Indoor mapping with CARTO

Indoor mapping

Greetings mobile data mappers! This is a very special post coming to you from the Xamarin Evolve conference in sunny Florida. If you are attending, make sure you visit CARTO’s booth (#118) and meet me in person!

Now, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming in our mobile series, with an introduction to a non-traditional type of map, indoor maps.

In many cases, indoor maps are very similar to “ordinary” maps but on a smaller scale. For example, the recent article by The L.A. Times, charts every shot ever taken by Kobe Bryant on the basketball court. The interactive graphic was done using standard mapping methods and data in a creative way with CARTO technology. You’ll notice that the visualization is an interactive chart and not a geographical map. This type of spatial visualization can also be done on mobile devices.

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With CARTO’s mobile tools and SDK, you get some special features and methods specifically developed with indoor maps in mind:

1) Ground overlays from raster images allow raster image based indoor plans to be used as map backgrounds. You may have CAD drawings or just nice artwork.

2) You can use 3D Polygons. These are just like polygons, but with height and 3D rendering, and customizable colors. They can be added to your visualization as vector elements. You can use them to show rooms, walls, or as 2.5D or “shoebox models,” and color each individually and add interactions. For bigger datasets, thousands of polygons, we suggest the use of vector tiles instead of just the vector layer.

This Google Glass app uses 3D polygons to map the Mobile World Congress venue:

Indoor mapping

3) For most advanced cases we can show a full indoor 3D model. This requires nice 3D content, which is hard and quite expensive to create, even if you use free tools like SketchUp. The models must not have too detailed of a geometry. You can use textures to give a very realistic perspective to building floors and also outdoor looks. See our demo screencast video on how this might look in your app.

For indoor positioning there is no global standard solution. We don’t provide indoor positioning, but there are many organizations that do. Some companies are focussed on proximity only, and some even give geographical location coordinates. I would check outstartups like: indoo.rs (Bluetooth beacons and WiFi), Gimbal (proximity), and IndoorAtlas (geomagnetic field, no special beacons).

As indoor map data providers we suggest checking out Micello, and also HERE for licensing data. Some other vendors who deal with indoor maps (Google, Apple) unfortunately just use them in their solutions and do not give data away. You can import your 3rd party data into the CARTO platform and then use it with the mobile SDK as described in an earlier blog post in the series.

Happy mobile mapping!

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