Apple’s indoor maps format is now a standard; here’s why that matters

Apple Maps is essential to future innovation, from autonomous vehicles to AR experiences, so it’s noteworthy that Apple’s own Indoor Mapping Data Format (IMDF) has been adopted as a community standard for indoor positioning services.

What is IMDF?

IMDF has been accepted as a community standard by the Open Geospatial Consortium in response to proposals from a cross-industry group that includes Apple, Google, Autodesk, and Ordnance Survey.

It enables a venue, organization or industry to create fully customized indoor maps using industry-standard tools. The maps use existing Wi-Fi networks to enable GPS-level location accuracy so visitors can navigate interior spaces using their device.

Scott Simmons, chief standards officer at the Open Geospatial Consortium, had this to say:

“With IMDF now part of the OGC Standards Baseline, we look forward to deeper integration with other geospatial Standards to address location needs everywhere.”

Apple developed IMDF to provide indoor maps for venues, so Apple Maps users have an easier time navigating spaces. The company says it “offers a mobile-friendly, compact, human-readable, and highly extensible data model for any indoor space, providing a basis for orientation, navigation, and discovery.”

That integration between standards is understood as vital to the evolution of autonomous machines.

The tech may be used to solve real challenges, such as providing government agencies with indoor maps for emergency use; allowing hospitals to provide mapping guidance for patients, doctors, and visitors; and helping airports create maps that partners can customize — shops or airlines could brand the data in their own apps while maintaining accuracy.

The great indoors

Maps are information — not just to help you navigate between points A and B, but to teach intelligent machines to navigate spaces contextually and safely. When you stop to consider it, you’ll realize that Maps are not fixed.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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