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Interactive and 3D indoor maps

Situm’s indoor positioning technology offers high accuracy without investing large sums of money in dedicated infrastructure. Today, we are proud to say that our technology is used in thousands of buildings in more than 70 countries by companies such as AENA, Acciona, Quirónsalud, Ferrovial, or Securitas.

But at Situm we don’t want to stop there. Our vision is to provide, in a single platform, everything you need to build indoor location-based services. Thus, we have published our Wayfinding modules and open-source sample apps so that any developer can create their mobile app in minutes on multiple platforms. Not only that. We have also published SDKs for Javascript and even a widget that allows embedding maps and indoor cartography in any web or digital information point (kiosk).

In short, we want to make creating apps with Situm (both web and mobile) as easy as possible, and at the same time, we want these apps to provide the best possible experience to their users.

Cartography is a fundamental part of this experience, both for the user and the developer. On one hand, the user wants to visualize their location on nice, intuitive, and modern maps, with high resolution and detail. On the other, the developer does not want to (and should not) have to worry about implementing all the technical detail needed to achieve this experience.

In this post, we will discuss the bet we are making in Situm regarding the indoor mapping we handle and display, as well as the several visual enhancements we have incorporated such as 3D indoor maps.

High-resolution and interactive indoor maps

At Situm, we have been offering high-resolution maps for a long time, thanks to our support for raster tiles. But… Can we also make them interactive? For example, when you click on a room, it lights up, or you can change its look & feel dynamically.

The answer is yes. For example, we could use map labelling techniques such as Simple Indoor Tagging. This simple specification allows us to identify many elements in indoor maps (points of interest, stairs, etc.), as well as to model their connections (e.g., between different floors). And, of course, interact with them and modify them programmatically. 

Other alternatives, much more widespread, are based on vector formats such as GeoJSON and IMDF. GeoJSON is a standard open-source format designed to represent geographic information. It supports different types of geometries to present spaces, for example:

  • Dots are used to represent points of interest inside a building, such as a cash machine.
  • Line chains to represent corridors.  
  • Polygons to represent rooms.
  • … and a long etcetera.

Along the same lines, the IMDF (Indoor Mapping Data Format) has been developed in recent years. This specification created by Apple (based on GeoJSON) offers a compact, human-readable, and highly extensible data model for any indoor space allowing the definition of a wide variety of categories of indoor elements, and their characteristics, and attributes. IMDF is emerging as a very strong candidate standard for indoor mapping, and even the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has recently added it to its recognized standards.

Although you can continue to use Situm as you do now (with raster maps and raster tiles), we are working to support vector formats such as GeoJSON or IMDF. As of today, you can already define your cartography following these specifications and thus achieve visually appealing results when developing Situm-based apps: more resolution and, above all, more interactivity. Here is an example of how such maps are displayed in a mobile application made with Situm.

3D Indoor Maps

Another advantage of working with maps in vector format is that it makes it easier to get 3D representations.

By default, Situm always offered 2D and 2.5D cartographic visualizations. The 2D visualization is achieved by representing the plan of a building on a viewer without perspective. On the other hand, we can obtain the 2.5D visualization by adding to the equation the different floors of the building, but especially the isometric perspective provided by Situm’s visualization tools: Situm Dashboard, Situm WYF, and Situm Map Viewer.

When we talk about 3D indoor maps, we are referring to a representation where geometries are in 3 dimensions. This is undoubtedly a very attractive representation: we are all used to seeing it in applications such as Google Earth or Google Maps. 

Google Earth 3D map visualization.

At Situm we asked ourselves: why not provide this kind of display in indoor guidance applications? Under this perspective, we have achieved very attractive visual experiences in 3D while maintaining the simplicity of interaction with the map that 2D visualization provides. Our newly developed Map Viewer (which you can easily integrate into your web or digital kiosk as shown here) proves it.

In the coming months, we will continue to work to extend this capability to all our software, including Situm Dashboard, Situm SDKs and Situm WYF.

We can help you!

If you are interested in creating navigation, positioning, or indoor mapping visually attractive apps, both for web and mobile, do not hesitate to contact us. We will provide you with the tools you need, and we will help you in any cartographic creation/adaptation you need to do.

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