Expos and mega trade shows and Olympic Games; the sheer scope and scale that make them so alluring to the visitor can also be their undoing if wayfinding is not up to the task.
The next wave of mega events is poised to respond with a range of new technologies (and creative new applications of some existing ones) that transcend the limitations of old standbys like 2D maps, signage, digital and printed programmes and expensive human assistance. What’s in store is a fundamental change not only in how we reach our destinations, but how we perceive events, how we behave at events, and how events are planned.
Tokyo Olympics: Technology leads the way
Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are shaping up to be a showcase of Japanese technological leadership. To that end, big industry names are striving to place state-of-the-art applications into the hands of visitors, where they will be most noticed.
Multilingual AI-powered robots created by Toyota will be on hand at Olympic venues to assist visitors in a number of ways, including with wayfinding. Other robots – autonomous vehicles – may be available for hire via a smartphone as taxis, as well as for getting from place to place within Olympic venues.
Where robots are not available, there will be real-time translation devices to enhance wayfinding. Panasonic intends to introduce a pocket-sized device that instantly translates spoken words into text in any of 10 languages, and even translates Japanese signage.
Where it’s pointing – navigation as second nature
As impressive as the Olympic examples are, they only hint at the next big step in navigation: the fully personalised, anticipatory experience.
Upgrades of traditional digital maps such as Google Maps and Streetview are already showing the way to this new form of navigation. The experimental Google Maps AR takes another step by combining 2D maps with overlaid phone camera images and contextualised directional information.
Source from 9to5Google
Navigating the future – today: In-store and in-museum experiences
The navigational trails blazed by Google aren’t just finding application in the great outdoors. Variations on the theme are being used by forward-thinking retailers to draw customers back into brick-and-mortar shops – with revolutionary implications for large events and exhibitions.
Shoppers who are increasingly comfortable finding, comparing and purchasing products online will tend to expect their forays into brick-and-mortar retail to be similar or better. That’s where indoor navigation platforms come into play.
Like Google Maps AR, the system works with the user’s smartphone to present an AR-overlaid path to their destination. However, with platforms such as DENT Reality, the navigation doesn’t end at the doorstep; the company will also help businesses and organizations to integrate the system into their own apps. Along with wifi-based indoor positioning, the result will be a system that is aware of the users’ location at all times, while users can rely on its AR overlay to not only point the way to destinations, but also through them.
Looking to museums, several innovative curators are delivering personalised navigation experiences. In some cases, they are tailored for the hardest-to-please museumgoers of all – children. Users of the Art Institute of Chicago ‘JourneyMaker’ website can pre-select what they want to see, then print out a custom-made museum guide. The site even provides recommendations for future visits.
Source from The Art Institute of Chicago
Paths for exhibitions
Improved navigation would go a long way to improving the user experience at exhibitions, but are proving a challenge to implement. Nevertheless, developers are taking cues (and whole technologies) from expos, mega-events and shopping malls to create effective interim solutions.
At PetExpo Singapore in April 2019, visitors interacted with a fixed-point screen to plan routes even through the venue. Their personalised maps could be exported to handheld devices.
Guiding exhibitions to the target
Such fixed-point systems are a leap forward, but only partly fulfil the real transformative potential of new navigational technologies. Ideally, further development will give visitors a richer, barrier-free exhibition experience, while organizers and planners would be free to design more complex floorplans incorporating a greater number of booths and diversity of exhibitors.
The direction is clear and the technology is nearly ready. Is the industry ready to take the next step?
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