Australian operator Telstra, Google and Accenture have partnered to develop an “internal wayfinding” system to help people better get around inside buildings using their phones. For the last few months, the three partners have been working together to create their first big project: wayfinding at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
Telstra reports that customers will soon be able to use their smartphone to navigate inside the stadium, from the front gate to their seat. Once the system is live, users will be able to hold up their phones and see superimposed information about where they are headed around the stadium. Customers will be able to scan their tickets, and the app will guide them directly to their seat. They can even use it to find the closest restroom at half-time or the bar with the shortest queue. Customers will also have access to surprises around the stadium in Augmented Reality.
The system leverages Telstra’s 5G network, with big data and internal wayfinding possible in AR. Telstra also says a special piece of equipment called the Street View Trekker Backpack is used to map spaces.. According to the operator, this is “literally a backpack containing all the equipment needed to create detailed, 360-degree maps of an environment collected by walking around a space.” The next step is then to synthesize that into the data required for internal mapping, Telstra said.
Telstra and its technology partners, it appears, have found a worthy application of Augmented Reality, one that provides more than just entertainment—although its present application is within an entertainment context, in a sports stadium. Smartphones have long since proved their ability to support navigation, as exemplified by map apps and driving navigation apps which depend on dynamic geolocation. The wayfinding system developed under Telstra’s aegis integrates AR into these existing functionalities in a way that allows the user to be visually guided to his or her destination in real time, with the navigational information superimposed on their field of vision.
The internal wayfinding system, of course, constitutes a source of revenue for Telstra as well as for its partners, but it is also a means by which the operator’s 5G network can be not only utilized but advertised. The big-data capabilities of the high-speed network will be showcased by the wayfinding process, which benefits the operator in ways that go beyond this particular product.
The system also represents future opportunities. AR-enhanced wayfinding, built on data gathered and processed by devices like the Street View Trekker Backpack, could be used to help guide people through a wide range of different kinds of structures, not limited to sports venues. It could be marketed to businesses to help employees find their way through work facilities, and it also could be of use to emergency personnel trying to find their way at the scene of an incident. Of course, the viability of such applications would depend on the collection of a vast amount of location and architectural data.