Introduction

GoodMaps announces breakthrough indoor positioning technology to power accessible navigation application

GoodMaps announces breakthrough indoor positioning technology to power accessible navigation application

GoodMaps is proud to announce the release of GoodMaps Explore for iOS, with an Android version coming soon. GoodMaps Explore is an accessible wayfinding app designed primarily for people who are blind or visually impaired, which sets a new standard for indoor navigation across the globe. GoodMaps Explore uses audio instructions to communicate routing and critical spatial information as users move through a space, whether indoors or outdoors, drawing upon GoodMaps’ state-of-the-art digital maps.  In doing so, GoodMaps has solved four problems that have frustrated the field for several decades by:

  1. delivering superior positioning accuracy with minimal infrastructure,
  2. dramatically speeding the process to digitally map a building, which provides the foundation for the app,
  3. creating a way for building owners to securely control their mapping data, and
  4. providing the public with a complete package of maps with an app to actually use them.

José Gaztambide, Founder and CEO of GoodMaps, reflects, “We are thrilled to release this app and find from its early reviews such a positive response, as we are mindful of all the work that’s come before us.  From the start, we have been determined to truly listen to people who are blind or visually impaired and create technology that would offer them, and all of us, the ability to navigate space better than ever before.”    

“As an active blind traveler and technologist, I have been working for 25 years with like-minded colleagues toward the goal of free ubiquitous accessible navigation for all,” reflects Mike May, Chief Evangelist at GoodMaps. “Thousands of users and competitive products have contributed to the Explore app, which is a major step along the road to independence. I can’t wait for the next version and more mapped indoor spaces as GoodMaps continues to improve accessible navigation for everyone including navigating in our new physical distancing environment”.

Superior Accuracy with Simple Infrastructure

GoodMaps Explore indoor navigation app in an airport

Whereas indoor navigation technology in the past has been inaccurate and relied on expensive, burdensome infrastructure, GoodMaps Explore draws upon camera-based positioning (CPS). CPS utilizes sensors and a device’s camera to achieve superior accuracy, with average accuracy of 1.5 meters (~5 feet) or less – all through minimal hardware to install and maintain.

“For years, our field has been experimenting with wayfinding solutions that rely on Bluetooth beacons,” says Craig Meador, President of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). “The reality is that the use of beacons was limited.  Users experienced poor accuracy, interference issues, and often had to rely on other sources to navigate the final 15 feet.  With GoodMaps’ breakthrough, we’re able to solve these issues and drastically improve the reliability of accessible navigation.”

The key to this advancement is GoodMaps’ revolutionary indoor positioning system, which combines Augmented Reality and sensors on a device with a new system developed by Fantasmo, a GoodMaps partner. This system delivers accurate indoor location without the use of cumbersome beacons or other similar hardware. The result is a trusted and reliable wayfinding experience for people who are blind, with virtually no infrastructure to install and maintain.

Significant Gains in Efficiency

GoodMaps Studio screenshot

GoodMaps is powered by its new LiDAR-based mapping platform, GoodMaps Studio. The company creates maps by using mobile LiDAR scanners, which quickly produce digital representations of the space.

“LiDAR scanners emit thousands of pulses of laser light every second,” explains Ed Scott, CTO of GoodMaps. “We are able to use those pulses to measure distance and create a digital representation of the space. This has allowed us to drastically reduce the time it takes to create a map of the space, which has been a major barrier to indoor mapping.  We can map a building in an hour that required multiple days in old approaches.” 

“This major gain in efficiency, and a focus on multiple uses for this technology, means the field can finally take indoor navigation to scale, a goal that the market has long made elusive for people who are blind or visually impaired,” remarks Gaztambide. 

Anne Durham, Chief Officer of Innovation and Strategy at APH, comments “We have known for years that accessible indoor navigation would not be possible without accurate maps of indoor locations. With these gains in efficiency, we feel that the time to map the largest unmapped territory in the world – the indoors – is now at hand.”

New, Secure Control

GoodMaps’ technology offers building owners the ability to decide who sees what parts of their building – a key security feature lacking to date in the field, preventing others’ technology from being scaled. 

“We heard from building managers that data security was imperative to usability. No one wants their data falling into the wrong hands,” says Gaztambide. “That is why GoodMaps is built on layers of role-based permissions. What your guests, your engineers, and your staff see are all different, manageable, and customizable.”  

A Complete Package

Explore app user navigating indoors

While some indoor navigation companies offer apps but no maps, and others offer maps but no apps, GoodMaps offers both – maps with apps.  This provides a seamless, high-quality package that gets users where they want to go unlike any other technology.

“We know that maps are a means to an end, not the end itself,” remarks Gaztambide. “Explore is an important step in bringing those maps to life. We are excited to continue developing tools that fully leverage our mapping technology.”

GoodMaps Explore is currently available on the Apple App Store and will be available on Android devices later this year.  Founded in 2019 and an affiliate of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), GoodMaps (formerly Access Explorer) is a Louisville-based social enterprise dedicated to making buildings more accessible, safe, and productive through the use of digital indoor maps. For more information, go to the GoodMaps Website or Contact Us.

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