05 – Wayfinding

Situm Mapping Tool allows you to test the wayfinding experience in your building. As a prerrequisite, you should have configured the Wayfinding Paths in Situm Dashboard (see next figure as an example).

Paths Menu

The basics #

Starting the route #

Then, as shown in the following figure, you may select: (1) any Point of Interest (POI) on the map or the search bar, or (2) any point in the map by performing a long-press on that point (red marker will appear).  

Then, click on the Walker icon and the app will show (3). The shortest route to your destination (dotted line). See this article for more information on route types.

(1)
(2)
(3)

a. Route path

b. Next indication

c. Current indication

Turn by turn navigation and instructions #

As shown in the following figure, (1) you will notice that the turn-by-turn instructions will be updated while you walk down the route. You may control most of this behaviour by setting the different parameters that control the turn-by-turn instructions.   

Furthermore, (2) the route path will also be updated as you walk down the route. If for whatever reason, you go outside the navigation route, Situm Mapping Tool will recompute a new route automatically. You may control how the re-routing works by setting the different parameters that control it.

(1) User Walks down the route

a. Route path

b. Next indication

c. Current indication

(2) User goes out of route

Arriving at your destination #

At a certain point, you will arrive at your destination. Situm Mapping Tool lets you control how close you need to be from your destination to consider that you have arrived. As shown in the figure, (1) this can be set in the parameter “Distance to arrive destination” (Wayfinding Settings Menu). This distance can be pictured (2) as an imaginary circle (green) around the location: if the destination lies within that circle, you have arrived and a message will be shown (3).  

(1)
(2)
(3)

Route types #

From the Wayfinding Graph of a building, Situm is able to compute three kinds of routes. You may select which type will be computed in the “Wayfinding” Settings Menu, by clicking on “Wayfinding mode” (see next Figure).

Type #1 – Shortest Route (default) #

Unsurprisingly, the “Shortest route” type computes… the route with the shortest total distance from point A to point B. This is the default route type. A thorough description on how this works can be found here.

The following figure shows an example. The user wants to go to the WC using the shortest route. Situm computes it, suggesting that the user should use the stairs. This yields a total route distance of 136 meters.

Destination, the WC in floor 1
Route section on floor 1
Begining and route section on floor 2
Stairs to access floor 1

Type #2 – Only accessible routes #

As an alternative, Situm Mapping Tool allows you to retrieve routes that are suited for people with reduced mobility. This will usually be routes that will avoid elements that are not suited for wheelchairs, such as stairs. You may want to read more on how to accessible routes work, and on how to configure them in the Situm Dashboard.

The following figure shows an example. The user wants to go to the WC using only accessible routes. Contrary to the previous case, Situm, in this case, suggests a longer route that avoids the stairs (non-accessible), using an elevator (accessible) instead. This yields a total route distance of 221 meters.

Wayfindinf mode: Only accessible routes
Destination, the WC in floor 1
Begining and route section on floor 2
Route section on floor 1

Type #3 – Only routes with not accessible floor changes #

Finally, Situm Mapping Tool allows you to compute routes that do almost the opposite: avoid floor changes that have been marked as “accessible”. This was designed with a very specific use case in mind: avoid routes that use elevators, in favour of those that use stairs/escalators. This is very useful not only to promote a healthy lifestyle but also to avoid the formation of crowds around elevators.

Re-routing #

Situm has the ability to re-compute a route if the user goes out its way. This is a nice feature if the user actually goes out of the route, but… what happens if she has not? If the positioning accuracy descends momentaneously, Situm might recompute the route erroneously (and maybe even recompute it again, just a few seconds after, when the accuracy is recovered). This “coming and going” will certainly confuse the user and damage the navigation experience. Luckily, Situm provides a few settings that can be activated to alleviate these situations.

Ignore low confidence locations #

For a variety of reasons, Situm location will have a certain error (usually, 1-3 meters in average) that will not be constant throughout the route. Typically, the error will be higher at first, and after Situm converges to the right location, it might fluctuate depending on how the user moves, how she holds the smartphone, etc. 

As shown in the following figure, this error or accuracy can be seen as a circle of confidence around the geolocation: this circle represents the area where, most likely, the real location is.  If you detect that, for whatever reason, the error in some areas of your building is higher than expected, you may turn ON the “Ignore low-quality locations” (Route and Navigation Settings menu). 

Then, Situm will ignore those low-quality locations (e.g. the red one in the following figure) when the user is following a route. The main effect will be that these geolocations will not trigger any re-routing. This will usually result in a more robust wayfinding experience. As a negative point, in some buildings the geolocation confidence may be low most of the time: therefore, most geolocations will be ignored, harming the wayfinding experience (or preventing it at all).

