Friday, November 6, 2009

Nokia Ovi Maps will take you inside buildings !

Posted on 07:38 by SlipKoRnSaad

Ovi Developer Beta already allows select developers to embed Ovi Maps into their websites using simple and familiar web technologies. They can take advantage of rich mapping and positioning functionalities, such as 2D/3D maps, add custom content and fly trough. In a podcast from Nokia Developer Summit, Michael Halbherr, Vice President of Social Location at Nokia, talks about how developers can leverage the billions of dollars of development embedded in Ovi Maps and NAVTEQ data.


At the Web 2.0 Summit, Michael unveiled that Nokia Maps will in the near future include the insides of buildings such as shopping malls, airports, hotels and other facilities. This will expose mobile consumers to a whole new range of services that can include the mixed realities and augmented realities of real internal maps, metadata about the sites seen, and realtime interaction from the user.

The idea is simple enough, but turning the idea into reality is not. To begin with, GPS tracking ends when you lose your line of sight to the sky, so the interior mapping of a user’s location must be done through cell ID triangulation, and through WiFi hotspot identification and triangulation. ‘There must be one logic system for location, whether it is through GPS, cell ID, or WiFi,’ asserted Halberr. Right now, those systems are separate, but Nokia is working on the integration. Halberr said that Nokia is also working on including the 3D element to the interior mapping system. In one sense, this is an obvious need, in that the items one finds on the 4th floor of a large department store will be very different from the items for sale on the 5th floor. In a deeper sense, however, this may also include the 3D mapping of objects that one may find on a given floor.

When it comes to collecting the actual images that will form the interior maps, Halbherr says that Nokia has an advantage over Google. ‘We have millions of S60 devices already out there, and each of them is capable of collecting data,’ says Halberr. ‘We switched on the cell learning features, and within weeks we recorded 90 percent of all cell coverage in major countries. As we move to the mapping of interior walking paths, we have the advantage of numbers.’  Halbherr indicated that the buildout of interior mapping will include the installation of inside cellular base stations in shopping malls, airports and other locations by the wireless operators. By triangulating the device's position relative to the GPS satellite outside the building, and to all the cellular and Wi-Fi hotspots inside, Nokia will be able to associate the device with a specific cell (areas 10 meters or less) as it moves around inside the building.


When pressed about the timeframe for the interior mapping project, Halbherr gave himself a leisurely deadline of within the next two years. I suspect that we will see real demonstrations of parts of the interior mapping system long before that as the most popular locations will probably be mapped first.


All of this came from the Q and A session after Halbherr’s talk. During the speech itself, he discussed the state of the Ovi SDK, which is currently in closed beta, and why it is important. The best feature about the Ovi SDK, of course, is that it is built for use with Javascript, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and HTML. The bottom line is that developers with any of those three skillsets will be able to create mobile apps without having to know the deeper technologies like Symbian C++. Even Javascript writing may be abstracted up to a higher level, Halbherr claims. ‘Javascript is to mobile programming as assembly language was to the PC. It will be generated by higher-level tools rather than written directly.’

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