Navigation Apps don’t work for everyone, and most of the world remains unmapped. It’s time to revolutionise how everyone gets around | Celso-Zuccollo, COO of Waymap explains!

Did you know that humans spend 90% of their time indoors? That’s crazy, isn’t it? And yet navigation / mapping apps only seem to work outdoors.  

Why is that? It’s for a very simple reason, and it’s also not for a lack of willingness.   

These types of apps require a map to help get you around, but they also need to know where you are on that map. When outdoors, GPS does exactly that. When indoors, it’s much less simple, and we at Waymap have made it our mission to build a positioning system (and app on top of that) that works everywhere GPS can’t. Our goal is to be accurate enough to help navigate blind people around modern cities, and benefit everybody in the process.  

What’s the story behind Waymap?
Waymap was founded by our current CEO, Dr Tom Pey, who is himself blind and was previously CEO of the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC). The young kids that the charity serves tasked Tom to go out and develop a way to help them get around the London Underground independently. From that, Waymap was born.  

To solve for that use case there were several technical difficulties. GPS is typically only accurate to 20-30m outdoor and doesn’t work indoor. Even outdoor it’s not accurate enough to provide the step-by-step instructions required to help people with no sight to get around on their own. We needed to build a technology that worked to much greater accuracy, so we set the internal target of 1m. In the context of the London Underground, our technology also needed to work deep underground where the phone has no external signals, meaning we couldn’t rely on cellular data, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi to help us. 

And that’s exactly what we at Waymap have done. We’ve built machine-learning based algorithms that locate users up to 1m accuracy and they use nothing but the IMU sensors built into the smartphones themselves. By starting out to solve for a very technically difficult use-case, we believe that we’ve built a technology that can benefit everyone immensely when moving around modern-day cities. 

Why navigation indoors?
Both indoor navigation, and outdoor navigation to much greater accuracy are vitally important for accessibility. People who are blind or have low vision, older adults, wheelchair users, and people with cognitive impairments can all benefit immensely from knowing they have a trusted helper on their journey. That’s what Waymap wants to be. 

But, like the “cut-curb” which is built into modern cities for wheelchair accessibility, our technology will benefit everyone who uses it. This is a product design philosophy known as “universal design.”  

Imagine an app that gets you all the way to your check-up room in the hospital, your exact seat in a stadium, your specific item in a mall, or just makes sure you turn the right way when you exit the tube. That’s the level of navigation that we want to power. 

Why I believe in this mission.
Before joining Tom and the team on this mission to scale Waymap globally, I was working in finance in London. Since I was young, I’ve loved building things, anything really. It comes from my father who spends every spare second in the garage, either fixing things or unintentionally breaking them! 

Working in finance I felt a bit too far away from the real coalface of innovation, and when I met Tom I fell in love… Not with him, but with the idea of Waymap! Real social impact, cutting-edge technology and  the potential for global scale all built into one great idea. 

I offered my services to the team pro-bono initially, and very quickly thereafter had joined full time. It’s been a great journey so far and I believe we are just starting out on our exponential growth curve. 

Where to next for Waymap?
We’ve spent a long time building the technology and are now firmly in our commercialisation phase. We’ve just recently closed an important funding round which gives us the resources to expand our technology on the global scale. As with any navigation system, there’s a strong network effect at play. The more buildings we map, the more valuable the user experience becomes. And so that is exactly our plan, to build powerful networks of maps around the world so that we can allow Anyone, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, to go Anywhere, indoor, or outdoor. 

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