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New modern-day nomad navigation systems

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 10 March, 2003  (Company News)
Trade show visitors know the feeling of panic, despite all preparations. Hurrying through the maze of halls and aisles before closing, they waste time looking for the last specific exhibits.
The more reasonable way: Nomadic information systems (not the stars) permanently guide visitors in the right direction while supplying supplemental information customized to the surroundings. One such system is currently under development as part of the project 'Situation Awareness in Motion'. Six Fraunhofer Institutes participate in SAiMotion through the end of this year.

The basic idea behind SAiMotion is to provide continual support for a given task independent of the end user device. Example: The trade show information is initially set-up on an office PC. At the show itself, the user remotely accesses the information with a PDA or a similar mobile device and selects an exhibit booth. Outdoors, GPS satellite navigation is used to guide the visitor to his or her destination. Indoors, depending on the available technology, infrared sensors or wireless communication standards such as WLAN or DECT are used. With acceleration sensors, it is possible to navigate to within one meter. The PDA displays the location on a zoomable map. When the user clicks on an exhibit booth, he or she automatically receives additional information that the system downloads from the Internet.

User-friendliness is at the heart of the SAiMotion concept. 'It's important that big information volumes are well structured and displayed in a simple fashion to the user,' emphasizes Dr. Fabian Hermann, who works on the visualization of interactive plans and maps at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. SAiMotion also creates a user profile, enabling the system to use these preferences to select additional information and provide it on demand.

Trade shows are not the only application suited for SAiMotion. Professor Reinhard Oppermann, head of the department for nomadic information systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT, optimistically notes: 'We believe this combination of information source and direction finder also has tremendous market potential in the tourism industry or for maintaining large, spread-out industrial plants.' Anyone who wishes to take a closer look at the system during CeBIT must, at this juncture, still be able to manage with conventional forms of navigation: Hall 11, Stand A 24, Area 3 (Mobile Communications), Work Station 8.
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