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Welcome to Outdoor/ Indoor Navigation Projects Wiki

Indoor navigation involves a number of challenges, both spatiocognitive and technological, which differentiate it from navigation in other types of environments. The crux of the issue is that compared to outdoor travel, indoor navigation is supported by far less environmental information, orienting cues, and external aids (such as maps or GPS). As a result, spatial learning and wayfinding of indoor spaces can be far more challenging than performing the same spatial behaviors outside. It is therefore surprising how little research has been done with indoor navigation and how many differences--environmental, technological, and behavioral—are still poorly understood compared to outdoor travel.

Our primary research interest in this topic is to provide solutions to the indoor wayfinding challenge by determining the optimal information requirements for both visual and non-visual interfaces to support spatial knowledge acquisition and navigation of indoor environments. We study this problem using physical spaces, virtual layouts, and mixed environments.

More on the Indoor Wayfinding Challenge.



As indoor spaces become more complex, and information technology develops, there is a growing use of devices that help users with a variety of tasks in indoor space. Outdoor spatial informatics is well developed, with GIS at their core. Indoor spatial informatics is less well developed, and there is currently a lack of integration between outdoor and indoor spatial information systems. This wiki provides an interface to research efforts on the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces that has proceeded as part of several research projects funded by the USA National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health, and the Korean Land Spatialization Group. The wiki reports work on models of indoor space and unified outdoor-indoor space from formal models, through data models, to functional models related to usability of indoor and outdoor-indoor information systems.


Information Integration and Human Interaction for Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

NSF grant IIS-0916219

M. Worboys (UMaine-PI), N.A. Giudice (UMaine-co-PI)

The goal of this research project is to provide a framework model that integrates existing models of indoor and outdoor space, and to use this model to develop an interactive platform for navigation in mixed indoor and outdoor spaces. The user should feel the transition between inside and outside to be seamless, in terms of the navigational support provided. The approach consists of integration of indoors and outdoors on several levels: conceptual models (ontologies), formal system designs, data models, and human interaction. At the conceptual level, the project draws on existing ontologies as well as examining the “affordances” that the space provides. For example, an outside pedestrian walkway affords the same function as an inside corridor. Formal models of place and connection are also used to precisely specify the design of the navigational support system. Behavioral experiments with human participants assess the validity of our framework for supporting human spatial learning and navigation in integrated indoor and outdoor environments. These experiments also enable the identification and extraction of the salient features of indoor and outdoor spaces for incorporation into the framework. Findings from the human studies will help validate the efficacy of our formal framework for supporting human spatial learning and navigation in such integrated environments.

Project Website

Cyber Enhancement of Spatial Cognition for the Visually Impaired

NSF grant CDI-0835689

N.A. Giudice, (UMaine-PI), K. Daniilidis, UPenn (PI), R. Manduchi, UCSC, and S. Roumeliotis, UMN.

Indoor navigation poses significant challenges for blind and visually-impaired persons as without vision, there is often no mechanism for accessing room numbers, building maps, and other navigation-critical environmental cues. Effective wayfinding requires successful execution of several related behaviors including orientation, spatial updating, and object and place recognition, all of which necessitate accurate assessment of the surrounding environment. Most research on wayfinding aids has focused on outdoor environments, as spatial behavior is readily supported by speech enabled GPS-based navigation systems which provide access to information describing streets, addresses, and points of interest. By contrast, there is a dearth of technology for conveying such information for supporting environmental access and wayfinding behavior for indoor usage. the limited technology that is available requires significant modifications to the building infrastructure and has limited functionality, barriers which have discouraged adoption.

The lack of compensatory indoor navigation technology has led to dramatic problems in the independence, quality of life and safety risks for blind individuals, one of the fastest growing demographics of our aging population. Guide dogs and white canes are widely used for the purpose of mobility and environmental sensing. However, where these tools are extremely effective for identification of obstacles in the path of travel, they do not provide information useful for staying oriented in the environment or building up a robust mental representation of the space (cognitive map). What is needed to solve the indoor navigation challenge is a device that conveys realtime information about the environment and which supports wayfinding behavior and cognitive map development.

