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Microsoft announces the preview of the new Azure Maps Creator tool. With Creator, companies can create their own custom maps of indoor locations such as factories or office buildings.

Azure Maps Creator is part of Microsoft’s Azure Maps suite of location services. Azure Maps provides access to TomTom maps that businesses can use to develop services such as navigation apps.

Microsoft sees this as an opportunity for a range of new use cases, including Augmented Reality. Creator allows developers to convert a building’s blueprint into a map and add additional details such as the location of wifi routers, and use this data to trigger events in an AR application. Hypothetically, a maintenance application can detect in the map on which floor a network technician is located and provide data about the network setup on that floor.

Tracking devices in real-time

Microsoft is also looking at tracking wifi-locations in the future. The next version of Windows will have a feature that will allow IT teams to track the location of devices using their wifi signal. Developers can use this feature in conjunction with Azure Maps Creator to create maps that show the location of devices in real-time. This makes it easier for employees to find lost devices.

According to Robert Lucchi, senior program manager at Azure Maps, the possibilities don’t stop there. “You could also build cross-platform, mixed-reality solutions with Azure Spatial Anchors accessible via HoloLens, iOS and Android devices,” he wrote in a blog post.

This technology can be used to help employees find available meeting rooms or to enable a retailer to track the location of visitors in a store and send promotional offers to their phone as they walk past a product. It is also possible to combine Creator with other services in the Azure Maps suite, such as Azure Maps Weather.