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November 2012: No GPS Signal? The NAVVIS Positioning System Finds the Right Way

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 2012: No GPS Signal? The NAVVIS Positioning System Finds the Right Way

Whether you are walking, biking or driving, navigation systems assist with getting from A to B – provided a GPS signal is available. This positioning technology generally works well in urban and rural outdoor areas, but is of limited use indoors. To find the way in large, complex indoor settings like hospitals or airports, we often need to rely on signs. Researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM) have developed NAVVIS, a positioning system which uses visual information and realistic 3D images to point users in the right direction.

NAVVIS is primarily based on visual information. Its main capabilities are the localization and mapping of the environment to determine position and orientation. Through a smart phone app, users can view a map for self-localization. After taking a photo of the surroundings, the program then compares the photo with the images in its database and determines the exact location and direction in which the user is facing. 3D arrows will then point the way to the desired location.

NAVVIS is currently being tested at TUM: “With multiple floors and winding corridors, the main campus is something of a maze after several decades of expansion, making this an ideal NAVVIS testing ground,” says Georg Schroth, project head at TUM’s Institute for Media Technology. Besides navigation, NAVVIS can also be used for augmented reality applications at museums or virtual tours on a PC or smart phone. For more information, click here.

Photo: For the mapping NAVVIS uses both vertical and horizontal laser scans.The environment is displayed as a three-dimensional point cloud. Image: G. Schroth/TUM