When Google announced its Indoor maps app for Android last November, one of the features that they included was Google Maps Floor Plans, a tool for business owners to upload the floor plans for their building or location and have them appear in Google Maps itself.
Featuring mainly shopping centres and airports, the success of this project required venue owners to upload floor plans and now, Google is asking for help once again, this time from the general public, or more specifically, members of the public who own an Android device.
The Google Maps Floor Plan Market app (quite a mouthful to say out loud) allows those who’ve uploaded floor plans to improve the indoor location accuracy for visitors when they’re using indoor maps in a particular location.
Only available for those living in the U.S. on Google Play, when users upload the app and the Floor Plans tool, they will be guided through a process involving walking around the entire surface area of whatever building they’re in. Through the app, they’ll collect data from sources such as GPS, cell tower, and publicly broadcast WiFi information to help sharpen the accuracy of Google’s Maps GPS locator.
The time it takes to complete this task ultimately depends on how large the venue in question is, but the app allows you to pause and resume a marking task at any point so you could do spread the marking period out over days if you so wish. The obvious result of this is that when new visitors enter a venue, they’ll be able to figure out where they are. More importantly, such visitors ill be able to see which floor they’re on in the building, and the map wil automatically update itself to the right floor if the visitor goes up or down a level.
However, because of the nature of such a project, the only people that will be interested in helping out will be those who already have their building plan featured in Maps. There’s very little incentive for anyone who has no connection to a venue to help out with the scheme so it will mainly fall down to businesses and venue owners to do the work.
Still it could mean that in a few years time, getting lost in a large shopping centre or museum will be impossible so we’ll reserve judgement until then.