you have to make a connecting flight and you’ve got fifteen minutes to find your gate, and would also like to pick up a meal to take with you… and you don’t speak the language.
It occurs to me that this is where navigation is going, fast. Sure we’ve got GPS satellite directions to get us from here to Montreal without taking a wrong turn in Albany, and that’s great, but the bigger challenge perhaps, the more day-to-day challenge, is how to get from A to B, where A and B are maybe just a couple hundred yards apart, and where you have no real idea where B is, because it’s not a landmark but rather a connecting flight, or a store you want to find, or a person you want to meet.
Maybe B is something 2 feet in diameter. Maybe B is something that moves.
This seems like a need and an ability and a way of navigating the world that we’re all converging on right now. Just like Foursquare allows us to see where our friends are (or were, anyway), our phones are going to allow us to find our way to any little thing we’re trying to find, right down to the “turn left in 3 feet” level of granularity.
I haven’t ever come across this in the wild yet, but I’m guessing that within a few years many of us will be using this kind of technology on a regular basis, to find our way to the things we want more quickly.
This is where the world is going next.