Google Maps is the best online global map without doubt. It was developing with latest technologies as well as latest details of the globe for the past few years. As a result it offers us features that no other traditional map offers such as satellite view, voice commands, navigation and street view. Most of the people use this kind of advanced maps for navigation, to search places around them and for other scientific applications, for an example, surveying land. Further, they let the users to update their local maps which is called “crowd sourcing”, and helps the Google Maps to be up to date than any other online map. Usage of Google Maps became easier with the introduction of mobile applications which gives us an even better user experience than the web interface. It was available for many mobile platforms and most of the updates were available for Google’s Android Mobile Platform.
However, when you try to enter a building, at the door step Google maps leaves you alone. In the building you have to use a conventional printed map to find where you want to go. This is a very unpleasant experience to Google Maps users. The latest release, Google Maps 6.0 for Android solves the problem.
How It Works
When you are using Google Maps you can zoom in to see more details. Normally, zoom in stops at a certain level of detail. But when you are using new Google Maps, if there is a building with the floor plan you can zoom further in to see the indoor details of the building. Same as street details you can see names and description of indoor shops and offices if they are available. And of course you can search for them as well. This comes in handy when you want to quickly find the wash room in a huge air port. GPS technology is capable of measuring altitude, so the application is capable of changing the floor automatically as you move up or down. And there is a side bar for you to change the floor levels manually in case you want to take a look at the floor plan without going there. There is an online demo published by Google which explains the operations in graphic details. See the below video as well.
Is GPS Accurate Enough to Track Me in a Building?
The next big question, most of the time there is a light blue circle around the pointed location on Google Maps, which represent the accuracy. In other words you can be anywhere in that light blue circle. Furthermore Google maps gives you a numeric representation of accuracy as well, like 10M. Is this enough to pinpoint me in a small building?
The simple answer is YES! If GPS is accurate enough to keep you on the right lane on the right road, it should be accurate enough to point you usefully in a small building as long as you have strong GPS signals.
The next question, “I have heard that GPS signals are weak inside buildings. So how can they be strong enough to point me accurately?”
There is a serious point, that signals get weaker when they go through buildings, especially through concrete. Therefore you might face difficulties about the accuracy of the positioning in a building. In other words, when you go to Nike store Google Maps will say you are near GAP store. But most of the time you will get 5-10M accuracy which is way enough to find the location in any small building.
This issue is beyond the Google Maps control but they have done their best. It is more of an issue with GPS satellites and their signal strength. What Google Map does is get the location details from your handset’s built in GPS device and present them in the map. Mobile handset manufactures will keep looking for solutions to capture the weak GPS signals, And there is always a hope that scientists will come up with new innovative technologies for Global positioning.
Where the Floor Plans Comes From?
You already know that you can edit the Google Maps by yourself. After moderation and verification, the changes you did will appear in the public map. This is what they call “Crowd Sourcing”, let public to develop the details of Google Maps.
In the initial version of Google Map 6.0 for Android has covered many important buildings by Google themselves. And again, further development is crowd sourced. You can add your building in here following below four steps.
Locate: Search you your building and locate it on the Google Maps. Drag and drop the marker to the middle of the building. If you are using Satellite view, this will be easier. Then proceed to upload.
Upload: After selecting the building you can upload the floor plan. As information you have to give the building name and floor label as mentioned in the elevator.
Align: In here you have to align the map with the Google Maps. For that they are giving 3 marks, to tell the Google Maps how to align the floor plan with the map.
Submit: Finally submit the floor plan for moderation and verification. After that it will appear on Google Maps, for everyone.
Here is a video released by Google Maps which explains the procedure of adding a floor plan step by step.
What Can We Do With This?
This new feature of Google Maps opens many opportunities to the business world, majorly for Travel industry. Travel agents like to let their customers to be free during a journey. But in most of the cases there has to be a travel guide and travelers who purchase the package will have to follow him, which is not a good experience to travelers. Recently I have seen, travel organizers give a tablet device to travelers with Google Maps and they can be freely travelling in a certain area with the support of the map and GPS without travel guide around. Yet, it was limited , since there was no Google Maps for Buildings’ floor plans. If one traveler lost in a shopping center,it is huge time delay and bad for business as well. Solution again was a “Travel Guide” which leads back to the same problem.
However this new feature solves it all. Travel agents can let the travelers to be free even in a building with their Android tablet without a travel guide. It will be a positive experience to the travelers and good for the business as well. As long as Google Maps comes for free, Travel agent won’t have to spend extra for this. This will be an advantage for shopping tour organizers who send travelers to Singapore and Malaysia. However, they have to make sure the Google Maps have the updated floor plans of the required buildings.
I have used Google Maps to find local business many times. But if a business office is located in a building and in the 3rd floor, I will run in to a big problem. At the same time the business owner also facing a problem, why his customers can’t find him in Google Maps.
With Google Maps 6.0 for android, this problem has been solved and open new opportunities for businesses owners. They can list their office located in a building even with accurate floor level. So his customer can easily search and find the location of business. And most of the business web site embeds Google Maps in their web site. Now that they can embed the Map with floor pan of the building and floor level as well.
Google continue to surprise users by expanding its capabilities beyond the World Wide Web. It has already reached the mobile software market and dominated it defeating previous empires. Google’s Android is the most used mobile operating system today and moving on with frequent updates and developments. Google Maps 6.0 with indoor view will definitely add extra color to Android world and will be a good strength to stand tall among other mobile platforms, showing the power of “Free and Open Source”
« Previous Article
Next Article »