On the Roads

THE GREAT INDOORS: MALL-MAPPING FIRM SCOOPS GOVT TECH PRIZE

MapHive’s use of wi-fi fingerprints, AI and sensor mapping creates a detailed wayfinding tool, supporting “barrier free” access

MapHive’s cartographer sets off to measure walkable routes in and out of a building

A solution to wayfinding in the “complicated maze” of Hong Kong’s indoor environment has won a top prize in the government’s annual technology awards.

Navigation firm MapHive says indoor navigation is especially troubling in Hong Kong, with limited satellite signals between and within skyscrapers making life difficult, especially for those using wheelchairs and the visually impaired.

“More than 80% of our time is spent inside an indoor space, where location-based technology is minimal,” says the firm.

For its award-winning Mapxus service, the company uses simple backpack-mounted sensors and cameras to accurately map malls, museums and campuses, producing standardised mapping formats, including for iOS apps, which offer a seamless “indoor-outdoor” transition.

Both Google and Apple already offer some indoor mapping in Hong Kong, but neither can compete with MapHive’s offering on detail: Mapxus data delves deep into stairs, columns, barriers and pillars, as well as accurately identifying all the shops and shop entrances, according to a trial run of all three services.

Google offers reasonably detailed indoor maps but no wayfinding within a mall

And while both Apple and Google feature level-by-level maps of landmark buildings in Hong Kong, neither service yet offers useful directions within a mall or building, sending users outside and back in again to move from one shop to another.

MapHive says it has enabled indoor navigation for around 100 buildings in Hong Kong, and also works with Hong Kong Blind Union on its “Smart City Walk” app, catering especially for the visually impaired and those with physical disabilities.

Mapxus won the 2020 Smart Mobility Grand Awards in the government’s annual ICT Awards announced this week.

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