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This Vest May Well Be the Future of Indoor Mapping

This Vest May Well Be the Future of Indoor Mapping
YouTube/MITNewsOffice

Online maps and Google Street View are pretty crucial tools for getting somewhere. But once you're there, figuring out exactly where to go can sometimes be a challenge. Is room B624 in the basement? A building called B? On the 6th floor?

Soon, hopefully, confusion like this will fade away.

As we recently reported, efforts are growing to create indoor maps of buildings, especially in Seoul. Though Google already offers indoor maps of places like shopping malls and convention centers, the technology hasn't spread. A new device under development at MIT could change that.

According to MIT, the future of indoor mapping could be a new prototype they've developed. It's a wearable vest equipped with a stripped down camera from the Microsoft Kinect video game system that can scan a 270-degree arc as it moves through an environment. The setup is also outfitted with accelerometers, gyroscopes and a barometer to track the shape and form of the mappable space as the walker moves around.

This video explains further, and shows how a 3D map of an indoor area can instantly develop as a person wonders through a building.

And while mapping out where the Cinnabon is inside a shopping mall may be important to some people, the researchers at MIT see more important uses of this technology – from rescue scenarios to situations where hazardous materials has leaked inside a building or facility. The U.S. Air Force and the Office of Naval Research also supported this research, which indicates they may see some non-civilian uses in the future.

Image courtesy Youtube user MITNewsOffice

Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for The Atlantic Cities. He lives in Los Angeles. All posts »

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