Indoor Navigation

  • Hospital Combines Kiosks With BLE App to Help Patients Navigate

    Cincinnati's The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health to helping its patients and visitors navigate its hospital, medical offices and parking area with a wayfinding app that employs Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons. The technology, provided by Connexient, is helping patients to reach their destinations faster and with less anxiety, says Craig Schmidt, the hospital's VP and chief operations officer. According to Schmidt, the hospital hopes to add other features in the long run, such as push notifications and marketing.

     

    The hospital's Right This Way app is available on smartphones, while three kiosks also provide visitors with location information and assists them if they want to download the app. The system deploys Connexient's MediNav digital wayfinding app.

    Read the full article at RFiD Journal.

  • Indoor Positioning Solutions Guide for the Enterprise

    Indoor Positioning Solutions Guide for the Enterprise

    Today's blog is the first of a series intended to provide Enterprises with: (a) an overview of the major approaches and the best solutions for Indoor Positioning ; and (b) important considerations when evaluating your needs and plan for indoor positioning. Readers interested in a more detailed understanding and discussion may wish to contact us for a consultation and evaluation. 

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    The Inflection Point is Rapidly Approaching for Indoor Positioning

    As a company dedicated to Indoor Navigation and Location-based Services, Connexient keeps a close eye on anything involving indoor positioning.   We made an early and conscious decision not to get involved in the race to perfect solutions in this area - not because it was not important, but rather because there were plenty of companies both large and small with deep expertise and resources already working on the problem.

    The last couple of quarters have seen two developments that represent quantum leaps forward for indoor positioning.

    1. The embrace of BLE by both Apple and Google

    With the release and characteristically effective promotion of its iBeacon standard, Apple made BLE legitimate and highlighted its strengths. After some further assessment, Google followed suit and has also now fully embraced BLE support in Android 4.2 and 4.3 (JellyBean).

    The key impact of this is now highly accurate, handset-based indoor positioning solutions are available across both iOs and Android.  Moreover, Apple iBeacons are seeing rapid adoption and acceptance in retail, which should put to rest any concerns from other Enterprise verticals.

    2. Apple’s Integration of Indoor Positioning into iOs 8.0

    b2ap3_thumbnail_iBeacon-logo.pngApple announced at their WWDC earlier this year that its own Indoor Positioning technology is now built in to iOs 8.0.This uses handset sensor-fusion technology - with no BLE beacons - from a company called WiFiSlam, which Apple purchased in 2013. We tested WiFiSlam back then and and found it to be quite solid, so it will be very interesting to see how it performs!   While we still believe beacons are part of the reliable solution, the widespread availability of at least baseline indoor positioning in iOs 8 will in our view greatly accelerate user interest in and demand for indoor positioning and location-based services.

    3. Cisco's roadmap for Mobility Services Engine (MSE)

    b2ap3_thumbnail_cisco-logo-med.pngOver the last year, we have been privileged to work closely with Cisco in several different pilots and gain an understanding of their current capabilities as well as their roadmap for the Indoor Positioning performance of Cisco MSE, which is part of the Cisco CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences) platform. Without disclosing any details, which are confidential, what we can tell you is that starting with the just released MSE version 8.0, Cisco is rolling out a credible, comprehensive path over the next 12 - 18 months that will deliver highly accurate and low latency (i.e. high refresh rates) indoor positioning. This will be a true Enterprise solution for not only Indoor Navigation, but the entire range of Indoor location-based services that will drive value and ROI.

    We believe that these three waves of innovation will mark the inflection point in the market for the widespread adoption of Enterprise Indoor Location-based Services.

    Needless to say, we find that to be quite exciting!

    Overview of Indoor Positioning Technologies

    There are four basic approaches to solving the problem of indoor positioning that have been improving and evolving rapidly - and now starting to converge - over the last several years.

    1. WiFi Fingerprinting

    A software only, device-based approach that reads the digital signatures of the WiFi network.

    • Pros: Device-based software only, low cost, easy to calibrate.

    • Cons: Simply not accurate or reliable enough.

    2. Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons / iBeacons

    Simple, low-cost transmitters (“beacons”) that can be placed around a venue. Application software on the device and then be programmed to read these signals to drive a wide range of user interactions and engagement.

    • Pros: Low-cost and maintenance, standard embraced by Apple and now Google.

    • Cons: Beacon infrastructure to maintain, not suitable on their own for wayfinding or navigation.

    3. Handset Sensor Fusion

    This involves accessing data from multiple sensors on the phone such as the compass, gyroscope - in addition to WiFi fingerprinting and/or BLE Beacons - and applying sophisticated algorithms and techniques to "fuse" these together into an optimal estimate of the device's position.

    • Pros:  Device-based software only, low cost, easy to calibrate.

    • Cons:Good for some use cases but not reliable enough on its own for indoor navigation.

    4. Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE). A network-based approach that leverages an array of techniques to position all devices connecting or visible to the network, not just smartphones.

    • Pros: A true Enterprise solution, addressing infrastructure security and management..

    • Cons: Accuracy and refresh rates currently suitable only for some use cases.

    Up until recently, these were each separate technologies and strategies for Indoor Positioning. Now they are starting to converge - or at least be used in combination when needed.

    Which Solution is Best for Indoor LBS?

    Well, that depends!   The answer depends on your organizations needs and objectives for Indoor Location-based Services. Connexient develops applications and use cases for Digital Wayfinding and Indoor Navigation that require strong indoor positioning performance, so we will focus there.   Why?  Because these are where the most value for the end user and the highest ROI for the Enterprise can be found.

    Let’s start with defining the three levels of indoor positioning quality that are relevant to our solutions. 

    1. Location-Enhanced Wayfinding.We define this as a solution that can answer the basic question: Where am I? It must do this accurately and quickly enough to be actionable - i.e. a user actively navigating a venue can make useful decisions.

    2. Location-Enhanced Routing.   Here the indoor positioning accuracy and refresh rates are sufficient to be dynamically integrated into route visualization and we can start to actively guide the prompt user actions based on their position and let them know when they are off track.  

    3. Indoor Navigation.  Indoor Navigation is, of course, our Holy Grail.  This requires an very high level of accuracy and refresh for indoor location to support 3 key capabilities:  

      • driving the route visualization - i.e. the camera view of the route;

      • anticipating and prompting for upcoming turns; and

      • providing audio prompts and/or voice direction of navigation.

    Our Take on Indoor Positioning Technologies

    Over the last several years, we’ve been fortunate to have tested all of these various solutions in one way or another, including now in several pilots integrating them with our application. At the end of the day, there are in our view two viable solutions today, with a hybrid, step-by-step approach being the best for Enterprise clients.

    Here’s the what and why.

    1. Handset-based Sensor Fusion + BLE Beacons

    While iBeacons are fine for proximity-based interactions and engagement - whose use cases tend to fit better in retail environments - they are not suitable on their own for wayfinding or navigation. For that, the additional capability of handset sensor fusion is critical to providing continuous accurate and reliable positioning.  The good news is this combined approach, in our testing, is yielding outstanding positioning performance.

    Recommended Solutions

    Pros

    • High accuracy & refresh rates: 1 - 2 Meters, sub-second refresh frequency
    • Flexible:  Can work with WiFi Fingerprinting alone for Android and without any outside inputs where there are gaps in either WiFi or BLE Beacon coverage.
    • Relatively Low Cost:
      • About $50 - $70 per beacon.
      • Annual license fees in addition to Beacon deployment.
    • Easy to install:  Beacons are about the size of a matchbox
    • Easy to Calibrate:  Literally a few hours to a few days depending on the size of the facility.
    • Easy to maintain:  Between 2 - 5 year battery life.Easy to integrate:  both Senion and Polestar have excellent SDKs

    Cons

    • Really must have BLE Beacons to maintain consistent accuracy.
    • In effect a new wireless network to manage
    • Short range - about 20 to 40 meters maximum
    • Low energy:  will not penetrate walls, metal, etc.

