A new indoor mapping application has been launched by Google which will help users find their way indoors in public places such as airports, shopping centres and museums.
Businesses are being given the opportunity to submit floor plans to be added to the service to expand the database which currently has 200 maps covering Australia.
The service is only available to Android users who can access up to 10,000 indoor maps covering particular countries around the world in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the U.S, U.K, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Singapore, Spain, Germany and Japan.
An Australian company that makes use of a similar technology, which unlike the Google App doesn't need the infrastructure of wi-fi, is navigation firm Navisens.
Navisens managing director Ashod Donikian told the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) that the technology has the potential to allow the surrounding environment to predict comfort levels before the user has to instigate an operation such as heating a room.
"In the near future, you will never have to open a door or switch a light, the environment will know where you are and where you're going and act accordingly," said Donikian.
"The heating will optimise to where you spend most of your time. Lights will already be on before you get to the dark room. Your fridge door will slide open as walk to the fridge."
Donikian is hoping for his company's technology to be picked up by Google.
Chris Bosse, director at LAVA agrees that this technology could have great potential for improving and automating societal functions.
"There is a global trend to digitally connect virtual and real spaces in the city and eventually create a realtime digital model of the planet. While this sounds a bit futuristic these models could be used for modelling energy demand, traffic flow, logistics etc," said Bosse.
He added that similar technology has already been in use by architects for some time.
"We at LAVA have been using this type of technology in planning buildings for years, and now the built environment catches up. Masdar city centre in the UAE for example includes water features and lighting that are triggered by passersby and mobile phone usage," he said.
Design of the Masdar city centre in the United Arab Emirates. Image courtesy of LAVA.
Davina Jackson, co- editor of D_City Network Review said that the advancements are contributing to a larger movement in a project called Digital Earth.
"Google indoor maps- and other new interior simulations and modelling systems -- are significant advances in the huge international space sciences project called Digital Earth. The vision is to develop a computer 'system of data systems' to more accurately and effectively understand and manage the planet's resources and environmental challenges."
She added that the outcomes of the new technology will have a positive impact on architecture.
"For architects and structural engineers, it's another exciting move beyond static CAD and building information models (BIMs) to dynamic models and maps of time-measured behaviours in buildings," said Jackson.
Similar technology is also being used by the CSIRO to trace athlete's performance while the University of New South Wales is using it to develop way finding technologies for the vision impaired.
The service can also be used to find friends who are within the same building if both parties opt in for their location to be shared.
To find a list of places which have the technology available, click here.
To upload a floor plan, click here.
The advertisement below shows how the technology works, with the example being the monolithic IKEA: