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MallRat.app

A smartphone app for shoppers. Requires cooperation from the mall.
 
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This is a smartphone application designed to help mall goers find their way around unfamiliar shopping malls. If you're going to be visiting a new town, or a mall in your own area you're not very familiar with, then you can use this app to download the floor plan and store directory (you know, those big "you are here" maps) for that mall straight to your phone. Using the smartphone's internal accelerometer and compass to stay oriented and track your movement, it will be able to guide you with voice turn-by-turn directions to the store of your choice.

Simply open the app, use the search function to find the mall you're looking for, and download the directory. Once that is done, you can use the search function further to put in the name of the store you are looking for, and the navigator takes over from there. Simply pair with a Bluetooth beacon at any of the mall's entrances, and it will orient your device to know you're facing into the store at that point, and which direction that is so the compass can take over and start tracking your movements with the accelerometer.

Instead of GPS or cell tower triangulation, it simply uses the accelerometer and compass. I'm not really sure if an accelerometer can be used to measure distance moved, though... and this kinda depends on that to work. Any accelerometry professors in the room? I think with some confidence that it will work, just like the inertial navigation systems used in rockets and submarines.

21 Quest, Feb 19 2010

GUIDE Project http://www.guide.la...ac.uk/overview.html
Some bods over at the University of Lancaster (UK) researched a system for location based tourist guide. [Jinbish, Feb 19 2010]

Example Mall directory iPhone app http://www.intomobi...alls-with-ease.html
Uses GPS to identify your local mall and then download information about it. [Jinbish, Feb 19 2010]

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       Reminds me a bit of the GUIDE project by Lancaster Uni. This was when wireless provision was limited and the memory and processing of mobile devices was much less (it was in 1999). The research was therefore focussed on clever broadcast systems and only having the info that you needed relevant to the location your were in.
  

       I like the idea - but I've got the feeling this must've been done. Maybe this is one of those ideas that *should* exist but doesn't... (bun in the post, and I'll do a search for anything similar)
Jinbish, Feb 19 2010
  

       Actually, there's quite a few location-based tourist guide apps out there now that take advantage of GPS and tower triangulation. Where, Google Places Directory, and Aloqa are a few that come immediately to mind.
21 Quest, Feb 19 2010
  

       That's my point - tourist guides are ten-a-penny these days with such powerful mobile computing devices and GPS connections...
  

       GUIDE is over 10 years old and they had comparatively little to work with. A key point of their work was using local wireless beacons to identify location - like you propose BT.
  

       Furthermore I've seen a lot of location-based services proposed in various newer research projects. Indeed, my local cinema tries to send trailers of it's films to nearby films over Bluetooth. There is a current iPhone map that uses GPS to identify your nearby mall and send you a directory - but without the indoor location tracking that you suggest. Put those two concepts together and you get what you propose...
Jinbish, Feb 19 2010
  

       Hold on - I've runaway with Bluetooth. You suggest using the accelerometer and compass - using the map and the last known GPS location as your starting point... In my train of thought I was thinking of localized Bluetooth beacon.
  

       You're idea sounds more interesting and a lot less like a scenario from a typical wireless location-based service project.
  

       The orientation of the phone etc. might make the task of working location out by just accelerometer and compass very, very tricky but so what? Keep the bun!
Jinbish, Feb 19 2010
  

       Thanks for the buns, guys.
  

       The MyTouch 3G (my current phone of choice) has an available carry case that straps to your arm for jogging and other strenuous activity. If you used a carry solution like that, the phone would stay in the same orientation as you walked. I wonder if that might help with the accuracy?
  

       Edit: I just found a similar app on the Android Market, which shows floor maps and store lists for the local mall here... but it doesn't show on the map where the Hell I am in the mall, so it's essentially worthless for finding your way around.
21 Quest, Feb 19 2010
  
      
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