X-Ray Eyes

On the Future of Wayfinding Design

You’re leaving a subway station and don’t know where you are. You’re running late and getting nervous. Why? Because of confusing signs or even no signs at all!

I want to find my destination fast and without getting lost. So, how can we make wayfinding not suck?

Wayfinding systems should be easy to understand, personal and take place in space and not only on walls. Spatial computing can be a solution to spatial problems such as wayfinding design. Today most spatial computing devices are too clumsy to use in everyday life. But in 5 to 10 years?

The following 5 digital experiments show how wayfinding systems change through spatial computing:

1. Find your destination fast instead of wandering around

We should see wayfinding systems as interactive digital products. You talk to a building and search for your destination. In a matter of seconds, you get the direction.

2. Personal instead of one-fits-all

No matter if you have permanent, temporary or no disabilities, the wayfinding system shows you the route that meets your needs. Current wayfinding systems are often designed for ‘normal’ people although there’s no such thing as ‘normal’.

3. Relevant instead of everything

Wayfinding systems should adapt dynamically to different situations. Whether it's a talk or an exhibition, you will always see the relevant information you need. 

4. There instead of hidden

Imagine you just need to look up and you see where you are. But why is the map on the ceiling?

For most of the time in human history, we navigated by looking up. Based on the location of the sun and the stars humans navigated oceans precisely thousands of years ago. With spatial computing, people will no longer experience products in two dimensions. So we have to question ‘flat’ interaction design conventions. When we design spatial computing solutions we can draw inspiration from our ‘natural’ human behaviour.

5. X-ray eyes instead of paper maps

Future wayfinding systems can show us what’s normally hidden. Looking through walls can help us to choose the right exit when we leave a building.

So will wayfinding systems be perfect now? At least spatial computing can make our experience of wayfinding a bit easier and more personal.

©2024. Felix Schultz. All Rights Reserved.