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KAIST Scientists Pioneer Indoor Navigation Technology using Wi-Fi

Have you ever gotten lost in a giant shopping mall and wanted to rip your hair out trying to find your friends? Well, soon, finding the food court may be as easy as whipping out your smartphone. Scientists at KAIST (The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) recently pioneered a new mapping technology using Wi-Fi “fingerprints.”

Normally, outdoor mapping tools like Google Maps use GPS to find where you are and give you directions. But Google Maps is pretty much useless indoors because things like roofs and walls block satellite signals. Korean scientists solved this problem by creating a technology that makes indoor navigation services without GPS possible.

Simply put, this technology builds maps on your phone using Wi-Fi radio signals. The KAIST research team installed smartphone apps that figured out your location by checking the strength of Wi-Fi signals around you as you move around – that’s called the Wi-Fi fingerprint. No need for GPS or a database of existing maps.

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Not only will it reduce the stress of getting lost, but this technology can also inspire other services to improve your shopping experience. For instance, one of your favorite clothing stores at the mall can send a coupon to your phone when you pass by their doors. Already, indoor mapping is creating buzz as the hot technology of 2013.

To increase the accuracy of finding your location, mapping developers are considering methods of supplementing Wi-Fi signals. This may include gyroscopes to calculate direction and atmospheric pressure sensors to determine whether you’re on the first or second floor of the mall.

The great news is that most popular mobile devices already come with all these necessary features. The Samsung Galaxy S III actually has all the sensors, including the pressure sensors. This means that getting indoor mapping may be as painless as installing an app.

As regular visitors of the fabulous new IFC Mall in Yeouido, Seoul, we say, indoor mapping can’t come soon enough!

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About the author by Anna Sohn

I’m a New Jersey girl with a lifelong fascination with Korea, my motherland. In 2011, I moved to Seoul and I’ve enjoyed living in this wired and fast-paced city ever since. I’m excited to share the latest tech and design developments I encounter in Korea and hope you enjoy the AT&D blog as much I enjoy writing for it!

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