Saturday, March 04, 2006

Route planning

One of the major components of the system is its ability to guide the user to specified locations in two environments: outdoors using standard GPS, and indoors in theatres and shops etc. using a localised GPS system.

Clearly some form of route planning will be required as users can't be expected to cope with being told to "Go North" by the pressure actuators on the smart watch, if directly north of the user is a large building. Modern GPS units allow the system to plan a route around obstacles and there seems to be no reason we can't include this functionality into the Brain as it is designed to have the same sort of memory and processor capacity as the PDAs that these GPS systems work well in real-time on. However whilst this works fine for outdoor navigation at street level where this kind of local information is already known, when indoors the user will require much greater accuracy and knowledge of the local environment on the part of the system.

For example in a supermarket, the user may be told that the fruit and veg aisle is slightly to the left of straight-ahead (west-north-west). However due to the layouts of aisles in a supermarket, it's entirely plausible that the user would first have to turn right, reach the end of the aisle, turn left to the next aisle, and turn left again, effectively now walking in the opposite direction to reach the destination.

The system will need to be able to do this on a local level as well as coping with the ever-changing layouts inside a supermarket or theatre, such as item displays, trolley parks, refreshment stalls etc. so that users are not directed to walk straight into them and becoming confused.

Now that I've outlined this need, my next post will describe a possible solution to this problem as well as facilitating a related extra level of functionality.


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