Can Near Field Communication Solve the Limitations in Mobile Indoor Navigation?

Can Near Field Communication Solve the Limitations in Mobile Indoor Navigation?

Wilson E. Sakpere (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa) and Michael O. Adeyeye (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6308-4.ch003


The navigation ecosystem is rapidly changing. Indoor navigation has attracted attention with the introduction of mobile devices into the market. Although mobile devices are used more often for outdoor navigation, they have opened up opportunities for indoor navigation proponents. Near Field Communication in indoor navigation is still in its exploratory stage. Despite an increase in the variety of indoor navigation research, challenges remain in designing a framework that is neither complex nor expensive. NFC is a novel method of navigating in indoor environments. Providing an overview of its benefits and usefulness compared with existing indoor navigation technologies is the subject of this chapter.
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1. Introduction

With the advent of the mobile phone, computing has become increasingly mobile, ubiquitous and context-aware. The mobile phone and smartphone in extension, is the most popular and widely used mobile device today and is fast becoming an irreplaceable device. Due to the computational power of the smartphone, it can be used for a number of functions including alarm clock, calendar, email, web search, game and navigation, with navigation forming an interesting aspect of it.

Traditionally, road signs and billboards were means of navigating outdoors and locating a destination. With the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS), navigation has metamorphosed into a simplified activity. Users have the choice of using either or both of the traditional and/or technological means of navigation. GPS has been widely adopted for outdoor navigation where it can be used to locate people or objects effectively. It is accurate and precise but has one flaw that it has not been able to support indoor navigation (Renaudin, Yalak, Tome, & Merminod, 2007). This is due to buildings and walls which serve as an obstacle to the satellite’s signals. Thus, navigating indoors with mobile devices became an interesting subject in the past decade.

An indoor navigation system consists of a network of devices used in locating objects or people inside a building. Upon knowing where something or someone is, a lot can be done with the information depending on one’s objective, such as tracking and position determination. Mobile indoor navigation involves an individual finding his/her way around in order to arrive at a desired destination using an interactive navigation system. The major challenge in indoor navigation is determining the current location of a user. Without this information, a suitable path to the destination cannot be routed or re-routed as the case may warrant.

Navigating in indoor environments is gradually attracting wider interest (Aebi, 2012; Chandgadkar, 2013; Choo, Cheong, Lee, & Teh, 2012; Hammadi, Hebsi, Zemerly, & Ng, 2012; Huang & Gao, 2013; Kannan et al., 2013; Link, Smith, Viol, & Wehrle, 2011; Rao & Fu, 2013; Wang, 2012; Zinkiewicz, 2012). Indoor positioning and navigation have been investigated over the past decades using variety of technologies (Fallah, Apostolopoulos, Bekris, & Folmer, 2013; Gu, Lo, & Niemegeers, 2009; Lukianto & Sternberg, 2011; Mautz, 2009). Various challenges and limitations exist for indoor navigation solutions. There is minimal universal solutions that address all of these challenges as there will always be a trade-off. However, there are existing solutions that effectively address specific indoor navigation challenges implicitly and we shall provide an overview of these solutions.

Fallah et al., (2013, p. 21) noted that people navigate considering either or both of path integration and/or landmark-based navigation. Path integration simply involves the use of a reference point or landmark only to locate a destination where the use of a map is needed. Landmark-based navigation, on the other hand, involves the use of a ‘physical or cognitive map’ of the environment with multiple reference points or landmarks in the navigation process. A situation where a visitor arrives at a campus for the first time and wishes to locate an office within a large building, the landmark-based approach is easily preferred. In mobile indoor navigation, the landmark-based navigation is employed since the user does not know his/her destination. Mobile indoor navigation involves three stages: (1) the current position of a user, (2) the most suitable path for the user to navigate on and, (3) the destination of the user (Huang & Gartner, 2010).

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