     

    The Bottom Line  

    BLE Beacons combined with Handset-based Sensor Fusion is the most accurate, reliable and robust technology solution for Indoor Navigation quality indoor positioning available today - so long as you only need to position smartphones and tablets.

    2.  Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE)

    Cisco MSE, which is part of the Cisco CMX platform,  brings an entirely different, network-based approach to indoor positioning.   This is not surprising, of course, since Cisco powers that network.  While the current performance of MSE is not comparable to Sensor Fusion + BLE, there are important advantages to this approach for Enterprise clients, which we will discuss further below.  

     Even more importantly:

    1. the latest MSE 8.0 release - with FastLocate module add-on for 3600 and 3700 APs - is now sufficient for Location-Enhanced Wayfinding;

    2. Cisco is rapidly improving the indoor positioning performance of MSE over the next 12 to 18 months to get to true Indoor Navigation capability; and

    3. Enterprise clients can supplement Cisco MSE today with Handset Sensor Fusion + BLE to get Indoor Navigation quality wayfinding today.

     Here are the key data points.

    Baseline Requirements  

    • MSE v. 8.0
    • 3600 or 3700 Series APs
    • Associated requirements for PI (Prime Infrastucture) version

    Pros

    • Enterprise Solution:  Cisco has and continues to think through and address all the broader Enterprise IT issues of wireless network management, including:
      • Device / Tag management
      • Minimizing or eliminating Interference
      • Security
      • Unified Management
    • Improving Rapidly:  Cisco has laid out a credible and compelling roadmap to rapidly improve indoor positioning - which will include BLE - to accuracy and refresh rates suitable for Indoor Navigation and all other Indoor LBS use cases.
    • Trusted partner:  Organizations can rely on Cisco to deliver Enterprise-grade solutions that address infrastructure management and security.

    Cons

    • Accuracy:  5 - 7 meters - not suitable for indoor navigation, but very useful for Location-Enhanced Wayfinding.
    • Latency:  Starting with MSE 8.0, notifications and refresh rates can be reduced to approximately 10 seconds.
    • Deployment:  Requires high AP density and accuracy is highly dependent on the right density, location, calibration and other factors.
    • Cost:  More expensive than BLE solution - but depends on what AP's and coverage are already in place.

    The Bottom Line

    • Starting with MSE v. 8.0, Cisco CMX is a real option for Enterprise’s seeking to deploy Indoor Positioning solutions for Location-Enhanced Wayfinding.
    • Enterprises that want navigation-quality indoor positioning today should supplement their current Cisco WiFi and MSE infrastructure with Handset-based Sensor Fusion plus BLE Beacons.   
    • Enterprises alternatively can:
      • lay the foundation and address user needs now with stand-alone Indoor Mapping and Digital Wayfinding; and
      • plan their Indoor LBS infrastructure around the Cisco MSE roadmap - starting with MSE 8.0 and 3600 or 3700 Series APs.

    More Information

    Readers that are interested in more information on how BLE Beacons can complement Cisco MSE may be interested to review this blog and other resources on Cisco.com.

    How to Get Started

    So the great news is that any Enterprise which wants to provide anything from Location-Enhanced Wayfinding to true Indoor Navigation can do so right now!   Absolutely, there are considerations and decisions to weigh, and deployments should be carefully planned.  But there are no barriers to starting to leverage Indoor Positioning right now to: 

    1. provide a great Patient Experience;

    2. improve operational efficiency; and

    3. reduce lost revenues.

     For an evaluation and consultation on the best Indoor Positioning solution options for your Enterprise, please contact us.

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    Contact Connexient for a Free Consultation on Indoor Positioning Solutions

  • Memorial Hermann launches "Find My Way" App

    Connexient's latest client to go-live with MediNav is Memorial Hermann Health System!   Memorial Hermann Find My Way officially launched this week.   You can learn more and get app download links here:

    This fun marketing video posted on their Facebook page shows how easy and useful the app is - brought to life by the Houston Rockets mascot "Clutch":

    David Bradshaw, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Memorial Hermann said:  “At Memorial Hermann, we recognize that navigating health care can be frustrating. We’ve made it our mission to put the patient first, and that means removing barriers by directly addressing some of the most common complaints – particularly difficulties with wayfinding and parking.”

    Modern Healthcare recently reported on a wave of wayfinding strategies being tested nationwide, as health systems search for solutions to improve the patient experience. “We are excited to be the first health system in Houston to announce this innovative beacon technology, which is just the beginning of a more seamless healthcare experience for our patients and members,” said Bradshaw.

    MHHS Navigation with Off-Route Notification

    Memorial Hermann Find My Way provides patients and visitors guides a patient or visitor from their starting location to their final destination by providing turn-by-turn navigation to: hospital departments; physician offices; points of interest such as ATMs, dining facilities, pharmacies and more. This includes off-route notification and recalculation keeps users on course if they miss a turn.

    MHHS Parking Planner prompt

    Advanced features, such as a parking planner, marks the exact parking location and navigates the user back to his or her car when finished with an appointment or visit.

  • Mercy Health Jewish Hospital Launches "Right This Way"

    Mercy Health’s Jewish Hospital and Connexient officially announced today the launch of MediNav, branded  as “Right This Way.”   Encompassing Web, Kiosk and mobile turn-by-turn navigation, Right This Way provides a compele solution for digital wayfinding to enhance Patient Experience and assist staff and vendors in their daily wayfinding needs.   We are very proud to have Mercy Health as our latest launched partner, and the first in the mid-west!

    “Right This Way makes it easy for patients and visitors to find their way around the hospital. It offers detail-rich indoor maps, turn-by-turn indoor navigation, parking help and more on cell phones, kiosks and on Mercy Health’s website,” said Pat Davis-Hagens, Mercy Health Central Market President and CEO. “We’re always looking to improve the experience of both our patients and visitors and we launched the app to guide you to the department or room you want to visit, remember where you parked and help reduce missed or late appointments.”

    The Cincinnati Business Courier wrote up a great article about Right This Way with multiple quotes from Craig Schmidt, the Chief Operating Officer of Jewish Hospital.     A few excerpts below and follow the link to read the full article.

    Jewish Hospital's Right This Way mapping system provides step-by-step directions to almost any spot in the facility via a smartphone app.

    The free app is available at the Apple App Store and through Google Play. The mapping system can also be used on a tablet or personal computer via mercy.com/WayToJewish.

  • NIHCC Take Me There 1 Year Anniversary

    The NIH Clinical Center and Connexient celebrated a major milestone this month:  the one year anniversary of the public launch of NIHCC Take Me There!

    This article talks about how MediNav helps thousands of visitors, patients - and staff - get around the 4.3M SF facility, with 20,000 rooms, 13 miles of corridors, 15 outpatient clinics and 93 day hospital stations - as well as the the 340 acre campus.   It also speaks to some of the other advanced use cases in Operations and Safety and Security that are already being addressed - and are opportunities for integrations that Connexient is now working together with the NIH Clinical Center and application partners to implement.

    "Our goal is to get the patient where they want to be when they want to be there," said Eric Cole, chief of the CC Administrative Management Department and lead on the implementation of the app. "In doing so we saw an opportunity to make the hospital safer. With NIHCC TakeMeThere, emergency personnel and first responders can now easily find any room in the facility no matter where it is or if they've ever been there."

     

     

    Go to NIH Web Site to read the full article

  • Our Launch With the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center:  The Next Step for Medinav

    Last week saw the launch of MediNav at the National Institutes of Health as NIHCC Take Me There.  This was, of course, an exciting milestone for Connexient in many ways, and there were many things that were unique and significant in our product evolution. But these are the ones that stand out.

