Raster 2D vs. vector 3D maps - what's new in Pointr's 3D maps?

Pointr has consistently led the way in 2D indoor mapping, positioning, and navigation technology since its inception in November 2013. In that time, many of our competitors have found the challenge of accurate indoor positioning in locations such as corporate campuses, airports, hospitals, and retail to be too difficult; some have fallen by the wayside. 

In contrast, Pointr has continued to innovate and has emerged as an undisputed leader and pioneer in delivering an accurate, scalable indoor mapping and wayfinding experience. Enter our latest ground-breaking innovation - 3D mapping and navigation technology. Our 3D indoor mapping now delivers higher resolution, more flexibility, increased accuracy, faster-rendering speed, and lesser resource consumption, with quick and easy updates in the cloud that instantly reflect changes to maps.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • A quick introduction to Pointr’s 3D maps.
  • What’s new in Pointr’s 3D map experience.
  • A side-by-side comparison of the advantages of Pointr’s  3D vector maps over other 2D raster maps.

Introducing 3D mapping by Pointr 

3D mapping from Pointr uses vector-based maps and geometries made up of one or more interconnected vertices. When creating 3D maps, there are 3 key types of geometrics to consider:

Points Lines Polygons
single vertex, e.g. a chair, desk, elevator two or more vertices where the first and last vertex are not equal, e.g. corridor, and walls. three or more vertices with the last vertex equal to the first, e.g. zones, a room

A diagram that represents (1) the 3-dimensional real world (2) a raster tile or cell representation in 2D, and (3) a vector representation of the same data points in 2D (a 3rd Z-axis is required for 3D). Source: https://sqlserverrider.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/geospatial-gis-file-formats

What’s new in Pointr’s 3D mapping experience?

Let’s now look at some of the enhancements delivered by Pointr’s new 3D mapping experience. These include:

    • Worldview map enables campus-wide map & wayfinding experience - maps are embedded within the world map to enable campus-wide indoor-outdoor wayfinding and handle multiple buildings within or across multiple sites. Each map object is assigned real-world coordinates, making it possible to facilitate outdoor functionalities, including wayfinding Points of Interest (POIs) between numerous campus buildings, food/car pickup, and driving directions to your parking spot.
    • High-performance, interactive 2D-3D maps - 5vector-based maps are about 20–50% of the size of raster maps and take less time and resources to process and transmit, making publishing and updating map content almost instantaneous. Pointr Rich Maps provide detailed maps in 2D/ 3D that are faster to load than other maps on the market.
    • More dynamic updates - no need to update the entire map file to accommodate one small change; it’s now possible to edit individual map objects simply by dragging and dropping the map content onto the map, these include POI, walls, kiosks, and more.
    • Accurate, user-friendly, and simple maps - user experience improved by showing different levels of detail at different zoom levels i.e. show more detail at 60% zoom than at 20% zoom. This means no more crowded POI/icon views and a cleaner, simpler view throughout your map experience.
    • Create custom maps that truly fit your brand - Customize and style your maps with Pointr. Change colors, themes, heights, fonts, symbols, and icons. Enable light and dark mode and other user personalization, for real-time updates across all devices and platforms.

The advantages of our immersive 3D mapping experience over competitive 2D mapping

When selecting a mapping platform for your buildings, you may come across various mapping providers promoting different mapping formats. We know how confusing this can be. That's why we've summarized a comparison of 2D raster maps on the market and Pointr's 3D vector maps to make it easier for you to choose your first or next mapping platform.


2D raster maps on the market

Pointr's 3D vector maps

Zoom challenges

Low resolution on zoom with limited detail

2D raster is image-based with lower resolution when zoomed in. It's not possible (or very tricky) to display different views at different zoom levels. For example, when you zoom out, show department names, when you zoom in, start showing individual desks and hide the department names. Or show the building roof when you zoom out.

High resolution on zoom with user-selected detail

3D vector is linear and geometric-based with more aesthetically-pleasing graphical output at all zoom levels. It’s possible to display different items at different zoom levels such as only showing meeting rooms and hiding other objects. You can zoom fully out of a building to display its roof, its position relative to other buildings, and its geographical position on the world map. 


Limited geographic accuracy

Low geographic accuracy with data depending on grid size, makes it harder to integrate with real-world map platforms such as Google Maps.

Higher geographic accuracy

Embedded with a real-world coordinate system, allowing more geographic accuracy and easier integration with real-world maps. Better indoor-outdoor navigation.


Performance issues

The size of the dataset can become huge for buildings as the raster stores data in individual cells; this can lead to memory and download issues.

Improved performance

Vector-based maps are 20–50% smaller than raster without compromising the resolution displayed on all zoom levels. It also takes less time and resources to load your map content.


No dynamic styling

Image-based maps that can be zoomed and panned but have no flexible styling options. Every single update requires uploading a brand new map to your map CMS platform.

Dynamic styling

Dynamic styling and updates directly in your map CMS. Easily control and manage the shapes, locations, orientation, and sizes of your map objects. Your maps adapt to different zoom levels, and rotations, and become more interactive.


Maps not up-to-date

Maps are pre-rendered on the developer’s end and loaded on the server, which makes it challenging to show up-to-date maps to users.

Up-to-date at all times

Maps are rendered on the user’s end in real-time every time they open their apps; map content is kept relevant at all times.


Not georeferenced

Raster maps are not georeferenced - therefore, it’s not possible (or very challenging) to integrate any outdoor functionality.


Makes wayfinding between multiple buildings on campus, integrating with food/car pickup, driving directions to your parking spot, etc. possible

Bounding box Limitations

Additions are limited

If you need to add something slightly outside the map, the whole map needs to be re-done (and content too). Raster maps are contained in a fixed bounding box that can't be changed without re-doing them.

Additions are easy

You can add to vector maps without having to re-do the whole map and content. No fixed bounding box limitations like 2D raster maps.

Customer expectations

Old technology

Poor end-user experience as raster maps is old technology that feels dated.

New technology

Meets customer expectations - we're all used to vector-based maps from Google, Apple, Waze, etc. these days.



2D raster maps without conditional rendering based on zoom level

2D/ 3D interactive vector maps adjust their rendering result according to zoom levels - Pointr Maps


Why settle for less than accurate?

Pointr’s maps have been at the cutting edge of indoor mapping and positioning for years, and the enhancements offered by 3D vector mapping have taken our immersive indoor mapping experience to a whole new level. Watch this space as Pointr continues to disrupt and innovate in the technology space we dominate and have truly made our own.

  • Cluttered map view
  • Slow to load, poor performance
  • Poor UX Design
  • Clean, simple map view

  • 50% smaller in size, faster to load

  • Interactive maps available in 2D/3D

Want to learn more?
Watch our MapScale® webinar to explore the revolutionary mapping platform that enables 100,000x faster map production.

Watch MapScale® webinar on-demand


You might be also interested in:


marianne Marianne Slamich
eva Eva Cheng