Is Digital Wayfinding Right for You?
The Dilemma – You are Lost
When you visit a large school campus, or a hospital, or a large corporate center for the first time you do your best to find the main entrance. Sometimes it is easy to spot, but other times you end up in the wrong place or across the campus from where you are supposed to be. Now, try to find someone to ask for directions. There is a good chance you may not find someone, or if you do, just hope they give you good enough directions. Maybe I am alone in this, but this has happened a lot to me.
The Solution – Digital Wayfinding
Now, imagine this. You walk up to the wrong entrance on campus but find a nice display on the wall with an electronic map of the campus. As you get close, you see a button that says, “Touch here to start” and you do just that. Next a directory of offices or buildings pop up and you select which one you are trying to find. The map then shows you where you are in relation to where you need to be. Then, to add to that, it provides a QR code you scan to now put those directions and location on your phone for you to now find easily.
This is what is commonly called wayfinding. This is not a new technology. The non-digital version has been around as long as we can think back, in simple forms of maps of locations and facilities. They evolved to lighted maps that are more graphically pleasing, then to these new digital wayfinding solutions. These digital solutions are typically fed by small computers mounted to the back of the display and linked to the campus network.
The Digital Wayfinding Experts
There are companies out there that specialize in converting your floor plans into electronic and interactive maps. One of these companies is California based 22Miles that has a handful of solutions to address these exact needs. The extent of how you can use this technology will impress you if you have not experienced it before.
Large shopping centers and department stores can also benefit from this technology. So, why don’t more facilities have this sort of thing to help their visitors have a better experience finding their way around? Part of it could be awareness, some of it could be fear of the unknown, but mainly it is cost of implementation, operation, and maintenance.
Some other places you might see these systems would be in kiosks around a city, like a downtown area. These displays can be housed in weatherproof and tamper proof enclosures for the general public in an outdoor environment to walk up to and access for information about where to go for dinner and how to get there, as well as other city landmarks.
These types of systems are becoming more and more popular in mass transit stations to help commuters figure out where their next stop needs to be and how to get to their final destination. Many of these systems can provide estimated walk time so you know what to expect for travel time by foot.
What is the Best System for You?
I won’t break down the cost of a system because, like any AV system, there are way too many variables. What size display or displays do you want or need? How many? Do you have access to a network connection at these locations or do we have to have a cellular connection? How big is your facility and how much development time will be required to put together your system? What other features do you want, like other signage features, announcements, or even live TV?
The options for a solution like this can be endless and consulting with an integrator is going to be your best first step to figuring out the best solution. In addition, partnering with a company like Audio Visual Bend is like getting the best of both worlds, someone to create the content and knows how to hook it all up.
Consider helping your customers find their way around your campus by looking into a digital wayfinding solution.
Erik Beyer, Guest Blogger for AV Bend
Photos courtesy of 22Miles, http://22miles.com