Public Release: 

Navigate a city without getting lost

HKU invents world's first Smart Address Plate System

The University of Hong Kong

How often do you get lost in a city even when using GPS? Have you ever called a taxi using taxi calling mobile app but the taxi could not find your correct location? You were waiting in one location, but the taxi driver was waiting on the other side of the road because his GPS indicated you were there. The reason is because GPS has an average error of 10-30 meters, and other indoor navigation using WiFi and Gateway has positioning errors too.

Chair Professor in GIS in Urban Planning and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Professor Anthony Yeh Gar-On and his research team at the Department of Urban Planning and Design of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) offers a novel solution to this problem with the invention of SAP, a sensing device which when installed in front of buildings, shops or offices, can help users within its proximity to know their own locations through a mobile application (App). With the full system consisting of a Smart Address Plate (SAP), Smart Address Coding System, and Smart Address Plate Management System (SAP-MS), there is no need to worry about getting lost ever again. The management of smart cities can also be further enhanced.

SAP is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) proximity sensing device that stores a unique geo-coded Smart Address ID of a building, shop or office associated with it. When a user is within the confidence range of the , the user will know its exact location, and can reach its final destination by following the App.

Like all citizens in Hong Kong having a unique ID number, Professor Yeh believes that one of the most important infrastructures of a smart city is where every building in Hong Kong have a unique Smart Address ID. One easy way is for buildings to be assigned with a unique geo-coded address ID that can be positioned on a digital map. Professor Yeh's team has developed a new postal-building Smart Address Coding System for all buildings in Hong Kong by combining a new postal code with the global georeferenced coordinates of a building. Shops, offices, and car parks in a building can be tagged to this postal-building Smart Address for use in navigation, positioning, delivery, management and big data.

With the installation of the Smart Address Plate in the front doors of buildings, shops or offices, supplemented with information from the Smart address Plate Management System (SAP-MS), you will be able to find your location and the route to your destination on the street or in a shopping mall easily without the need to ask for directions.

SAP-MS can provide more tailored services to buildings, shops and offices. It contains the Smart Address Plate Databases linked with a digital floor plan and navigation system that is connected to the Smart Address Plates of the buildings, shops or offices via a gateway system. Apart from providing more accurate location information to occupants and visitors, property management staff can use the SAP-MS to carry out real-time update of information such as occupants, names of shops, functions and events etc. The system can issue alerts to users in the event of a change in meeting room or even change of boarding gates in airports. It can also be used to monitor the condition of the SAP such as power supply, whether or not they are functioning properly, or if they are removed or stolen. The SAP-MS of rooms in a building can be linked up with the whole district SAP-MS network and finally, the city SAP-MS network to become one complete smart city address management system. Whether people are navigating inside a building or navigating in a city, they can all be connected with the same system for smarter navigation and urban management.

Professor Yeh said: "The invention provides an innovative and effective way in making sure that every building in a city will have a unique and easy to remember address code that is linked up with the shops and offices in a building for reliable and convenient navigation in a city, shopping mall or office building. Providing a unique eID Smart Address for buildings and shops is to take one further step of Chief Executive Carrie Lam's pledge in the Hong Kong Policy Address "to take forward key infrastructure projects for Smart City development to provide an "eID" for all Hong Kong residents." Instead of asking people on the street or in a shopping mall and office building for directions, you will be able to find your location and direction from the Smart Address Plates, leading you from the street to the shops and restaurants that you are going to inside a shopping mall. Hong Kong can be the first city to use such an innovative and sophisticated Smart Address Plate System that combines navigation and management, and set a new standard for smart cities in the world."

Possible uses of the invention include enabling delivery persons, firemen, and ambulance assistants to find the location of your address more quickly and accurately, saving time and lives. Furthermore, it can also be used in conjunction with other devices to automatically open doors for persons with disability, help you find your parking space, inform and guide you to the latest boarding gate or train platform that has just been changed, as well as to prepare for future driverless cars and robots in a smart city. The team is filing an international PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) patent related to this new invention, and is discussing with the Hong Kong SAR Government as well as major shopping malls and office buildings regarding the application of this new system in Hong Kong so that it can become the first city in the world to use this set of innovative system.


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.