Navigating large and complex buildings can be challenging for individuals with communication difficulties, particularly in unfamiliar environments like university buildings or museums where seeking assistance may not be an option. This report covers a 5 month-long project to assist with this problem by creating an indoor navigation device using a combination of the open-smartwatch and many BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) Beacons.
The project was implemented in the University’s ABACWS building with beacons placed on both the first and second floors. The watch then uses BLE functionality to scan for nearby BLE beacons and depending on the received input, either calculate the shortest path to a desired room using Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm or use the RSSI (Received signal strength indicator) from the closest beacons to detect proximity to the chosen destination. University Students were recruited to help evaluate this project by conducting tests of the watch in a real-world scenario. Their tasks were to input an unknown destination of their choice, follow the directions to the detestation and then provide feedback at the end in the form of a survey.
After all trails were completed, it was found that 100% of the participants found their destination using this form of indoor navigation device, with an average recommendation rating of 6.9 out of 10. However, from technical evaluations, the reliability of BLE Signals decreased by 15.5% during busy periods, highlighting this project’s potential limitations in scenarios with high Bluetooth interference. Further research of this project should explore ways to improve the hardware, as it was found throughout development that the main limitation of this project was the lack of availability onboard Memory and RAM.