Outside of route threshold #

When the user is following a route, Situm location will usually not match exactly to the route points. This is because:

  1. It is unlikely that the user follows the route exactly, with a submeter accuracy.
  2. Situm also has an inherent accuracy margin (usually, 1 to 3 meters).

It is not a good idea to recompute the route for these small biases:  we would be re-routing the user all the time, damaging the user experience. A better approach is to define a distance threshold (from the user location to the route), from which the route will be recomputed.  This threshold is 15 meters by default, but can be adjusted in the “Outside Route Threshold” (Wayfinding Settings menu).  

The following image shows an example. Usually, the user location will be close enough to the route (green arrow), so re-routing will not be triggered. However, at a certain point (red arrow) the user may really go off route (or Situm might yield a temporary high location error). If the distance to the route is higher than the threshold, a new route will be computed and the user will be re-routed.

The following table can be used as a reference to adjust the Threshold.

ThresholdProsConsTypical environment
Below 5 metersIf user goes out of route, Situm will detect it (and recompute the route) very quickly.Small errors or deviations from the route may cause a re-routing, damaging user experienceSupermarkets, where parallel shelves may be less than 5 meters away.
5-15 meters (recommended)In most environments, provides the right balance between:
1. Quick out of route detection and re-routing.
2. Robustness against small deviations.
If parallel paths are closer than the threshold, sometimes the user might not be appropriately re-routed.Most environments, except those, where parallel paths are closer than 5 meters (e.g. supermarkets)
> 15 metersVery robust against virtually any accuracy errorVery slow to detect out of route situationsEnvironments where, for whatever reason, accuracy is lower than usual. 

Adjusting the location to the route #

In the previous example, we have seen how we can avoid re-routing the user unless she has really gone off route (either because she has or because Situm has returned a high error geolocation). If we assume that an user that has asked for a route is probably following it, we can go further by biasing (adjusting) its location to the route. This will have two effects:

  1. The wayfinding experience will usually be better. After all, the location will be shown exactly over the route and advance as the user moves.
  2. We will be able to decrease the Outside of Route Threshold (previous section), because the location will be more robust against spurious location errors.

The following figure shows an example. Assume that the user is following the route marked with blue dots, and the location provided by Situm (green arrow) has a few meter error.  If you turn ON the “Use routes to adjust location” (Navigation Settings menu), Situm will provide a location that is in a way adjusted to the route path, which will result in a better user experience.

On the contrary, at a certain point the user might really go off route (red arrow), or Situm may have a large unexpected location error. In this case, the route will not have enough strength to “attract” the location, therefore the location will not be adjusted to the route and (probably) the route will be recomputed (depending on the Out of Route Threshold). 

Ignoring unexpected floor changes #

There may be times where a user is following a route and all of a sudden, the location computed by Situm is in a floor that was not expected. This is common in buildings that have elevators, such as the one represented in the following figure. The user might be following the red route from the start (S) and the end (E). At some point, the user picks up an elevator from the Level 0 to the Level 2. If the elevator stops at Level 1 for some time, Situm will detect that the user is in this level and, if the location computed (L) does not fall within the Outside of Route Threshold, recompute the route.

This will result in a suboptimal user experience: the user will see that he has not stepped out of the elevator nor from the route, but the route will be recomputed (and from a location where he is not).

Situm offers the option to avoid the route re-calculation in cases like this. After all, Situm knows that the user is supposed to go directly from Level 0 to Level 2, therefore all the intermediate floor changes can be ignored. You may do this by setting a delay (in seconds) in the “Time to ignore unexpected floor changes” (Wayfinding Settings Menu). This delay will be the number of seconds that Situm will wait before re-computing the route when the user location falls within a floor that she is not supposed to be in.

Turn-by-turn indications #

We have seen that, for each route, Situm generates a set indications that the user must perform in order to advance. As shown in the following figure, (1) Situm Mapping Tool allows you to test this feature by turning ON the “Show turn-by-turn text indications” option in the Wayfinding Settings Menu. You may also turn ON the “Spoken turn-by-turn text indications ” option, which will read the instructions aloud in English (default) or Spanish, depending on your locale.

Each indication is composed by an action type (turn, go ahead, change floor), and either a change in orientation or a distance to traverse (see this article for more details). You can see an example of each in the following figure (2).  

(1)
(2)

While the user is navigation, Situm Mapping Tool will always show (and/or read) the (1) current and next instruction. In case the next instruction requires a “Turn” action, SMT will show (2) the current, the next, and the next after the next instruction. As explained in this article, the indications are continuously updated to account for the user advance and orientation changes.