     

    Scale and Complexity

    Size really does matter! The NIH Clinical Center has some three and a half million square feet under one roof, in which we mapped over 6,000 rooms and deployed over 950 beacons. We learned a lot and developed many new tools and techniques to deliver reliable, robust facility wide navigation at this scale.

    And that is a good thing since we now have multiple deployments in process that are even larger!

    Introducing the MediNav Web Version

    The NIH also represents our first launch of the new MediNav Web Version. This is an incredibly important part of the overall solution, enabling users to pre-plan a visit before they leave. It also helps to drive awareness and adoption of the mobile app with our Send to Phone and Print features.

    We will have a lot more to say and show about the Web version in next week’s blog.

    Multi-modal Campus Navigation

    The NIH spans 322 acres and has over 70 buildings. For visitors to the NIH Clinical Center, getting into and across this campus is a very big wayfinding challenge in itself. Connexient built custom map layers with our Google Maps for Work partnership to support intelligent routing for patients and visitors to the right gate and then on to the correct parking lot.

    We also added a Shuttle Van Tracker that lets users see exactly where their shuttle van is and when it is arriving to the closest stop.

    And next month we will add even more:

    • Campus Entry Wizard. This will guide users by their type – staff, vendors, patients & visitors to the right gate and parking.  We will even address time-based restrictions, such as knowing when a gate is closed.
    • Pedestrian Navigation. Now users will also be able to get walking routes and navigation to any building on the campus.


    Our Most Sophisticated Navigator Yet

    We were also able to develop and refine important new features that push us forward in delivering true turn-by-turn navigation.

    • Off-route notification and recalculation. When you miss a turn, we let you know! And then get you back on track.
    • Voice and Audio Prompts. This is amazingly useful for navigation, letting you focus more on what is ahead and less on the screen.
    • Enhanced Outdoor – Indoor Transitions. Our new outdoor BLE beacons enable us to provide a instant and seamless transition when entering and exiting the building.

    And we are still learning and evolving. Stay tuned as we release new features later this summer!


    Operational Use Cases

    For the 40,000 plus people that work at the NIH, navigating the campus and Clinical Center is not an abstract problem. It brings challenges on a daily basis that have a direct impact on productivity. That’s why all 40,000 staff members are in the NIHCC Take Me There application, and all 6,000 rooms are navigation-enabled.

    But we also added a new feature for Facility Management that we think will be a hit with all of our clients: a location-smart issue reporter. In a building the size of the NIH Clinical Center, there is a lot of maintenance required. But knowing where there are issues and then directing housekeeping or maintenance staff to get there can be daunting.

    With MediNav, the NIHCC can now crowd-source issue reporting. Any staff member can quickly submit an issue ticket with a couple of taps , attach a photo and comments, and have that sent to the housekeeping and maintenance staff with an exact map of its location.

    The Road Ahead

    These first operational use cases are a great example of something we have always believed and now are seeing come to reality not just at the NIH but across all of our clients: Patient Experience is just the starting point. Once rich indoor maps, navigation and location-based services are deployed in a large, complex facility, they will, over time, be applied to address many other use cases that drive compelling value and ROI. Connexient is dedicated to delivering that value to its clients, and is moving down the path together with them to realize this vision.

    We’ll have more to say on that in blogs to come!

  • Our New Partnership with Stanley Healthcare: A Giant Leap Forward to Deliver Enterprise ROI

    When you are building a new company - and a new "space" like Indoor Navigation and Location-based Services - there are some milestones that really matter. This week, we were proud to announce one of those: our new partnership with Stanley Healthcare.

    Read the Press Release on StanleyHealthcare.com

    Sales Collaboration is the Starting Point

    Of course for a young company like Connexient, the opportunity to work with a partner who can bring our solution to over 5,000 hospitals and 12,000 long-term care organizations is tremendously exciting and a great honor. It will enable us to reach more clients that we can help to enhance patient experience, capture lost revenues and increase efficiency. That is a good thing!

    Come See Connexient and Stanley at HiMSS 2015We will kick-off our collaboration at HiMSS 2015 - the annual gathering of over 30,000 innovators and leaders in Healthcare - in Chicago on April 12th. Please come see us there!

     

    But Product Integration to Deliver Enterprise ROI Is Just As Important

    Equally exciting to us, however, is the shared vision between our companies of how integrating Indoor Navigation - and Navigation-quality mapping and positioning - together with other location-based solutions solutions can deliver compelling value for users and increase Enterprise ROI for our clients.

    Gabi Daniely, Vice President of Solutions, Products and Marketing at STANLEY Healthcare summed this up nicely:

    “Smartphones and other mobile technologies that are BLE enabled are transforming how patients access hospital information and interact with healthcare providers. Connexient’s MediNav solution is the perfect complement to our existing Wi-Fi based solutions for Patient Flow, Asset Management, Environmental Monitoring, Hand Hygiene Compliance Monitoring and Patient and Staff Security. Our partnership with Connexient will help our clients further improve staff communication, automate processes, accelerate responsiveness, increase security and streamline workflow across the entire continuum of care.”

    The importance of integration has been a core focus for Connexient from the very beginning. We tell our clients that while Indoor Navigation may be the first "killer app" of Indoor Positioning and Location Services, Connexient's core mission is to location-enable Enterprise IT. So we are eager to get to work!

    The Low Hanging Fruit

    The opportunities to deliver ROI through Enterprise integration seem endless - the deeper you dig the more benefits appear. In discussion with clients and partners like Stanley over the last year, however, we have identified three areas that have present a combination of relatively simple implementation, immediate benefits and measurable ROI.

    EHR Integration for Appointment Reminders and the "Airline Check-in" Model

    We first started talking to clients and blogging about this last year. With just a few very simple integration points to EHR solutions, we can collaborate with our clients and partners to deliver a use case we call the "Airline Check-in Model".

    The "Airline Checkin Model" Use Case

    These screenshots show functionality that MediNav supports out-of-the box to support the integration with EHR systems to dramatically enhance and improve the patient experience.

    Appointment Reminder

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    Patient receives an appointment reminder 24 hours prior and can confirm he/she is coming, as well as set reminder for a desired time when he/she should leave for the appointment. Patient can also view end-to-end route - outdoors and indoors - in advance at this point to pre-plan their trip.

    Parking Planner

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    Using the Parking Planner feature, Patient is given recommended parking location based on their appointment destination inside the building. Then receives turn-by-turn navigation to the correct garage entrance with Google Maps.

    e-Checkin

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    Upon arrival at the parking garage, Patient’s physical presence is confirmed with BLE Beacon or Cisco MSE and Welcome Screen automatically triggered that enables he/she to save car location, notify caregivers of arrival, and receive turn-by-turn indoor navigation to appointment room.

     

    The result is a win-win-win:

    1. reduced stress for the patient in getting to appointments;
    2. reduced no shows and late appointments for the Healthcare Provider; and something totally new
    3. real-time visibility into incoming flow of appointments so that the Healthcare Provider can manage its "dynamic inventory" more effectively.

    This last one best illustrates the power of integration. There are various ways to work to address the first two goals that - while less efficient for the organization and convenient for the patient - can be effective.

    b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_02042015_174148.pngBut this type of integration opens up an entirely new set of possibilities for the organization that will directly increase the effective use of a hospitals most valuable resources - its caregivers - while simultaneously reducing the wait times - and uncertainty about them - that patients have come to dread.

    When you combine and integrate this with a solution like Stanley Healthcare's MobileView, now the Enterprise is getting an end-to-end visibility across the entire continuum of care. That's powerful.

    RLTS Integration for the MediNav Staff Version

    Since we first started deploying MediNav, our clients have told us how it has become instantly popular with Hospital staff. Besides the plain fact that caregivers get lost as well - especially newly arriving staff - it has often become used as a convenient communication option and directory resource that is already sitting in everyone's pocket.

