Getting to the footy ground, shopping centre or hospital is easy thanks to Google Maps these days. But how can you find your way once you’re inside?

Google, Accenture and Telstra (with its powerful 5G network) are all teaming up to help people get around inside buildings better. It’s called “internal wayfinding”. It’s a fancy name for helping you get around in big public spaces easier, using your phone.

For the last few months, we’ve all been working together to create our first big project: wayfinding at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

Soon, you’ll be able to use your smartphone to navigate inside the stadium, from the front gate, right to your seat (and even to a pie along the way).

Let your smartphone be the guide

Once it’s live, you’ll be able to hold up your phone and see superimposed information about where you’re headed around the stadium. Scan your ticket, and the app will guide you right to your seat. You can even use it to find the closest restroom at half-time or the bar with the shortest queue.

It’s an incredible way to get around, and it takes the guesswork out of big, complicated public spaces. You may even find a few surprises waiting for you around the stadium in Augmented Reality.

It all comes to life thanks to Telstra 5G – with increased speed and capacity to crunch big data fast and make internal wayfinding possible in Augmented Reality.

How we did it

Mapping the external environment is something we take for granted these days. But it’s something that has been mapped for years. Right back to the humble Street Directory sitting in everyone’s glovebox. Mapping internal spaces, however, has never really been done before.

We have to create the information required to navigate people around indoor spaces safely, taking into account the unique architecture and design of every space. If you think of big public spaces that could be mapped – like shopping centres, hospitals, art galleries and stadiums – each one of them has its own unique design and rules.

For example, the fastest way to your seat might be to cross the field of Marvel Stadium, but we have to build in a new route so you don’t accidentally turn into a pitch invader!

To do this, we strap on a very special piece of equipment to map our spaces. It’s called the Street View Trekker Backpack.

It’s literally a backpack containing all the equipment needed to create detailed, 360-degree maps of an environment collected by walking around a space. The next step is then to synthesise that into the data required for internal mapping.

The backpack itself weighs around 20kg, and to make sure we got into every nook and cranny of Marvel Stadium, we walked almost 100 kilometres around the three levels and outside over two days.

All so you can get to your pie faster!

The future of internal wayfinding

The internal wayfinding project can be useful in so many more places than just stadiums.

This technology shows that we can give users granular information about how to find their way around in a public space. We can’t wait to see how it evolves over time in different spaces around the world

Check out the video to see our project in action. We’ll let you know how you can access it when we’re closer to completion.