(1)
(2)

Distance to change indication #

As we have seen, a route is a set of linked points that the user has to traverse, and each indication helps the user to get to the next point. When the user executes correctly the current action, the next indication will be presented, until the user gets to the end destination.

It is not reasonable to think that, when we tell the user “Go ahead for 10 meters”, she will advance exactly 10 meters and reach exactly the next point on the route. This is why Situm Mapping Tool allows you to define a threshold within which this point will be considered reached. This threshold can be modified by setting the value “Distance to next indication” in the Wayfinding Settings.  

As an example, consider the following figure. In (1), the user is in a location 5 meters away from the next point of the route. Since, the distance to the next indication is 4 meters (less than 5), the user is not considered to have reached the next point and therefore the next instruction is “Go ahead for 5 meters”. In (2), however, the user is still 5 meters away, but since the distance to the next indication is 10 meters, the user is considered to have reached the next point in the route and therefore the next indication is “Turn right”.  

(1)
  1. Go ahead for 5 metres
  2. Turn right
  3. Go ahead for 15 m
  4. Turn left
(2)
  1. Go ahead for 5 metres
  2. Turn right
  3. Go ahead for 15 m
  4. Turn left

Distance to change floor #

Another option is the “Distance to change floor”, which can be changed in the Route and Navigation Settings menu. In essence, it works exactly as the “Distance to next indication option”: the only difference is that it only operates when the next point in the route is a floor change (e.g. take stairs, elevator, etc.). 

Indications interval #

By default, every time the user moves or turns, the whole set of instructions is recomputed. This ensures that the user is presented with the right instruction always, given its last location. 

In some cases, however, this can damage the user experience. Consider, for instance, the following figure. In (1), the user should “turn left” to face the right direction. However, in less than a second, she “turns around” by mistake and then “turns right”. Situm generates all the intermediate instructions: (2) “Go ahead for 9 meters”, (3) “Turn right”, (4) “Go ahead for 9 meters”. What’s worse, if the “Indications with sounds enabled” is turned ON, all those instructions will be read to the user. This will be certainly confusing (and annoying) for the user.

(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

From image 1 to 3 the user turns around and from image 3 to 4 user turns right.

To avoid such situations, you may control how fast the set of indications is re-computed with the “Interval between indications” option in the Wayfinding Settings menu. In the previous example, an “Indications interval” of a few seconds would avoid to show (and read) the indications (2) and (3), resulting in a smoother user experience.

Round indications steps #

The indications of type “Go ahead” tell the user to advance a certain amount of meters: 1 meter, 10 meters, 47 meters, etc. In a real setting, it makes sense to approximate the distance to a more round number. After all, there’s no real difference between advancing 47 meters and 50 meters (except that 50 meters are more user friendly).

You can control the round step by setting the “Round indications” value in the Wayfinding Settings menu.

As an example of how this works, consider the following figure. 

  1. The “Round indication steps” value has not been changed, therefore the exact distance (10 meters) is shown.
  2. The “Round indication steps” value is set to 3, therefore the distance is rounded up to the closest multiple of 3, which is 9.
  3. The “Round indication steps” value is set to 5, therefore the 10 meters are rounded up to the closest multiple of 5, which is 10.
  4. Be careful! If you set the “Round indications” value too high, you may end up with unreasonable results.
(1) Round indication steps = 0 (Default)
(2) Round indication steps = 3
(3) Round indication steps = 5
(4) Round indication steps = 100

Time to first indication #

Sometimes, the first locations provided by Situm may be a bit jumpy. In this case, the first indications may not be accurate, or may even confuse the user. If this is the case, you may set up a delay between the first location and the first indication. This will allow the system to converge a bit more, increasing the chance that the first indication is correct.

You may do this by setting the value  “Time to first indication” value in the Wayfinding Settings menu.

Minimizing floor changes #

Sometimes, computing the shortest route might not be the best idea. In some buildings, computing the shortest route might be at the expense of requiring that the user performs unnatural floor changes. 

Consider the following example. The user is at point S (Start) and wants to go to point E (End). Due to the atypical morphology of the Level 1, the shortest route requires the user to move up to Level 2, traverse it, and go back down to Level 1.  This is clearly unnatural and probably a waste of time. A more natural way would be to go up from Level 0 directly to Level 1, even if this implies walking a longer distance.

If your building, due to its morphology, presents such situations, you may try to turn ON the “Minimize floor changes” option in Wayfinding Settings.

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