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Aston University working on £700,000 Innovate UK project with RNF Digital 


Aston University will be working with mobile app developers RNF Digital Innovation on a £700,000 Innovate UK project to develop a ground-breaking indoor navigation system, to be known as SWiFT, which will ultimately revolutionise the customer experience in a wide range of businesses including museums, hospitals and supermarkets.

In 2013, statistics showed that 48% of the UK population either owned or had access to a smartphone with a large proportion of this population accustomed to either providing their location or seeking location services.  Currently, navigation is primarily outdoors using GPS however new iBeacon technology is able to carry out navigation and positioning indoors to within a few meters, which can then trigger media content on a smartphone. However, the potential of combing indoor navigation with the delivery of information at the selected geolocation of interest is currently not being exploited. 
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RNF Digital
SWiFT Technology in the commercial environment

Consequently, this project will develop an innovative navigation technology, known as SWiFT, which will allow users at indoor venues to download a list of products, items or services, select those of interest and then be navigated towards them using the fastest route whilst having offers pointed out to them on route, or they can chose to be navigated via special offers based on their previous purchasing history. However SWiFT will be much more than an indoor ‘satnav’ as the user interface, and user experience, will be developed in a way so that users can navigate safely without having to read the screen and be used by people of all ages and sensory abilities. Therefore this technology has the potential to improve the personal safety of people with sensory or age-related impairment, and improve the quality of life of people with disabilities as, for example, they can more easily find the best route with wheelchair access.

The project will utilise the capabilities of RNF Digital, Lincoln University, Bestway Cash and Carry, and Aston University. RNF Digital are a specialist software and mobile app development company who will ultimately develop SWiFT in the form of a mobile app on Ios and android platforms. Lincoln University will work on the navigation aspect of the app using the iBeacon sensors with Bestway Cash and Carry store piloting the app in one of their flagship stores.

This project will utilise the unique resources that we have within the Aston Interactive Media (AIM) lab and apply our industry-led design of interaction based technologies”


Aston University’s contribution to the project will be led by Dr Jo Lumsden who is head of the Aston Interactive Media (AIM) Lab, whose novel design and facilities, unique in the UK, are dedicated to the research and development of interactive media as well as the industry-led design of interaction-based technologies. In this project Aston will be leading the design and evaluation of the user interfaces to the navigational system, which will apply their expertise in the area of novel multimodal interaction techniques to ensure the system is accessible to people with sensory and age-related impairments.

Dr Jo Lumsden, lead academic for this project “This project will utilise the unique resources that we have within the Aston Interactive Media (AIM) lab and apply our industry-led design of interaction based technologies.”

Rob Mannion, Managing Director at RNF Digital Innovation, said “We are delighted to have secured funding for this project as RNF has always prided itself of being at the forefront of modern mobile app development, and this project will help to reinforce that position.”

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email rke@aston.ac.uk or call 0121 204 4242.