    This has lead to our planning and development of the MediNav Staff Version,slated for release in Q4 of this year. This will first and foremost provide a full staff directory and complete map of the facility that is only accessible to authorized personnel. That in itself will be tremendously useful.

    b2ap3_thumbnail_Stanley-Staff-Workflow.jpgAs we go forward with partners like Stanley, however, even more compelling opportunities arise. Why not, for example, integrate RLTS-based asset tracking like Stanley Healthcare Nursing & Staff Workflow Solutions? Why not indeed! Stanley knows where the equipment is located, we can tell the caregiver which is the closest and how to get there. And that's just one example of course.

    Or with staff workflow tracking, now a nurse that needs to confer with a doctor can immediately see exactly where he is in the building and even if he is moving receive turn-by-turn navigation to meet up with him.

    We Want to Hear from You

    Neither of these types of use cases outlined above are fundamentally new. They are ones almost every person is familiar with in some other part of their life with applications like Foursquare (or Facebook check-in), Uber and otherwise. The point is that by moving down the path with some very simple integrations, we can translate these into Enterprise use cases that are both comfortable for the user and bring real value to the organization.

    It is our clients that can best tell us where to focus, of course. You know what capabilities and use cases would have true immediate and positive impact for you - and your patients. So we want to hear from you and start these conversations!

    CONTACT US

  • Our Partnership with Google Maps for Work: Filling the Gaps to Deliver End-to-End Navigation

    Last week, we were proud to announce the launch of NIH Clinical Center Take Me There which was a major milestone in many ways.

    Foremost in our minds are some of the new capabilities and features we have implemented in our partnership with Google Maps for Work, for which we are proud to announce today that we have become an official partner.

    While we have been working with Google from almost the beginning, our new status will enable us to further enhance our integration as well as get the word out to our clients and prospects of how Connexient + Google Maps together can:

    1. enhance the Patient and Visitor experience;
    2. reduce late and missed appointments;
    3. improve operational efficiency.

    Our Commitment to Network-wide, Outdoor + Indoor Wayfinding

    Our collaboration with Google started from the very beginning of our planning and design for MediNav. Thanks to the 20 year background of our founders in wayfinding for Hospitals and Healthcare Networks, we knew that the challenges for patients and visitors usually start long before - and often continue after - they have arrived at the hospital.

    Here are 3 typical challenges that almost all visitors face.

    1. Parking. Which garage or lot is closest to my actual appointment location, and how do I get there? And where did I leave my car when I parked hours ago?!
    2. Campus Navigation. Here Google often does not have the access to map or update critical details, such as the names of buildings, their location entrances - and respective parking, and so on.
    3. Network Locations. How do I get to the clinic, laboratory, medical office building or other location of an affiliated caregiver in the Healthcare network? 

    Leveraging Google Maps Outdoors


    Google Maps for Work enables us to solve the outdoor component of these challenges with Google’s unparalleled map data, engine and APIs to solve real world challenges of digital wayfinding and navigation for our clients and users.

    • Local data. The MediNav application has full access to Google’s worldwide database of over 100 million business listings and points of interest with the Google Places APIs.
    • Give users the best route. The Directions API enables us to help users get from any location in the world to the our clients facilities - as well as to stores, hotels or other destinations and other local points of interest around it.
    • Location visualization. With Google Maps for Work, MediNav users can see where they're going before they even get there with visually accurate Street View imagery.

    And thanks to the new Google Navigation Deep Linking capabilities, this is not just restricted to Maps, Routes and Directions. We can send a user directly from the MediNav app to the Google Navigation app with the exact location loaded, knowing Google will get them there flawlessly.

    Once they arrive, they then can re-open MediNav to start their indoor navigation - and coming soon we will automatically re-open it for them!

    Filling the Crucial Gaps Between the Outdoor and Indoor Worlds

    As amazing as Google is at mapping the entire outdoor world, it does not and cannot know your organization and facilities. The result of this is a wayfinding challenge we have all experienced at one point or another: being navigated by Google to a general address for a large facility - which more often than not can be very far away from where you actually need to go.

    With our Google Maps for Work partnership, Connexient is able to add and maintain custom layers of map data for our clients that incorporate our knowledge and mapping of their campuses and facilities. This means that together with Google, we can deliver end-to-end, outdoor + indoor digital wayfinding and navigation, solving complex wayfinding challenges. Here are just a few examples.

    1. Adding custom labels, markers, routes and more - the crucial details Google does not know.
    2. Navigating users to the best parking garage or lot based on indoor appointment location.
    3. Providing multi-modal campus navigation in Google, including routing through different gates / entry points by visitor types.
    4. Deep linking to Google Navigation for the outdoor stage of the user's journey.


    Parking Planner and My Car Saver: Making Something Complicated Simple

    Almost every person arriving at a major hospital or medical center struggles with parking. Figuring out which garage is closest to your actual appointment destination indoors can be extremely difficult - and picking the wrong garage means a very long, stressful and confusing journey to start your patient experience that day.

    And then when it comes time to get back to your car after your appointment, remembering where you parked and understanding how to get there from inside the building can be even more daunting.

    Based on our 20 years of experience in Hospital wayfinding, we knew these are not secondary issues. They are some of the most frequent complaints that come up in patient surveys. That’s why we developed the MediNav Parking Planner and My Car Saver.

    And it is a great example of how Google Maps and Connexient work together to provide an end-to-end, outdoor + indoor solution. Here’s a little tour to show you how.


    Step 1: Recommending Your Parking Location. Thanks to our Indoor Map, we know exactly where you are going and which is the closest parking location. Users of course can also select from other available parking options.

    Step 2: Getting You To Your Parking Location. Now you need to get there. Whereas Google would be unlikely to have the garage street address, MediNav can provide the exact directions - and even a deep link in Google to navigate you to the exact entrance.


    Step 3: Getting You Through the Correct Campus Entrance. In very large facilities and campuses, Google also will not usually know what is the best entrance for your destination. MediNav handles and optimizes that - can can deal with special situations such as restrictions based on time of day or different entrances for different visitors.

    Step 4: Reminding You to Save Your Car.When you arrive at the parking garage - if equipped with BLE Beacons - MediNav app will detect this and serve a welcome screen to remind you to save your parking spot. We can do this automatically based on your location, or let you select.

    Step 5: Navigating You On To Your Indoor Destination. Now that your car’s parking location is saved, MediNav will automatically switch to the indoor map and continue your turn-by-turn navigation on to your final destination inside the building.

    Step 6: Getting You Back to Your Car. Hours later, all the user had to do is tap on Take Me to My Car and no matter where they now are in the building they will be navigated right back their parking spot. From there, of course, they can also include their next outdoor destination - whether that be in the Healthcare network or home - and we will send them on their way in Google Navigation once again.

    Through the integrated functionality and the custom data layers that we are able to create and maintain in Google Maps, MediNav is able to make a very complex wayfinding challenge simple for the user. He or she can just follow the blue dot and turn-by-turn directions end-to-end, both outdoors and indoors, with key location-based assists and prompts all along their way.

    Actually making it work reliably and accurately is no less complex - and is only possible with the added functionality and control that we are given as a Google Maps for Work partner.

    Part 2: Making Campus Navigation Work and Solving the Network Location Puzzle


    The second part of this blog will address the next two common challenges of Wayfinding and Navigation that afflict almost all patients and visitors - and how we have integrated Google Maps to solve them. Please stay tuned!

  • The Complementarity of Indoor Navigation and RTLS

    Part 1: The Path to Infrastructure Convergence

    At Connexient, we often talk to our clients about how Patient Experience is just the first “killer application” of indoor navigation and navigation-based services in large, complex facilities. Indeed, our vision for MediNav is about Navigation-enabling the Enterprise: where these services can bring compelling value to users and increasing ROI to the organization as they are integrated to address high value use cases across operations, safety & security, facility management and more.

