Monthly Archives: May 2015

Spatial Invaders: Transforming the Way We Shop, Interact, and Explore


Recently I was asked to present at two spatial gatherings in Victoria, and give my thoughts and predictions on the opportunities for survey and surveyors in the brave new world of BIM and beyond.

Whilst the majority of my musings related to spatial capture of the built environment (encouraging or satisfying BIM adoption and brown-field use), I did also talk about the need for surveyors to engage with clients outside of the incestuous architect/builder/architect sphere.

Below is a re-posted article from global architecture firm Gensler which clearly outlines the impact of ubiquitous real-time spatial data for the con-sumer and pro-sumer. Whilst the article talks about GPS, those in the spatial fraternity know that this is just one method of geo-location, with others like

More Accurate GPS is poised to Change the Way We Shop, Interact, and Explore Our Environments

By Irwin Miller,  Lifestyle Sector leader for Gensler

More accurate GPS will foster previously unimaginable connections between mobile device users. Image © Irwin Miller

This week brought the introduction of GPS technology capable of increasing accuracy of positioning from a few feet down to a few centimeters. The new technology reduces location errors from the size of a car to the size of a nickel—a 100 times increase in accuracy. This is a major technological breakthrough that will affect how we interact with environments, the places we shop, and entertainment venues, as well as how we travel and connect with individuals around us. It also opens up the possibility for advances in exciting technologies like virtual reality (VR), mobile mapping.

GPS with this level of accuracy has long been available for geology, surveying and mapping, but until now it’s been cost-prohibitive due to costly antennas and large-scale infrastructure. The big breakthrough that is allowing the application of it to everyday devices is the ability to utilize already existing antennas in smart phones and other personal devices.

Imagine being directed to the exact spot where your desired items are located. Image © Irwin Miller

Imagine shopping in a store where your GPS-enabled smartphone leads you to the exact product you want on the exact shelf where it is stocked. Imagine communicating more accurately with iBeacons in retail, hospitality and museum environments. Imagine having the ability to expand your universe in VR enabled games using devices like the Samsung Gear Headset that was recently released as a cost-effective VR.

Devices equipped with the new GPS will be able to understand the sections in a store you frequent most and which products you interact with most. Suggestions for related items could be sent to your phone, letting you know exactly where such items can be found. (Follow-up product offers can also be sent if the product you are looking for is not available.)

The new GPS also holds exciting consequences for drone use. GPS equipped drones could deliver products to your front step or a precise spot under your mailbox that you, the customer, specify.

Self-driving will benefit from the inclusion of more accurate GPS systems. Image © Irwin Miller

A more precise GPS will provide self-driving cars, like those being developed by Google, with far greater accuracy, making such vehicles safer.

And these GPS systems can work in tandem, strengthening social bonds and helping users forge connections with those around them. Accurate data of who is around you in the restaurant, on an airplane, store or entertainment venue can be sent to users, providing the ability to interact with your device like sending someone a cocktail or sharing a coupon you can’t use. Much like the revolution that higher levels of details and pixel-count brought to digital photography during the past decade, or the massive increase in broadband Internet speeds from dial-up years prior, I believe more accurate GPS will add levels of capabilities that developers and designers of environments will be able to utilize immediately. Lifestyle brands, retailers, and consumers can all benefit from the capabilities technologies like this afford their environments. The key to leveraging these powers and achieving success will be finding the right pairing of applications and a thoughtful approach to enhancing experiences. We must further connect consumers+brands+environments to achieve elevated outcomes.

With these new GPS systems in tow, drones could deliver packages to an exact spot at a person’s residence. Image © Irwin Miller

Irwin Miller
Irwin Miller is a lifestyle sector leader for Gensler’s global practice, and a design principal in the Los Angeles office. Focused on brand integration and user experience in retail environments, Irwin is forever motivated by his own daily encounters with design – finding inspirations everywhere from the county fair to summer holidays with family in Europe. Contact him at