|Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS) impact asset monitoring and automation at the enterprise level. The technology is expected to bring in integration capabilities of analytical software tools with the existing maps and navigation software. There are four basic approaches to solving the problem of indoor positioning.
Wi-Fi Fingerprinting is a software only, device-based approach that reads the digital signatures of the WiFi network. It uses device-based software resulting in a low cost and easy calibration but it is weak in accuracy and reliability.
Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons / iBeacons are simple, low-cost transmitters that can be placed around a facility. Application software on the device and then be programmed to read these signals to drive a wide range of uses. It has a low up front cost and low maintenance and is the standard embraced by Apple and Google. However users must maintain Beacon infrastructure, which is not suitable on their ad hoc navigation.
Handset Sensor Fusion involves accessing data from multiple sensors on a screen, such as a compass or gyroscope and applying sophisticated algorithms and techniques to "fuse" these together into an optimal estimate of the device's position. It is device-based software and is low cost and easy to calibrate but like Wi-Fi Fingerprinting it suffers from poor reliability.
Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE) is a network-based approach that leverages an array of techniques to position all devices connecting or visible to the network, not just smartphones. This is the solution most suited to the Enterprise, as it addresses infrastructure security and management. However, with existing technology the accuracy and refresh rates are not suitable for all use cases. Cutting edge solutions merge multiple technologies to provide the optimal solution for difficult challenges.
Locating and tracking:
One of the methods to thrive for sufficient operational suitability is "tracking". Whether a sequence of locations determined form a trajectory from the first to the most actual location. Statistical methods then serve for smoothing the locations determined in a track resembling the physical capabilities of the object to move. This smoothing must be applied, when a target moves and also for a resident target, to compensate erratic measures. Otherwise the single resident location or even the followed trajectory would compose of an itinerant sequence of jumps.
Identification and segregation:
In most applications the population of targets is larger than just one. Hence, the IPS must serve a proper specific identification for each observed target and must be capable to segregate and separate the targets individually within the group. An IPS must be able to identify the entities being tracked, despite the "non-interesting" neighbors. Depending on the design, either a sensor network must know from which tag it has received information, or a locating device must be able to identify the targets directly.
The major consumer benefit of indoor positioning is the expansion of location-aware mobile computing indoors. As mobile devices become ubiquitous, contextual awareness for applications has become a priority for developers. Most applications currently rely on GPS, however, and function poorly indoors. Applications benefiting from indoor location include:
- Augmented reality
- School campus
- Guided tours of museums
- Shopping malls
- Store navigation
- Airports, bus, train and subway stations
- Parking lots
- Targeted advertising
- Social networking
- Indoor robotics
- Other public building maps.
Key vendors: Cisco, Connexient, Guardly, HP