    It has been exciting and gratifying to see that this vision is shared with many of our clients. Over the last several quarters, as we have moved forward in our strategic planning with several of them, some recurring questions frequently comes up, such as::

    1. How do RTLS and Indoor Navigation fit together today and in our future roadmap?
    2. Will these infrastructures - and particularly the BLE Beacons - work together?

    The good news is that these are indeed very complimentary solutions today, and in the future will only become more so. The key to achieving this is a spirit of collaboration and focus on integration.

    Today Positioning for Indoor Navigation and RTLS Are Complimentary Deployments

    b2ap3_thumbnail_RTLS-icon.jpgFirst and foremost, when it comes to "Location Services", it is important to understand that we are agnostic to the indoor positioning / location services solution - so long as it is navigation quality. We have always expected over time that this will become part of the infrastructure of every large facility, and our experience in the market thus far has reinforced that conviction.

    But that time frame is likely to be quite long - a decade or more - and there will often be a need for us to supplement or compliment with our capabilities. There are several reasons for this.

    First, BLE Beacons and other potential position data sources will often typically be deployed for the particular purpose of asset tracking, not navigation. A system that is deployed for RTLS - today at least - is almost always incomplete and inadequate to the needs of navigation. We then need to supplement with our own to fill those gaps.  When there are RTLS or positioning infrastructure partners that do provide the comprehensive coverage, density and configuration of BLE beacons required, Connexient can and will leverage this to support indoor navigation.

    Second, today - and for the foreseeable future in our view - only handset sensor fusion software on the phone can deliver dynamic, navigation quality positioning. So even in the cases where the RTLS or positioning infrastructure partner provides the beacon coverage and density that is needed, we will still need to bring handset sensor fusion - and all of our knowledge and experience of how to fine tune this - to deliver reliable, robust navigation at scale in large, complex facilities.

    Third, the new emerging use cases for BLE - such as tags for asset tracking - rely on a different approach and configuration of infrastructure.  Whether it be Cisco Hyperlocation or other solutions, these involve bluetooth radios and WiFi receivers and transmitters as part of a system to both locate BLE tags and provide their location back to a cloud server. The good news is that handset sensor fusion can take advantage of these transmitters as additional data inputs.

    So, Connexient’s approach of using smartphone based handset sensor fusion software complements existing RTLS infrastructure, while being well aligned with the growing importance of BLE beacons in this mix.

    Over Time, Indoor Positioning Infrastructure Will Converge

    After this transitional period of complementary deployments, Connexient expects that some day most or every major facility will have some existing unified infrastructure for indoor positioning, which is likely to be a mix of network-based and BLE-based approaches. The inexorable logic is there should only be one solution long term.

    In most cases, we believe that the complementary expertise and capabilities of handset sensor fusion software will still be required in order to meet the stringent requirements for dynamic, accurate, reliable and robust indoor positioning to support a navigation user experience. That may in some cases come with infrastructure solution at a particular client, but in other cases the infrastructure will provide the hardware component and leave the rest up to the solution provider.  

    Connexient, as always, will be ready and able to configure and adapt to optimize our deployment for each client to leverage their infrastructure and ensure that navigation quality maps and navigation-based services can be integrated across Enterprise IT where it can deliver compelling value to users and ROI to the organization.

    But the Challenge of Navigation Will Be Unchanged

    When that day comes, Connexient’s mission will remain unchanged: to deliver robust, reliable indoor navigation and navigation-based services. Just as we do with GPS for the outdoors, we will now leverage an existing positioning solution indoors. What is important to us is how indoor positioning is used to deliver value to end users and the organization.

    In the same vein, however, we also see an inexorable logic to every Enterprise standardizing on one solution for navigation-quality mapping, navigation and navigation-based services. To understand why, it is important to understand that Indoor positioning is just one component of what is needed to successfully deliver indoor navigation.

    In our next installment, we will discuss how navigation and navigation quality mapping are fundamentally different than and complementary to indoor positioning and location tracking.

    Read part 2: The Complementarity of Indoor Navigation and RTLS, Part 2: Indoor Navigation is Hard

  • The Complementarity of Indoor Navigation and RTLS, Part 2: Indoor Navigation is Hard

    In Part 1 of this blog, we talked about how indoor positioning infrastructure and solutions will converge over time. Today, we will talk about how navigation and navigation quality mapping are fundamentally different than and complementary to indoor positioning and location tracking.

    The quick summary is that navigation quality mapping and navigation itself is hard, and requires a complex mastery and synchronization of many different technologies, skills and processes.

    These are the things that we wrestle with every day:

    1. Navigation-quality maps. This it the most overlooked requirement. Our mantra is The Map Really Matters - because it does. Apple found that out the hard way. There are an entire set of processes, technology enabled services and tools that are required to implement and then maintain navigation quality maps at the required level of accuracy, reliability and currency.

    2. Location-related Data. The map and navigation could be perfect, but, if it takes you down a half mile of hallways to a doctor (or department, or whatever) that is no longer there, it is worse than useless. This data is scattered around the Enterprise in general today, and coalescing and then maintaining it is a critical task.

    3. Navigation UX. Again often overlooked but critical. There is a synchronized, complex dance of all the above - along with the user interface itself - that all must come together for a navigation user experience to be intuitive and useful. If it is not, it will fail. There is only one standard the user will measure us against: Google (or Apple). So a fanatical focus on that is one of our key drivers.

    4. QA. Each and every one of these components - and the system as a whole - must have QA embedded throughout in monitoring, tools and processes. With navigation, the user expectation of reliability is extremely high - and as we move toward the high value use cases in safety & security, the bar gets even higher.

    So, we believe that indoor navigation and navigation-based services requires laser focus and constant effort to be successful.

    Navigation-Enabling the Enterprise: the Connexient SDK

    When it comes to integrating navigation and navigation-based services into other Enterprise applications - whether a Patient Engagement application, RTLS application or otherwise - there is a different but equally large set of tasks and requirements that the application developer and integrator must address.

    That’s why the Connexient Mobile Application SDK has been so well received. It eliminates all of the complex issues and effort required to deliver indoor navigation from the task list of a developer or integrator and replaces this with a few simple calls to add maps, navigation and navigation-based services wherever they are needed in the application.

    All Screens, Multi-modal Support

    It is also important to remember all of the other uses and needs for navigation-quality maps without “blue dot” navigation. That’s why Connexient has always provided All Screens Support. Whether patient, visitor, staff, security or otherwise, there is a universal need for high quality maps, routing and visualization that can be accessed on any screen at any time.

    That's what we at Connexient do, and can justify that effort and cost because navigation services and navigation quality maps are then consumed in many different ways across the Enterprise. We have plenty to chew on in solving that problem!

    We definitely do not have any plans in our roadmap to be an asset tracking solution. What we are focused on what our clients need: integration and collaboration.

    Indoor Navigation + RTLS: The Low Hanging Fruit

    Based on our discussions over the last year with clients and partner alike, these are the client-driven use cases that stand out when we look at how Indoor Navigation and RTLS can be integrated.

    1. The ability to show the location of assets on navigation quality maps within our app, and navigate that user to them.
    2. The ability for an RTLS system to call our maps via an API and get directions or maps back to their own application (i.e. without blue dot).

    Over the longer term, as Enterprises standardize on their location services and navigation mapping and services solutions, in many cases the RTLS mobile or other applications might also use our indoor maps and navigation with our mobile application SDK and Web APIs.

    The Bottom Line

    The bottom line is that these technologies and solutions are complimentary today, and will become more so over time.

    At Connexient, we will stay focused Navigation-enabling the Enterprise:

    1. Delivering and maintaining Enterprise grade navigation quality maps, navigation and navigation-based services; and

    2. Making those easy to consume in any way that benefits the Enterprise and the end users.

    This will fit together in different ways with different RTLS vendors depending on their own strategies, but we definitely see these to be two complementary disciplines and solutions that can and should be integrated to maximize the benefits and value of each.