Project Website

Indoor Personal Navigation System for the Blind using Augmented GPS

NIH grant EY017228-02A2,

N.A. Giudice (UMaine-PI), with Koronis Biomedical Technologies (PI), Minneapolis, MN.

Indoor navigation can be extremely challenging for blind individuals given the lack of access to room numbers, building maps, and other navigation-critical information. While the global positioning system (GPS) has proven extremely beneficial in supporting outdoor navigation, this technology has previously been unavailable for indoor usage. We believe the use of new highly sensitive GPS receivers augmented with advanced dead reckoning technology will provide the solution for similar benefits for improving indoor navigation for the visually impaired. Dead-reckoning uses measures of heading and velocity to provide a three dimensional positioning solution based on a known starting point. We propose to develop a small, low-cost indoor personal navigation aid to support blind/low-vision travel. The commercialization of such a device would have immediate benefit on the independence and quality of life for a large market segment of our society, as the World Health Organization estimates over 12 million U.s. citizens have some form of uncorrected vision loss, with these projections doubling by the year 2030. In this phase II SBIR project, Koronis Biomedical Technologies (KBT), in collaboration with Prof. Giudice at the University of Maine, will develop a production-ready personal navigation device that supports indoor route guidance and location-based information. The key advantage of our approach is that the device does not require building modifications and is developed around a user-centered interface thoroughly tested in several human behavioral studies. The device will also leverage the software platform of an existing outdoor navigation system for the blind, thus representing the first viable accessible system supporting seamless indoor/outdoor travel.

Project Website


Indoor Spatial Awareness

Grant (07KLSGC04) from the Cutting-edge Urban Development - Korean Land Spatialization Research Project funded by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs

M. Worboys (UMaine-PI)

Indoor Spatial Awareness (ISA) is a multi-national R&D project whose vision is to provide a basis for Indoor Spatial Theory and Systems to meet the growing need for indoor spatial awareness in hospitals, convention centers, and other ubiquitous computing environments. The goal is to develop a computing technology to:

  • Establish a basis for indoor spatial theory and data modeling
  • Develop systems for building and managing indoor spatial databases
  • Prepare a test bed for ISA project and develop pilot application systems

The University of Maine developed a fundamental theory of indoor space concerning the nature and behavior of (mobile and stationary) indoor spatial objects describing the nature and behavior of indoor spatial objects and the spaces they inhabit. It supports

  • Quantitative representations (eg., (x,y,z) coordinates or dimensions) of spatial objects
  • Qualitative representations (eg., in a point-set topology) of spatial objects
  • Reasoning about spatial object types (eg., locations) and relations between objects
  • Reasoning about the behavior of objects in indoor space (eg.,moving objects)

Project Website


  • Worboys, M. Using maptrees to characterize topological change. Proceedings of the International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2013), England, 2013.
  • Worboys, M.F. The maptree: A fine-grained representation of space. International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2012), Ohio, USA, In N. Xiao et al., editors, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7478, pp. 298-310, Springer, Heidelberg, 2012.
  • Walton, L. and Worboys, M.F. A Qualitative Bigraph Model for Indoor Space. International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2012), Ohio, USA, 2012. In N. Xiao et al., editors, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7478, pp. 226-240, Springer, Heidelberg, 2012.
  • Nossum, A.S., Giudice, N.A., & Li, H. (in press). Vertical color maps: A data independent alternative to floor plan maps. Cartographica.
  • Li, H. & Giudice, N.A. (2012). Assessing the Optimal Visual Granularity Level for Assisting Indoor Navigation. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2012. March, New York City. 2012.
  • Li, H. & Giudice, N.A. (2012). Assessing the Visual Granularity of 3D Indoor Maps. Poster presentation at the UMaine Graduate Expo, April 2012, University of Maine.
  • Worboys, M.F. Modeling indoor space (keynote). Third ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Indoor Spatial Awareness (ISA 2011), November, Chicago, IL. 2011.
  • Yang, L. & Worboys, M. (2011). Similarities and differences between outdoor and indoor space from the perspective of navigation. Accepted poster. Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2011), September, Belfast, ME.(extended abstract, poster)


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