What Are The Leading Technologies For Indoor Positioning?

Applied Tech Review | Thursday, May 12, 2022

Indoor positioning systems (IPS) offer numerous potential applications for safety and security.

FREMONT, CA: GPS and indoor positioning systems are frequently mistaken. They offer comparable services but in varying capacities.

GPS uses multiple satellite connections to identify the location of an object, generally outside. It aids in tracking the general positions and movements of assets such as cars, for which a location estimate within 5 to 10 meters is acceptable.

IPS utilizes local sensors within a facility to find monitored things. These devices provide significantly more accurate positions and are designed to operate in inside conditions where GPS signals are poor.

Each of the numerous wireless standards now utilized in IPS has advantages and disadvantages. Six of the most prevalent standards in use now are:

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): RFID is among the most widely used IPS standards. For interior positioning, both active and passive RFID variants can be employed.

Active transmitters are powered by batteries and can enable long-range, real-time location tracking. Passive transmitters do not require power. In close proximity, they reflect a signal to the receivers.

Since RFID tags broadcast using radio waves, they do not require a line of sight to function with receivers. Signals can also travel through numerous popular building materials. Metal surfaces, however, can interfere with RFID signals.

Infrared (IR): Like TV remotes, IR transmitters use infrared light to communicate their position signal to receivers. IR positioning systems are affordable, but they require a clear line of sight to function. This solution is ideal for open environments and tracking applications with low priority.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi internet antennas for enterprise networks can also provide indoor positioning services for linked devices. In business settings, laptops, tablets, and other devices ping many Wi-Fi beacons multiple times per second to determine which has the strongest signal. The Wi-Fi network control system can support the trilateral locations of these devices based on the time between pings.

Wi-Fi IPS' primary advantage is that it utilizes current infrastructure. However, its locational precision is inferior to those of many competing standards. It is also restricted to areas with Wi-Fi coverage.

Bluetooth: Bluetooth short-range wireless can also be used for interior locations. Bluetooth is typically used for wireless coupling devices, such as a headset with a smartphone, because it is low-power and relatively cost-effective. However, its range is significantly shorter than other standards such as active RFID.

Ultra-Wideband (UWB): UWB provides precise indoor location. Beacons reflect a radio signal with a high frequency of tags within their coverage area. Signals travel well through building materials and return to beacons with an accuracy of one centimeter.

However, this precision comes at a price. Ultra-wideband wireless systems are expensive and consume a great deal of energy. This level is appropriate for high-risk or mission-critical situations where additional tracking expenses are tolerable.

Cellular: In addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, cellular data towers may also provide indoor positioning serviceș. The benefit of cellular IPS is that mobile devices can function as receivers.

Cellular signals penetrate buildings significantly better than GPS signals, yet they are still susceptible to interference within the building. Typically, accuracy is limited to 50 meters. In some specialized usage cases, cellular IPS may be an alternative.

These are some of the most prevalent wireless positioning standards used indoors. Numerous others are employed for legacy applications or in exceptional circumstances.

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