  • The Uber-ization of the Enterprise

    Uber Can Seem Like Magic

    If you are the Digital Native type, it's hard to imagine the world now without Uber. If you try hard, you can think back to those days - a couple of years ago! - when we all actually would have to call for a taxi. If you were lucky enough to get a person called a 'dispatcher', there was usually a long and uncertain wait ahead.

    UBER app

    Or think of all that wasted energy spent in any major urban city when the rain starts falling, waving hopelessly at cabs that are all full.

    Uber changed all of that - instantly it seemed, almost like someone had waved a magic wand. You open an app, request a car and within seconds you receive a confirmation and estimated time or arrival that is usually just a few minutes later. You calmly finish sipping your coffee and stroll outside to meet your private driver. All that for a substantial discount off the same ride in a taxi.

    But There's No Magic: Just Navigation Quality Positioning and Maps - and Smartphones

    But Uber is not magic. It is just a tremendously compelling example of the transformational power of combining:

    1. navigation quality positioning;
    2. navigation quality maps; and
    3. ubiquitous smartphones.

    Once those three foundations are in place, the rest is all software. Add a few crucial pieces of business logic and filtering and suddenly, thousands of independent actors - drivers on one side and people looking for a ride on the other - are able to self-organize a hyper-efficient operation for ride sharing.

    None of this is meant to diminish Uber's achievement in the quality of its user experience, technical execution, incredibly rapid scaling and operational expertise. It's simply to point out that from the standpoint of software, there is nothing particularly unique or difficult about it.

    Navigation Quality Positioning and Maps Will Create Similar Opportunities for Efficiency Gains Indoors

    To us this seems blindingly obvious. Sure, the first "killer application" of high quality indoor positioning and maps is navigation, and that is where we have focused our energies as we entered the market.

    RWJUH app

    But that truly is just the tip of the iceberg. Navigation itself is really just an enabling User Experience. We always start our product meetings by reminding ourselves that no patient or visitor to a hospital comes to have "an Indoor Navigation experience." They come to get to their appointment. Our mission is to make that as painless - hopefully even pleasurable - and efficient as possible, and Indoor Navigation is one of the best ways to achieve that.

    But we also spend a lot of time thinking about what other users and use cases would benefit from navigation - and navigation quality maps and indoor positioning. The list is a long one - ranging across operations, work flow, security, facility management an more.

    It is absolutely clear that over time all the same benefits in terms of operations, logistics, analytics and business intelligence that have accrued from outdoor GPS and navigation will translate to large, complex indoor facilities, campuses and networks. 

    The Uber-ization of the Enterprise

    We call this concept the Uber-ization of the Enterprise.Sure - in part because its a catchy phrase. But it also captures what is essential - and somewhat underappreciated today - about the revolution of Indoor Mapping, Navigation and Location-services. That is: there is no one killer app, but rather successive waves of innovation to come, each with increasing efficiency gains.

    When the government blasted all those GPS satellites into space and NavTech (far before Google) set about building navigation quality maps of the world, nobody was thinking about competing with taxis. And even Uber itself is no longer thinking about competing just with taxis, but more generally about "revolutionizing transportation and logistics."

    So yes, its not a stretch in our view to think that we can help our Enterprise clients - or more specifically the people that must get around their very large and complex facilities, campuses and networks - to self-organize and coordinate their navigation and flow to achieve big gains in efficiency.

    One Example:   Our New Shuttle Tracker Feature

    We are going to be breaking new ground in a number of important areas in our deployments this Fall. . One that speaks to directly to this concept is integrating the location data of campus shuttle vans directly into our mobile application. Here we can take advantage of our unique ability to:

    1. close the gap between the Indoor Map and the Outdoor Map; 
    2. track the position of the user; and
    3. integrate and display the position of other users - or in this case vehicles;

    to provide a service that is truly compelling, useful - and transformative in at least this small part of the user experience.

    Our Shuttle Trackerfeature will enable us to show users:

    1. where the nearest shuttle van is currently on the map; 
    2. provide its estimated time of arrival to the pick-up location closest to that user;and of course
    3. get that user to their pick-up location efficiently and on time to meet their shultte with turn-by-turn indoor navigation.

    No - these are shuttle vans - so you won't be to order one to come pick you up on demand. Not yet, anyways! But that's definitely the direction this can head.

    In the meantime, we can make the user's experience of waiting for that van a lot better by giving them visibility into what is going on. No more staring at your watch and wondering. Sip your coffee and relax! Or, if you are just leaving an appointment, we can provide your estimated time-to-destination inside the building- and compare that to the Van - to check if you will make the next pick-up!

    This is just the first step. It's not too hard to imagine where we can go step-by-step as the app is deployed Enterprise wide - to caregivers, operations, security, drivers, vendors - anyone that needs to get around this enormous campus and complex buildings.

    Stay tuned for more on that as we get closer to launch!

    Would you like to learn how Connexient MediNav can bring Indoor Navigation and Shuttle Tracker to improve Patient & Visitor Experience, increase efficiency and capture lost revenue for your organization?

    CONTACT US

  • Wayfinding app tested at Memorial Hermann Hospital

    Trying to maneuver Houston's many sprawling medical centers is equivalent to navigating a city within a city.

    Actually, many would argue it's even harder. When you're sick, hurting or concerned for a loved one, trying to navigate your way to a doctor is not easy.

    This app will help you navigate Memorial Hermann! Haley Hernandez is giving it a test run today and finding out how fast It can be expanded to other hospitals.

  • Wayfinding Design for Understanding:  A Classic Position Paper

    I recently came across this position paper called:

    published by the outstanding Center for Health Design.

    While it was published in 1992 - and thus predates virtually all Digital Wayfinding - it is strking how the issues and principles it articulates continue to resonate.  To excerpts stand-out.

    The Benefits of Good Wayfinding

    In sum, good wayfinding promotes

    • Reduction of stress and frustration for the visitor
    • Functional efficiency
    • Visitor accessibility
    • Safety
    • Patient empowerment, improving cognitive skills in spatial understanding
    • Improved bottom line

    All of those benefits apply to Digital Wayfinding, of course, but even more powerfully. We start with addressing patient and visitor stress, and all the impacts that has, but that is just the starting point. Some of the most compelling use cases we are now discussing and addressing with our clients in our roadmap revolve around staff efficiency and safety and security. This is all part of our vision of Navigation Enabling the Enterprise.

    The Dynamic Nature of Wayfinding

    The White Paper presents a very clear understanding of the "dynamic" nature of Wayfinding.

    Unlike spatial orientation with its static relationship to space, wayfinding is a dynamic relationship to the space. It is dynamic in that people’s movement with their direct sense of orientation to place must be accommodated

    It then lays out the rinciples of good wayfinding system design.

    Unlike spatial orientation with its static relationship to space, wayfinding is a dynamic relationship to the space. It is dynamic in that people’s movement with their direct sense of orientation to place must be accommodated

    1. Knowing where he or she is (i.e., “I have just arrived at the front door of the surgery center”).

    2. Knowing his or her destination (i.e., “My instructions from the physician’s office indicate that I need to check in and register with the information desk”).

    3. Knowing which route gets him or her to the destination (i.e., “The information receptionist told me to follow the signs to the elevator and take the elevator to the third-floor surgery waiting room and check-in desk”).

    4. The ability to follow that route (i.e., “I need to locate and interpret appropriate signs that lead me to the elevators, exit the elevator on the third floor, and locate the surgery waiting room”).

    5. Knowing when he or she has reached the destination (i.e., “This appears to be the surgical waiting room, and the desk is most likely for registration”).

