Since current indoor navigation systems rely on GPS tracking, they are only available for use in limited areas such as airports or large shopping centres. Despite the problems that have arisen with the use of GPS software – mainly the lack of accuracy when attempting to track real time movement indoors – there are some projects that have continued with this approach to develop indoor navigation systems suitable for a wider range of environments.
Steerpath 1 is an application mainly targeted towards offices but has also been implemented in hospitals and campuses. Their software is capable of colleague tracking and navigation indoors using three-dimensional maps. However, Steerpath charges organisations using their services almost 700€ euros per month and end-users are charged 2€ per month. Additionally, it can take anywhere from two to four weeks to set up indoor navigation for a specific floorplan. AtRoom, on the other hand, only charges organisations a monthly fee based on the number of maps they require to be hosted and because AtRoom does not rely on real time tracking, our maps can be fully operational far quicker than the time period quoted by Steerpath.
Google maps are attempting to signpost indoor venues with Google Indoor Maps 2.They implement layers by splitting each building into floors which will then display key information about the particular floor. Whilst the information displayed is relevant and assumed to be up to date, it is usually only the very basics. Organisations are able upload their own floorplans to the site for free, however, there is no guarantee that Google will choose to host any or all of these plans on their maps as they currently only focus on indoor navigation for specific larger-scale venues such as transport hubs and stadiums. Whilst these features are informative, there is currently no pathfinding or directional services to aid the software.
As previously mentioned, issues continue to persist when using GPS technologies indoors. The main issue with such systems is the difficulty that GPS signals have penetrating ceilings. Another potential side effect are signals reflecting off walls. Additionally, GPS signals also have a wide error margin of roughly 10 metres which can cause significant issues when used in tight spaces. Thankfully, AtRoom offers a different approach to competitors discussed above. Our system has no dependencies on GPS software and as such avoids the issues arising in these applications.
Stakeholders of AtRoom play a vital role in the everyday functionality of the website. From the organisations that pay to host maps on our services to the individual users that access these maps, AtRoom considers the requirements of users on the business side and each individual user of the website in order to create a balance that works for all. Our application has universal use across both the public and private sector: any organisation can benefit from an indoor map for users, from hospitals and schools to hotels and offices. Similarly, individuals can benefit from our system. This could be speakers arriving on a campus for the first time, a new employee in an office or a medical professional working in a new ward of the hospital.
AtRoom is currently the best possible alternative to indoor navigation systems using GPS signals. The current makeup of GPS renders it incapable of providing accurate indoor navigation due to the error margin and difficulties with piercing walls and ceilings. Since AtRoom will not be tracking the user's current location or real time progress, it will not be hindered by GPS limitations like other indoor navigation systems.
AtRoom is hosting maps on a cloud-based server, meaning that server costs will increase with the number of maps hosted at a time. The same can be said for web server costs, which will increase with the number of end-users. As more maps are deployed on AtRoom, we can expect significant increases in the number of end-users. Maps for certain venues such as shopping centres in large cities or general tourist attractions may cause a large number of new users each day, rather than returning users accessing the website again. To handle the costs of hosting and running the application, organisations will be charged a monthly fee, which will increase with the number of maps hosted. Additionally, the website may accommodate non-intrusive advertisements.
The goal of AtRoom is to become the most complete 2D indoor navigation system available for general use. From the lack of industry innovation to continuing reliance of failing GPS technologies, we believe that AtRoom will be overwhelmingly successful in achieving its mission.
Whilst financial objectives are a significant contribution to the overall success of the project, we also wish to see high levels of end-user satisfaction. We expect to see fairly consistent numbers of returning and new users for maps such as train stations and indoor tourist attractions, but other maps that see the same users returning multiple times may eventually see a lower number of regular users after a certain period of time. In this scenario, mainly applicable to venues such as office complexes where employees are based in the same workstation every day and rarely access other departments, there is a risk that organisations view declines in user number as an indication that they should stop hosting on AtRoom. However, the steady stream of visitors to public attractions will negate these effects. In order to prevent website crashes or slow response times when user levels spike with events such as the first day of an academic term, AtRoom will ensure that all servers are appropriately funded to match user levels.
In order for AtRoom to be considered financially viable, these server costs must be recuperated each month alongside a profit for the developers. If organisations choose to stop hosting their map, i.e., no longer paying a monthly fee and/or users stop accessing maps that are expected to have consistent levels of user activity, AtRoom would be considered as a failure financially. To counteract these concerns, AtRoom will have optional surveys for end users to submit, with the results sent to the AtRoom team for consideration. Similarly, organisations hosting maps on AtRoom will be given a breakdown of how many users are making use of the service and the main scenarios where AtRoom is being used.
AtRoom aims to secure partner organisations to which we will provide specialised, branded versions. Additionally, AtRoom has the facilities in place to be interactive with other applications, such as scheduling or conference apps. To declare this venture a success, AtRoom expects to see a steady increase in partner organisation numbers throughout the initial release phase.