Indoor Navigation for Event Venues and Events

We can hardly do without navigation in our cars. If it’s up to professor Nico Van de Weghe we soon use navigation indoors as well. Today he tells us what makes this so interesting for the event industry.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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We can hardly do without navigation in our cars. If it’s up to professor Nico Van de Weghe we soon use navigation indoors as well. Today he tells us what makes this so interesting for the event industry.


Hi Nico, welcome to our studio.




Today we’re going to talk about indoor navigation. But why is there a need for indoor navigation?


The reason is, at this moment it’s very difficult to navigate indoors because of two reasons. First of all there’s the financial reason, and there is also the technical reason. Outdoor we have no problems nowadays, because we have GPS and we can use it everywhere outdoors. So it’s possible everywhere to locate yourself and to navigate outdoors, for example via Google Maps. But indoors, these signals don’t work and then you get problems. Of course you can install your building with for example iBeacon. Then you can create a so called smart building, but this is very expensive. You can also try to use laser scanning to map the building indoors, but that is also very expensive. And on the other hand it’s also very difficult to use the algorithms that are used outdoors for indoor navigation.


So we need something different.


Yes, you need something different indoors. We introduced the idea and the tool of SoleWay. Which is navigation for the sole solution to find your way indoors. Which is very low tech, very cheap, actually it’s for free. And can be used directly by all visitors of buildings of events, and of course also by the organizers.


And how does it work?


Well, the thing is, if you enter a building, and you want to find for example the toilet in, for example, a big hotel; what you typically do is, you ask the question at the entrance to somebody who is working there and that person says, okay, you have to take for example the elevator to the second floor, then go to the right and then the second door at the left side, there you find the toilet. We, as humans, understand this. It’s not a problem for us, of course. So we can use such descriptions, and this is actually what SoleWay uses. So SoleWay does nog use maps and so on, but it just uses brief and simple descriptions, that you just can use, using your smartphone.


But how do they know that you are actually at the reception desk as a starting point for your trip?


Of course we use the technology that is used outside, the GPS. So, if you have your tool and you go outside, SoleWay also tracks your GPS. And then at a specific moment, if you want to enter the building, you have to ask or to type in SoleWay, for example “where is the toilet?” So SoleWay knows where you are, in which environment, in which entrance of the building you are, and from there it will just gives you the description.


And why is there a need for this kind of application? Don’t we find our way in buildings?


Very often we find our way, but also very often we don’t find our way. Or it takes a long time. So, there is certainly a kind of problem to find your way indoors. Of course not always, not for everybody, but one very interesting example in my environment is at university buildings. Typically students…


I get your point, yeah.


If they have to find the lecture room they very often have big difficulties in order to find this. And therefor they can us SoleWay, which is now for example at Ghent University.


And there is a link of course with events…




But how can this technology be used on events?


Events, of course, you have lots of events. But events that are indoors are typically in big rooms, big environments. So there it’s very interesting to use SoleWay. For example saying, okay, I want to go from the entrance to the big concert hall, you could then use this tool. And also if you go a bit broader, let’s say on the hall side of a big event, there you can also use SoleWay. Because it’s not restricted to indoor environments. You can also use it, let’s say, in the in between environment where you combine indoors and outdoors. So therefor it’s also interesting at typical festivals for example, that we typically have here in Flanders, Belgium.


You mean [*** mention? 04.46] a concert?




Is it even be possible to guide someone to the actually chair he needs to sit on?


Well, that’s a good idea. I’ve never thought about that. Of course it will take a bit more time, because you have to create all routes to all the seats. But anyway you can do it quite fast, because you can just copy-paste things. So it would be a very, very interesting idea. Maybe we can talk with some organizers of such events.


If you are an organizer of events, and you want to start using this kind of technology, how do they get in contact with you?


You can easily contact me, Nico Van de Weghe, but they can also directly go to the SoleWay website. Just type in SoleWay and Ghent for example, and there they can just start using it. They don’t have to be from Ghent University, you don’t have to pay, it’s for free. Everybody can start creating routes and help the visitors of events to find their way. Indoors and outdoors.


Okay, I’m curious to try it out. Nico, thank you very much for coming over to our studio.


Okay, thanks.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show, I hope to see you next week.