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Indoor Explorer: Just the Beginning

By Larry Skutchan

Over the past year, we began expanding the capabilities of the Nearby Explorer GPS app to extend to indoor spaces. We began by creating a set of instructions and adding app support to mark points of interest for locations within a building and to obtain a reliable estimate of the user’s location within that building.

Under a pilot project to get at least 20 locations in the Louisville area included, we, along with a generous grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation and support from the Mayor’s office, mapped and installed beacons in several sites indicated as interesting to potential users. These sites included the Louisville International Airport, Kentucky Convention Center, YUM Center, and all the museums on “Museum Row.”

The maps are in OpenStreetMap, so they can be used by any application. We added support to Nearby Explorer to treat this indoor information just like it treats outdoor points of interest, so you get real-time updates about the name, distance, and location of these points while you move through one of these venues.

The idea is to create an extensible system for any venue to add such information, and while most of the activity has been in the Louisville area, the next year should see this data expand to other locations around the world.

After that, we intend to focus on increasing accuracy of locations and add routing capabilities to indoor locations.

If you live in the Louisville area, try using the app at one of the mapped locations:

  • 21c Museum Hotel
  • Actors Theatre of Louisville
  • American Printing House for the Blind
  • Crescent Hill Branch, Louisville Free Public Library
  • Frazier History Museum
  • Hyatt Regency Louisville
  • Kentucky Center for the Arts
  • Kentucky Science Center
  • LouieLab and C/NET Smart Apartment
  • Louisville International Airport (SDF)
  • McDowell Center
  • Muhammad Ali Center
  • Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS)

Provide feedback through the app’s Feedback button.

If you want to add a location, see the instructions for how to map a venue.

Let’s all work together to get every applicable building in the world mapped!

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