Indoortubes: A Novel Design for Indoor Maps

By Nossum, Alexander Salveson | Cartography and Geographic Information Science, April 2011 | Go to article overview
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Indoortubes: A Novel Design for Indoor Maps

Nossum, Alexander Salveson, Cartography and Geographic Information Science


In cartography much effort has been put into the study and analysis of the human perception of maps. This result in guidelines and different map styles which inherits different qualities suitable for different purposes, ranging from abstract maps to close to real life 3-dimensional augmented realities. Similar to mostly all of these efforts is the focus of the depiction of outdoor environments.

Maps focusing on indoor environments, such as large buildings, rarely receive attention in the cartographic community. Indoor maps are commonly used for emergency and evacuation maps. Typically found in corridors in lane and public buildings. The standard style of these maps is very close to architectural maps used for construction, where one floor is depicted from above in a 2-dimensional fashion. The cartography generally receives little attention. Typically the orientation is not egocentric and the level of detail is very high resulting in a visual clutter and problems of finding the nearest exit fast.

Earlier work has addressed the cartography in emergency maps to some degree. Klippel et al. (2006) propose a set of general guidelines for "you-are-here-maps" (YAH maps). The guidelines are of a general kind and are suitable for evaluating the quality of already existing "you-are-here" maps. However, the guidelines are not directly applicable for other purpose indoor maps, or for the design of new maps. Additionally the architectural style of the maps seems to be accepted without discussion of alternative visual representations.

Radoczky (2007) discusses several visual representation methods for indoor maps and their different qualities. The traditional architectural style maps, named floor plans, are argued to be one of the better suited representation methods for indoor environments. However, 3-dimensional representation, such as virtual environments, is argued to be the best; although, the technological capabilities for this were not ready at the time of the writing (Radoczky 2007). The technological situation is different today, especially for mobile devices with medium sized high-resolution screens and enough computational power capable of displaying 3-dimensional virtual realities. However, it is not certain that virtual realities are good for all purposes in indoor environments. Virtual realities are often made to resemble the reality as close as possible. One of the strengths of traditional outdoor maps is the ability to get fast overview over large areas due to abstract representation of the environment. Virtual realities do not exhibit this kind of abstract representation and gaining fast overview will inevitably be harder for the user. This argues for the development of new visual representation methods for indoor maps.

Some prototypes using indoor maps have been made and tested out for different purposes in indoor environments. Muller et al. (2006) presents a mobile indoor navigation system. The system interacts with large printed floor plan maps positioned at important locations within the building. Thus, the mobile system never displays the map itself, but augments the path on top of an image of the printed map. This can be said to be an early variant of augmented reality. The cartography is not discussed thoroughly, and as mentioned a standard floor plan map is used as map style. Issues of orientation, overview and not least navigation across floors will inevitably occur.

Ciavarella and Paterno (2004) present a similar mobile system intended as a museum guide. The system reacts to the location of the user and displays information and a map of the current location. The map design is an architectural style floor map in two different variants, one detailed and one intended for overview. From a user evaluation the authors found that egocentric maps are preferred, as well the users gave feedback that the map design should be changed.

The earlier work briefly presented here indicates that the chosen map style for indoor maps are often basic floor plans.

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Indoortubes: A Novel Design for Indoor Maps


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