Jul 1 · 3 min read

Will Ayers

30 June 2019

Read Time 3:00

How will people navigate in 5 years? In 10 years? How are people navigating now? What technologies are people using to wayfind on foot or in vehicles?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), one of the most disruptive classes of technologies [1] is unquestionably governing the current and future technologies of how people are finding their way or ‘wayfinding’. Countless software and hardware companies are disrupting the industry at a restless pace, forever changing the way people move around the world.

People are allowing machines to make decisions for them every single day, with a future being more dependent on this relationship. What does this mean for humanity? Shall we embrace AI or shall we be fearful? In all actuality, it will continue without our individual control. Since the beginning of humankind, people move towards innovation and progress.

Waze [2], the navigation app was created and based on user input, with little to no understanding of traditional wayfinding. How did this happen? Technology and AI can leapfrog traditional conventions and approaches and completely disrupt industries. This occurs because AI and Machine Learning can perform calculations and predictions at levels that is almost incomprehensible to traditional ways of human performance.

Autonomous vehicles [3] are here and will eventually take over the entire automotive industry. Half of all vehicles will be autonomous by 2040, with all vehicles to be autonomous by 2070 [4]. Through GPS navigation and sensors, people will not need to be engaged in driving or navigation. This completely disrupts and changes the wayfinding industry for human based navigation signage.

Elon Musk has created Neuralink, a tech company that is developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers [5]. This is being created so people can compete with future AI machines. AI has been widely used for many years now, and there is a general fear based from Hollywood movies and worst case scenarios of robots. What is fascinating is that people are using AI almost daily through Google Maps, Uber, Banking, Instagram, Online Shopping, Alexa, and many others [6].

Augmented Reality Wayfinding [7], using ones phone camera, is already changing how people move through space by using a digital portal within real space, in comparison to a traditional built wayfinding system. Studies of cognitive psychology show a greater trust, confidence, and increased sales with digital signage versus static signage [8], for the reason that digital signs can respond and be instantly updated, where static signs can take years to be revised.

The wayfinding industry currently exists within an incredible space for growth and innovation. We must ensure to always place human centered philosophies as paramount for wayfinding design. Connecting a sustainable built environment with a digital space will forever adapt, and constantly transform as people and technologies become more refined.

The future is bright…



Will Ayers

Founder of FOUND.


FOUND. is a contemporary multidisciplinary design studio based in Downtown Los Angeles with a studio practice to challenge and modernize conventional wayfinding, signage and graphics through the format of digital, GPS, haptic, autonomous, and artificial intelligence technologies.


  1. Kasey Panetta (2018) 5 Trends Emerge in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2018
  2. Aya Ephrati,(2013) Waze Founder Uri Levine Talks About The Company’s Path To Billion Dollar Success
  3. Kasey Panetta (2018) 5 Trends Emerge in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2018
  4. Todd Litman (2018) Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions
  5. Neuralink
  6. Gautam Narula (2018) Everyday Examples of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  7. Sara Abrons (2018) ISE 2018: 22MILES Wayfinding Adds Augmented Reality Kit To Mobile App
  8. David Drain (2007) The psychology of digital signage


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