    All of these are core principles in the design of our Indoor Navigation UX. There is one fundamentally new and different characteristic of ;Indoor Navigation that differs from static wayfinding systems (i.e. signage), however:

    1. Knowing where he or she is

    In a navigation UX, that sense of "knowing where you are" goes away -and actually becomes a distraction. Referencing visual landmarks is important - but for a different reason. These indicate to the user that he or she is on the right path - i.e. that navigation is on track.Slowing the user down with map reading and map awareness is counterproductive and confusing.

    Navigation is about what is next and where you are going, not where you are.

    In a typical wayfinding journey, a user might well shift between navigation to map reading - in which case that location and map awareness come to the forefront again. That is why Connexient puts so much emphasis on all modalities and all screens, not just navigation. But they key to navigation is understanding the difference!

  • What Exactly is Indoor Navigation Anyways - and Why Does It Matter?

    Connexient was founded with a singular, driving vision:  to develop and deliver a true turn-by-turn indoor navigation experience that would be as intuitive and useful as that which billions of users enjoy with mobile navigation apps in the "outdoor" world by companies like Google, Apple and Waze.   Over the last few years, we have worked very hard - and while we are by no means finished - we have been able to achieve that vision.

    What's So Special About Indoor Navigation?

    The short answer is simple:  it's the only thing that really solves the problem.

    Connexient's vision and commitment to the goal of indoor navigation came from our founders deep experience and understanding - born of 20 years developing and implementing wayfinding signage sytems in hundreds of hospitals at GDS, Inc. - that the complexity and scale of hospitals and healthcare networks pose wayfinding challenges such that nothing other than "blue dot" navigation will actually solve the user problem.   Large medical centers encompass millions of square feet, of interconnected buildings and associated parking options, and campuses can have dozens of buildings or more.  In total, they are truly labrynthes on an epic scale!

    Maps and directions alone - even with a blue dot indicating a user's indoor position - simply are not good enough. Only true turn-by-turn navigation, where the user is guided at every step and moment of their journey can keep users on track all the way to their destination.Without that, frustration quickly sets in and patients and visitors will revert to the current wayfinding solution: the next staff member that happens to walk past them. It doesn't matter if that is a nurse or a neurosurgeon, they are going to have to walk that person to where they are going!

    What Exactly Is True Turn-by-Turn Indoor Navigation?

    This is an important question, and one where there is a lot of confusion in the marketplace. Here are the key features in what Connexient defines as true turn-by-turn indoor navigation.   Not suprisingly, you will find the same capabilities in all of the leading outdoor navigation apps. That is what a user expects and will require in order to find indoor navigation to be intuitive and useful.

    1. The user's position must drive the user's view of the map and route

    This is essential. Hospitals are simply too complex - and the external references too varied - to ask the user to read and understand a map and correlate the blue dot to where they are. The driving principle of blue dot navigation is that the user does not need to understand or even care where they are.They simply need to continuously understand that they are on the correct path and heading.

    2. The Map Visualization Must Provide a "Balcony View"

    In outdoor navigation, this is called the "Birds Eye" view. Anyone that spent years using in-car navigation systems before using Google Navigation for the first time knows why this is so important. Navigation is about what is next.The straight overhead map view constricts the user to a box of where they are now, and is a relic of map reading, not navigation. In navigation, the user must always be focused on the next landmark, turn and decision point.

    3. Turn Prompts and Directions Must Be Synchronized with Location

    Rich, accurate maps and step-by-step directions are very important as part of an overall digital wayfinding solution, but they have nothing to do with navigation. In a navigation UX, information must be reduced to what is critical - which is the exact instruction delivered at the right moment when approaching the next decision point in a route. Everything else is noise.That requires careful synchronization of prompts and guidance with users current and dynamically changing location. Audio / voice prompts are a useful option - that can even eliminate looking at the screen - but must be user and admin configurable in a hospital environment to ensure they are not disruptive.

    4. Off Route Notification & Recalculation

    No matter how good and precise the navigation UX, users will get confused and miss turns or other errors from time to time. It is essential that in these moments that the user is prompted quickly and can be guided back to their route - or recalculate and re-start their route. If this does not happen, users will lose confidence rapidly and abandon the navigation app (and go back to that carbon-based solution walking past them!).

    5. Visual Landmarks Are Important

    Finally, external references - "visual landmarks" - are very useful to assisting users if they get confused and reassuring them as they progress on a route. Once again, this often has very little to do with what is important for map reading.  What matters is not where you are, but rather what you see.

    A critical part of the MediNav deployment process is our wayfinding survey, where we systematically record and add into the app visual landmarks that users actually sees as they walk through a building.  In lobbies, atriums and open areas, there are shops, artwork, fountains and so on that can be particularly valuable to orienting the user. In interior hallways, there are signs, doors, cross hallways and so on. But the key is at all times the landmark reference in the app must be exact, clear and synchronized with the user's current visual viewpoint.

    All of these elements must be woven together into a sequence of UI events that are intricately choreographed with the user's location and on-the-ground experience of his or her route . The user does not need to understand or read a map- which is an entirely different and much more intensive cognitive process - or even understand where they are. They just follow the route, blue dot and prompts without having to think. That is when you know it is a navigation user experience.

    Connexient's MediNav incorporates and coordinates all of these features into the delicate dance of navigation. We believe and our experience has shown us that it is a fundamentally different experience from "blue dot wayfinding", and it the only way to actually reliably guide users through complex facilities and avoid frustration that leads to abandoning the app. In other words, it is the only thing that works.

    Link:  Learn More About Indoor Navigation and Other MediNav Features

    So while we would be the first to say that our navigation UX is not perfect, we are confident that it is the most complete, sophistated and intuitive one available today.  And we are committed to continually advancing and refining it.

    The final, defining pass or fail test of any navigation UX and solution, of course, is does it get you there?   A great UX is not enough:  it must be reliable, accurate and current.  To deliver that requires intense focus on the execution of the other two critical components:  navigation-quality indoor positioning and navigation-quality maps and data. Those will be the focus of Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

    • Part 2:  What is Navigation Quality Indoor Positioning?

    • Part 3:  What are the Requirements for Navigation Quality Maps and Data?

  • What is Navigation-quality Positioning Anyways - and Why Does It Matter?

    A while back, we blogged about what are the key requirements and characteristics of Indoor Navigation in What Exactly is Indoor Navigation Matter Anyways - and Why Does It Matter? In this blog, we will shift focus to the crucial foundation that must be in place for navigation to be possible at all: navigation-quality indoor positioning.

    Exactly what is required for indoor positioning to be “navigation quality” is something we have learned, refined and perfected over the last 3 years in a rapidly growing footprint of over 50 million square feet of actual deployments at scale.

    A Little Background on Indoor Location-based Services and RTLS

    First, it is helpful to understand a little background - and therefore the distinction between navigation quality positioning and what is possible with the previous generation of location-based services developed by RTLS companies (Real Time Location Services) such as Centrak, Awarepoint, Stanley Aeroscout and Versus Technologies. Cisco has also become an important part of this space with Cisco CMX and Hyperlocation. These companies were all focused on solving a different set of problems: starting with asset tracking, but over time other needs such as workflow monitoring (e.g. Nurse Call), compliance (e.g. Hand Hygiene) and so on.

    The requirements for positioning solutions for these needs were entirely different and most germane to this topic, did not require very rapid positioning updates, uniform coverage and, for some use cases, high accuracy. Where high accuracy is required - what is termed “room level” or “shelf level” accuracy, it is achieved by a hyper-locally placed monitor or “exciter” rather than any uniform and widespread positioning solution.

    These technologies have proven to be very valuable and important to many hospitals and Enterprises, but what Connexient learned through hard experience is that they could not provide indoor positioning performance that meets the requirements for indoor navigation.

    The Core Requirements for Indoor Navigation

    So what are the core indoor positioning performance requirements for indoor navigation? These requirements are not obvious until you actually try to make navigation work at scale, as we have done. So here is our POV.

