These navs are made for walking

"navitime

However, according to iSupply, makers of PNDs and smart phones must overcome challenges before the pedestrian navigation market can take off.

The market for pedestrian navigation systems is expected to emerge slowly in the United States and Europe until 2011, when the industry's growth phase is set to begin due to the rise of Location-Based Services (LBSs).

Pedestrian navigation was pioneered in Japan. While the US and Europe markets are expected to emerge slowly until 2011, when LBS will drive the industry's growth phase, pedestrian navigation solutions are emerging quickly, and numerous companies are launching products and making alliances to cover this important segment.

The key factor for companies participating in this sector will be devising ways to make money from their service portfolios. Under the LBS portfolio, this ranges from paid subscription to ad-based models.

"Pedestrian navigation opens up lots of business opportunities for content suppliers and advertisers utilising location intelligence," said Danny Kim, portable & LBS analyst at iSuppli. "Advertisers can simply put contextual LBS content on top of pedestrian maps and make their businesses more accessible to pedestrian navigation users, more so than car navigation users, who have limited door-to-door accessibility."

Still, there are many challenges for pedestrian navigation providers to deploy a profitable suite of services in the mainstream consumer navigation market.

Pedestrian navigation offerings include:

  • Navitime Japan, the biggest navigation service brand for all Japanese wireless carriers, currently has more than 2.5 million paid subscribers. The company has accomplished not only pedestrian mapping/routing, but also the integration of pedestrian-centric content on top of detailed pedestrian-level maps. Navitime announced that it will begin distributing its portable navigation software in the US. Navitime will be speaking at Telematics Update's Navigation & Location USA event in December
  • Network In Motion's AtlasBook Navigator delivers POI information geared specifically toward pedestrian users. AtlasBook Navigator is available in the US and coming to Europe soon.
  • Thinkware, Korea's leading LBS and PND company, provides its Pedestrian Information Mobile Services offering real-time traffic information, public transportation and estimated time for getting from place to place.
  • In Europe, Nokia Maps 2.0 includes the updated pedestrian navigation "Walk" function, which features public-transportation information with station entrances in seventeen cities with localised icons for stops, as well as multi-sensor positioning using A-GPS, and pedestrian orientation using the compass feature.
  • Google is an emerging player in pedestrian navigation with its Walking Direction Mode, which is still in beta format. When the Google Maps user chooses "Walking Directions," the results come with a disclaimer that says the route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.

The success of pedestrian navigation will depend on the rollout of pedestrian-centric content and the integration with pedestrian routes. Furthermore, seamlessly and intuitively integrating public transportation information, branded POI icons and detailed local search information are challenges not yet faced by traditional navigation solutions.

Another challenge is the level of pedestrian navigation mapping, and mapping companies are expanding their map coverage into urban pedestrian levels such as complicated downtown sidewalks, alleys and even indoor facilities like shopping malls and movie theatres.

Another challenge is the frequency of map updates. Map features like crosswalks, sidewalks, stairs, tunnels and bridges can become outdated by any type of construction. Updating pedestrian-centric map features is also a challenge for advertising media and content aggregators, since the number of POIs is relatively large.

Pedestrian navigation is largely an application for GPS-enabled mobile phones, and this solves the connectivity problem as devices don't need to be updated but their servers do. Pedestrian navigation also promises to take full advantage of a larger market, since the number of cell phones far exceeds the number of in-vehicle navigation and PND solutions.

Lastly, pedestrian navigation is hindered by the lack of GPS in urban areas and indoors where GPS signals are not possible. To enable pedestrian navigation in these areas, the devices need to be augmented with dead reckoning sensing technologies, which are emerging from a number of component makers.

Pedestrian navigation is a bright spot for the LBS world. Local search will become the catalyst that supports the take-up of pedestrian navigation and will become the basis for what is largely an ad-based business model.

Telematics Update's Navigation & Location USA event takes place on 2 – 3 December in San Jose, California.


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