GPS satellite navigation was made for me. I used to be the world’s most lost person.GPS卫星导航仪是为我生产的。我曾多次是世界上最更容易迷路的人。I don’t know quite which non-quality I possess that causes this, but I still painfully recall the 1994 Birmingham, Alabama, fiasco — an hour for a two-mile drive. And the two hours in 1974 I spent trying to escape a French town with no signposts.我不是很清楚地告诉我缺少哪种特质造成了这种情况,但我现在依然伤痛地忘记1994年在亚拉巴马州伯明翰市的悲惨经历——驱车一小时才回头了两英里。

我在1974年曾花上两小时希望逃出一座没任何路标的法国城镇。So when in 1996 I trialled one of the first satnav systems, fitted by Philips to a Range Rover — £12,000, wheel sensors included and if you knocked a wheel on the kerb, it all had to be recalibrated — I was more excited than by any other tech advance before or since.因此,当我在1996年试用刚问世的一套卫星导航系统的时候,之前或之后的其他技术变革都没比这更加令人兴奋的了。

这套导航系统由飞利浦(Philips)加装在一辆路虎佳句(Range Rover)上,还包括车轮传感器在内价格约1.2万英镑,如果车轮磕上马路牙子,那就得新的校正。But navigation indoors, where satellites don’t work, is another question. For someone who even gets lost on the way to the bathroom, it would be the dream. I was not joking in a March column when I begged for someone to invent a way of locating my wife — or indeed any given product — in Sainsbury’s.但卫星不起作用的室内导航系统是另一个问题。对一些连去卫生间也迷路的人来说,这将是一个梦想。我在今年3月的一篇专栏里求人发明者一种定位我妻子(或者任何登录产品)在Sainsbury’s餐馆的方位的方法,这不是打趣。

There have been some interesting and successful pilots for indoor location by big tech companies. But I am thrilled to report that now a tiny British company, Pointr — the archetypal Shoreditch, beanbags in the meeting room start-up — seems to have really cracked indoor direction finding.大型科技公司仍然在展开一些有意思的室内定位试验,并获得了顺利。但我很高兴地告诉他你们,现在英国的一家小公司Pointr或许知道掌控了室内定位技术。Pointr是典型的肖尔迪奇区(Shoreditch)的初创公司,在会议室中有豆袋坐垫。

Unannounced, Pointr’s system, which offers indoor navigation accurate to a metre, is currently being trialled by a huge London department store (I can’t say which yet), a leading British supermarket (ditto), a big London rail station and four major airports worldwide.Pointr没发布其室内导航系统,该系统可以准确到米的距离,目前在伦敦一家大型百货商店(我现在还无法说道是哪一家)、一家英国大型超市(同上)、一座伦敦大型火车站和全球4个大机场试验。I had a tortuous but fascinating briefing the other day on those accursed beanbags (Dear Tech Startups, please go back to chairs) and then went to see a live Pointr installation. And it absolutely works. For me, it felt like a replay of 20 years ago and that prototype satnav moment.有一天,我在那些简直的豆袋坐垫上参予了交错而有意思的概述不会(亲爱的科技初创企业,请回到椅子上),然后去看了Pointr的现场加装展出。

这套系统意味著管用。对我来说,它就看起来20年前的一幕重现,那种原型导航系统亮相的时刻。The Pointr demo was on the 39th floor of One Canada Square at Canary Wharf in London, the tall, fat centrepiece building, each floor of which contains 30,000 sq ft of prime getting-lost real estate.Pointr是在伦敦金丝雀码头第一加拿大广场(One Canada Square)的第39层展开展出的。

第一加拿大广场是一座矮小宽广的中心大楼,每层都有3万平方英尺的很更容易让人迷路的空间。There are 250 fintech start-ups in Space 39, as it’s called, along with public areas. Using Pointr, even I was able to find legendarily tricky places like the gents more or less sure-footedly.这个取名为“Space 39”的楼层有250家金融科技初创企业,还有一些公共区域。

用于Pointr导航系统,即便是我也多少需要稳健地寻找男厕这么不为人知的地方。Back in Shoreditch, Pointr’s Axel Katalan told me just how big the business of locating people and assets indoors could be.返回肖尔迪奇区,Pointr的阿克塞尔考陶隆(Axel Katalan)告诉他我,室内定位人和东西的业务有多辽阔。“It’s for airport passengers to see where they are, where the gate is, how long it will take to get there. But also think of libraries, hospitals, warehouses, factories, retail, even casinos. Anywhere big enough to get lost. And it is also usable by the visually impaired, using audio cues.”“机场乘客可以告诉自己在哪里,大门在哪儿,以及去那儿必须多长时间。



”Part of the business case for Pointr is that when people at stations and airports are confident about getting where they need to be, they will relax and explore the retail opportunities, which they will also be able to locate more easily.Pointr的部分商业理由是,当在车站和机场的人们相信他们需要抵达必须去的地方的时候,他们将深感放开,并偷偷地找寻购物的机会——他们也不会更容易寻找那些零售店。Operators of such venues also get a trade-off in the form of detailed “heat maps” of where people (at least those carrying mobile phones with Bluetooth) cluster. These maps are apparently something of a data holy grail — traffic mapping is currently done by people with hand clickers.此类场所的运营方也被迫权衡考虑到,因为该技术可以获取人群(最少是那些装载蓝牙手机的人)挤满的详尽“热图”。这些图似乎是让人求之不得的“圣杯”数据——目前流量绘图由装载手动页面器的人员已完成。

The technology for Pointr is based on Bluetooth beacons, coin-sized, battery-powered discs mostly made, curiously, by Polish companies. Beacons were once touted as the future of marketing, but people weren’t keen on being marketed at; navigation may be their rebirth. It took 450 beacons to kit out the London department store, installed secretly at night over a week.Pointr的技术基于蓝牙信标,这是一种硬币大小、由电池供电的磁盘,有意思的是它们大多由波兰的公司生产。蓝牙信标一度被撒谎为营销的未来,但人们却不期望沦为营销目标:导航系统有可能是它们的新生。那家伦敦百货商店花上了一周时间在晚上秘密加装了450个信标。But don’t supermarkets like you getting lost so you’ll find more to buy? Yes, Mr Katalan says, but precious footfall data are even more important to them. The only retail venue to date that has told Pointr they prefer people being confused is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul — home to one of the 25-strong start-up’s three overseas offices, alongside Munich and Dubai.但餐馆不是期望你迷路,以便出售更加多东西吗?考陶隆回应,答案是认同的,但宝贵的客流数据对他们来说更为重要。

目前为止只有伊斯坦布尔的Grand Bazaar告诉他Pointr,它们期望顾客在餐馆中迷路。伊斯坦布尔是这家25人初创企业的3个海外办公室所在地之一,另两个地方是慕尼黑和迪拜。

So is indoor nav a keeper? Mr Katalan believes it’s at the stage WiFi was 10 years ago: alien to most people, but on its way to being a tech staple.那么室内导航仪就是避免人迷路的吗?考陶隆指出,当前室内导航系统技术正处于WiFi在十年前所处的阶段:对大多数人来说还深感陌生,但于是以朝着沦为主流技术的方向发展。I have a feeling that 10 years from now, those unable to find their way around a big public space will be as annoyingly retro as people today who don’t have GPS and stop their car to ask a pedestrian — normally me — for directions.我实在,10年以后,那些在大型公共场所迷路的人将不会和现在没GPS并停下来车问路的人(一般来说就是我)一样落伍得招人烦。