The team that developed the indoor navigation system. Clockwise from left: Zhigang Zhu, Jin Chen, Arber Ruci and Hao Tang.
In a major stride toward revolutionizing indoor navigation, a City College of New York-led team has developed groundbreaking technology that could chart real-time paths, delivering users—both sighted and low vision—a seamless and accurate indoor navigation experience complete with turn-by-turn guidance. The invention has earned a U.S. patent titled "System and Method for Real-time Indoor Navigation."
The innovation is the brainchild of the City College-based CUNY Computational Vision and Convergence Laboratory (CCVCL) headed by Zhigang Zhu, Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Computer Science in CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering – and its partners. All CCNY alumni, the partners include:
- Jin Chen, Class of 2020 (BS) and 2022 (MS), a data scientist and co-founder and chief technology officer of neARabl Technology;
- Arber Ruci, Class of 2012 (BS), CCVCL member, CEO and co-founder of neARabl, and Entrepreneur In Residence at the National Science Foundation’s New York I-Corps Hub; and
- Hao Tang, Class of 2003 (MS), CVCL member and professor of computer information systems at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
An entity born out of CCVCL, neARabl was officially established in October 2021. It holds exclusive licensing rights for the cutting-edge technology and partners with Bentley Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BSY).
This advanced indoor navigation system features a meticulous modeling subsystem that intricately processes multimodal locational data, autonomously creating models for overlapping local regions. Subsequently, the navigation system harnesses these models to dynamically chart real-time paths to the benefit of users.
Work on the technology can be traced back to the CUNY-Rutgers-Lighthouse Guild-Bentley Systems joint project - Smart and Accessible Transportation Hub. Envisioned as a transformative initiative, it sought to transform a large transportation hub into a smart and accessible hub. The outcome was an augmented reality (AR)-based mobile system tailored for assistive indoor navigation, offering turn-by-turn guidance over expansive indoor spaces without the need for costly infrastructure.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul lauded the technology at the New York State Innovation Summit. This after the CCNY team leveraged the State’s innovation ecosystem, particularly NYSTAR and FuzeHub, to complete 70 pilots throughout the state, engaging over 6,000 users. They continue to refine the technology, committed to producing additional intellectual property, including 3D reconstruction and 2D blueprint to 3D conversion.
Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. Education research organization Degree Choices ranks CCNY #1 nationally among universities for economic return on investment. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi (now Lightcast) puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. This year, CCNY launched its most expansive fundraising campaign, ever. The campaign, titled “Doing Remarkable Things Together” seeks to bring the College’s Foundation to more than $1 billion in total assets in support of the College mission. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.