    1. Dynamic Refresh

    Indoor navigation requires the precise synchronization of information and prompts to the user based on their location. MediNav, for example, gives the user turn prompts exactly when needed and off route notification if they miss a turn or otherwise stray from their path. This is essential to avoiding confusion and frustration. In order to do this well, refresh rates of 1 second or less are required for true indoor navigation.

    2. Reliability

    Reliability is crucial. Once you give a user a blue dot, they expect it to be available and work in the same way at all times. It cannot disappear, or lag, or be available only when the user is connected to a wireless network.

    3. Uniformity of Coverage

    Blue dot coverage has to be continuous, end-to-end for the entire wayfinding journey. There cannot be dead spots, or places where coverage is not available. For Connexient, this challenge also extends to providing seamless transitions between outdoor GPS and indoor BLE-based positioning, and covering areas like large atriums, outdoor walkways and garages, etc. This enables us to power our popular My Car Saver and Parking Planner featuresthat solve some of the most important real world problems of wayfinding at large medical centers.

    Why Does It Matter?

    At the end of the day, we have learned that MediNav is compared to and must meet the standards of dynamic refresh, reliability and uniformity that users have been conditioned to by Google, Apple and Waze.It is a challenge that we have embraced, but is a very high bar!

    But we took it on because we understood two truths.

    1. Indoor Maps - and even location enhanced wayfinding - will not solve the problem. In facilities of the size and complexity that we address - and generally indoors - users simply cannot cognitively relate maps to the complexity of the environment. Only true indoor navigation, which eliminates the intellectual process of map reading, actually works.
    2. Unless we meet the UX standards of outdoor navigation, users will become frustrated and abandon the solution.To achieve that, we must have navigation quality indoor positioning. Actually, what users don’t realize is that this positioning quality must greatly exceed anything that is achieved outdoors!

    Interested readers can learn more about this in:

    BLE is the Choice for Indoor Navigation Quality Positioning Today

    Over the last 3 years, we have tried just about everything that is out there, and seen that the only indoor positioning technology that can meet the requirements of indoor navigation quality today is the combination of Handset Sensor Fusion together with BLE Beacons.

    This this approach is similar to how your smartphone uses GPS satellites to “triangulate” your position for outdoor navigation and location-based services. In the case of BLE, the technique is called “tri-lateralization” - where we can read the signal of 2 or optimally 3 beacons at one time that have known location. This is then combined with other sensor inputs - such as WiFi and EMF “fingerprints”, accelerometer and compass - using sophisticated “Handset Sensor Fusion” and inertial navigation algorithms to produce dynamic, accurate and reliable indoor positioning.

    BLE is Now a Part of the RTLS and WiFi Infrastructure

    The good news is that BLE has been embraced by most leading RTLS platform and solution providers - as well as CTOs and CIOs as part of their broader "Internet of Things" strategy.  This is ushering in a new era where Connexient is also supporting and leveraging BLE Beacons installed and supported by companies such as Centrakand Awarepoint, as well as BLE Beacons embedded in APs in Cisco Hyperlocation and Mist Beaconpoints. 

    There are 3 basic approaches to deploying BLE into the Enterprise today:

    1. Standalone battery powered BLE beacons.
    2. Powered BLE Beacon - either part of WiFi APs or as standalone units.
    3. USB or other “plug-ins” to existing APs.

    This new landscape is enabling our clients to move toward a unified location services infrastructure, where Connexient can use the BLE beacons installed and maintained by RTLS and other vendors. Connexient can also flexibly deploy its own battery powered beacons as a bridging solution, or in many cases to supplement other BLE infrastructure to ensure uniformity and reliability of coverage.

    Whatever the infrastructure choice our clients make, Connexient will leverage our Handset Sensor Fusion, proprietary calibration processes and expertise to deliver true navigation-quality indoor positioning and our indoor navigation user experience.


    Want to Learn More About BLE and Unified Location Services Infrastructure Strategy?

  • Why Indoor Navigation for Hospitals is a Brilliant Idea

    Or Maybe Just an Idea Whose Time Has Come

    Every now and then in technology-driven markets, we witness a magical confluence of factors - enabling technologies, user mindset, a cost curve driven by Moore's Law - that produce an "Inflection Point".   Adoption suddenly accelerates and what yesterday seemed futuristic now seems obvious, and it seems like all at once everyone wants to embrace it.  In plain English, this is also called an idea whose time has come.

    Whatever you want to call it, we are seeing signs all over that Indoor Navigation has reached its inflection point.  We'll start out the year by making an easy prediction therefore:  2015 will be the year of Indoor Navigation!

    Yes, of course we are biased!  On the other hand, we are by no means the only company pioneering this market.  And more importantly, after several years of preaching, we are seeing voices pop up all over talking about the value of these technologies to businesses and users.

    One example of this came up in this posting in HISTalk the other day. 

    http://histalk2.com/2014/12/30/news-123114/

    Read blog on HISTalk"I have to disclose a brilliant idea I heard in listening to the rehearsal of the Versus webinar I mention below, which I honestly think is the most interesting webinar I’ve ever watched. John Olmstead of Community Munster captivated me all the way through on the hospital’s use of ED technology, but he really grabbed me at the end when he suggested technology tools he needs. His holy grail is a way-finding, GPS-type app that patients and visitors can use on their own devices to locate themselves precisely on a hospital floor plan, then receive directions to get them to a desired location. Example: I’m in room 4401 with my mom and I want to go to the cafeteria, then to the financial counselor, then to the gift shop, and then back to 4401, so give me turn-by-turn directions like I get with my car GPS. His take is interesting: patients will become so attached to hospitals that offer this app that they won’t consider going elsewhere, where they’ll go back to stumbling around lost or trying to follow decades-old red vs. green lines on the floor that lead to confusing elevators. Hospitals are always a poorly conceived patchwork of added-on construction that went up quickly as funding allowed, so visitors spend a lot of time wandering and wasting the time of employees who have to assist them. Turning that universally embarrassing situation into a competitive advantage is brilliant"

    We of course reached out to HISTalk to let them know that such a solution exists today!

    http://histalk2.com/2015/01/03/monday-morning-update-1515/

    Read the post on HISTalkI mentioned last week that John Olmstead, who runs the ED and surgery departments of The Community Hospital (IN), says in an upcoming Versus webinar that he would like to see a GPS-wayfinding type technology so that hospital visitors could navigate around campus using their smartphones. Readers sent information on two companies that offer such technology:

    Connexient offers a smartphone app that provides turn-by-turn navigation to visitors at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and will bring six more hospitals live on it in the next few months.

    So Indoor Navigation is the First Enterprise Killer App for Indoor Positioning

    So it does seem that the obvious but new is rapidly becoming accepted.

    • Billions of smartphone users throughout the world have come to expect – and rely upon - intuitive, reliable and accurate maps, directions and turn-by-turn navigation to get to any location they want to go.
    • Those same users will over the next few years come to expect - and then demand the same experience and services when they enter any large building or facility in the world - whether that be a hospital or otherwise.

    We say "Enterprise Killer App" because the we've already seen the first killer app - in Retail.  In this, however, proximityis the driver rather than locationper se. ; That's a blog for another day!

    But Indoor Navigation is just the Tip of the Iceberg

    Make no mistake:  we believe that Indoor Navigation - when it is accurate and reliable - is a game changer when it comes to patient and visitor experience.  But Indoor Navigation is just the starting point for enormous additional opportunities to provide Indoor Location-based Services across the Enterprise, with use cases that bring compelling value to users and direct ROI in capturing lost revenue, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

    The beauty is that when you implement Indoor Navigation quality mapping and positioning, you are actually laying the foundation for all the rest. We've blogged about this elsewhere, and we'll continue to do so!

    Contact Connexient for a Demo of our Navigator Edition v. 2.0


    Learn More About Navigator Edition v. 2.0

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Connexient LLC

210 West 29th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 763-6604 | (888) 850-4920
[email protected]