You're on the last leg of your business trip, wondering how to find your gate in a strange airport. Google might be able to help you.
The technology giant has released a beta version of Google Maps Floor Plans, which allows users to create floor plans of the interior of a building, such as a retail store or an airport terminal. After finding the building on the map, someone with floor plans or blueprints can upload them, line up the interiors with satellite images, and share with others who are using Google Maps 6.0 for Android 2.2 and above.
No release date was given for the same functionality on other platforms that offer Google applications.
The Blue Dot
The interior map automatically appears when a user zooms into a building that has a floor plan uploaded. When the user has a blue dot to indicate his or her location, the floor plan will automatically display the correct floor in a multi-store building.
The blue dot-indicated My Location, which was launched in 2007, uses cell tower identification to provide approximate location for those smartphones without GPS. My Location can supplement GPS, or work indoors on occasions when GPS does not.
To get the ball rolling, Google has partnered with a variety of retailers, airports, and transit stations to begin populating Google Maps with interiors. Airports include the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Narita International Airport in Japan.
Retailers include the Mall of America in Minneapolis, IKEA, some Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, and Daimaru, Takashimaya and Miksukoshi in Japan. In all, there are about three dozen participating locations so far in the U.S., and approximately another three dozen in Japan.
In a posting on the Official Google Blog, Vice President Brian McClendon noted earlier this week that this new functionality could become a common substitute for freestanding "you are here" map directories in an office building or mall, or the time-honored practice of asking someone who works there.
Given that it's Google, one might expect mashups in the near future to take advantage of interior maps -- especially value-added overlaps, such as ones for which Google can sell advertising or other services, such as placement fees.
There could also be a number of tie-ins with third-party products. For instance, a California-based startup called Euclid Elements announced a new platform last month that picks up Wi-Fi signals from smartphones of customers in stores, to track their flow. The service currently can only track a within 60 feet of the in-store sensors, but one can easily imagine a shopping mall submitting its interior map to Google Maps, and then using sensors to track traffic.
Indoor maps are a new frontier in device-based guides. Ericsson Labs, for instance, has released an Indoor Maps and Positioning API for Android developers, with tools needed to create indoor location-based services.
Posted: 2011-12-03 @ 12:52am PT
To get the ball rolling, Google has partnered with a variety of retailers, airports, and transit stations to begin populating Google Maps with interiors.