Smartphone users explosively spread across the world, it offers more features than just sending and receiving phone calls. It has changed the way the world communicates. With the development of technologies (3G, 4G/5G, etc.) there is a major change in the behavior of citizens in various areas. With the penetration of the internet into the smartphone world, it boosted the growing number of smartphone devices in the hands of people. Smartphones could be used as the Internet of Everything (IoE) in the modern world. As explained by CISCO IoE is an intelligent way of connecting people, things, processes, and data.
People use the smartphone to have access to various types of services such as for communication, Global Positioning System (GPS), browse the web using a data network, share documents, play games, take photos, etc. One of such an exploring feature is the Indoor Positioning System (IPS) used to find a location-based solution such as real-time location systems (RTLS). This indoor location tracking or Indoor Positioning System (IPS) was developed as motivation from the outdoor positioning system called Global Positioning System (GPS).
With the success of technologies, indoor navigation IPS is evolving. Indoor navigation cannot rely on the satellite signals because of the low accuracy and they get blocked by walls and ceilings. Due to such limitations, the indoor navigation system uses different technologies such as Bluetooth beacons, NFC tags, Visible Light Communications (VLC / Li-Fi), Wi-Fi Access points, Ultrasound devices, etc. The use of these technologies primarily increase the accuracy of the system.
Market of Global Indoor Positioning and Navigation: IPS market globally tend to value USD 6.92 Billion in 2017 and possibly will grow to USD 23.6 Billion by 2023 at a CGPR of 27.9%.
Precious solution for indoor positioning or tracking was either very expensive, or not real-time, or inaccurate cheap proposals. There are some of the popular indoor tracking technologies in action, that includes:
- Proximity-based System: Some possible techniques that were used by proximity-based indoor navigation system are QR Codes / NFC tags, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or beacons, Li-Fi, Wi-Fi access point, Ultrasound devices. This technique determines the “closeness” of the object to the registered sensor. It has two approaches 1) Extracting the position of the object using the direct contact through the touch sensors and 2) Second approach is by finding the range area of the receiver and the device using the Bluetooth and RFID cards. Based on all the proximity solutions the Reference point-based systems are the cheapest and the efficient system (high accuracy).
- Wifi based Access points: With the increased broadband usage the Wi-Fi access points already exist in many buildings and indoor facilities. These access points could easily be integrated with the indoor navigation system making it easy to install. It uses the technique called the fingerprinting method, which uses the Wi-Fi signal (RSSI – Received signal strength indication) and MAC address. From the user side, the smartphone app calculates the current location using the Wi-Fi signal and the particular MAC address. From the server-side based on the location of the Wi-Fi module node, it keeps track of the user’s location.
- Ultra-Wide-Band (UWB) Systems: UWB technology uses the principle of trilateration and Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) techniques to estimate distance, localization, and tracking of the objects. It offers accuracy within 10 – 30 cm range and uses the low frequency and high bandwidth. This offers good service and accuracy even in the environment of more obstacles.
- Acoustic System: Sound frequencies that are higher than the audible range (beyond 20 kHz) are used for the positioning system. It uses the same technology as that of the UWB, but it uses the sound waves instead of the radio waves.
- Vision-based indoor localization: This system uses the computer vision combined with a principle called dead reckoning technique to estimate the position in the indoor environment. This approach suits well for the people with major challenges of visual impairments.
The indoor positioning system and tracking system is very essential for tracking and positioning the objects in the indoor environment. The attracting market value brings a huge interest in developing these technologies, companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc. are working on Indoor Positioning solutions.
One such company providing the solution in indoor navigation is Nextome with the great mission that tackles the challenges of Indoor navigation system. It uses the patented technology utilizes smartphone sensors and low-signal Bluetooth beacons leveraged by a physical model as well as A.I. algorithms to achieve remarkable results. The Nextome solution stands out due to high accuracy (1-2 meters).
Nextome Technology has over 5 years of research in order to achieve high accuracy (1.5 meters), scalability, and extreme simplicity.
Extreme simplicity is necessary for installers, who will install beacons and configure maps, and most important for end-users that will use the indoor positioning and navigation features within the App.
From the installer perspective, Nextome is easy because is necessary only to install beacons at the positions suggested by the system. From a user’s perspective, Nextome is easy because they just need to open the app and they are ready to access indoor positioning and navigation services, as it happens using Google Maps
Asset Tracking: Our BLE mesh acts as a digital and IoT infrastructure and provides the basis for asset tracking and our Real-Time Location System Engine. Indoor tracking is normally implemented as a server-based application. No app is required because a back channel to the asset to be located is not necessary in most cases. We can localize all Bluetooth Low Energy beacons (e.g. available as an armband or wafer-thin sticker). In other cases, client-based positioning is used, e.g. when person tracking is part of an employee app. The position is then determined directly on the user’s smartphone and regularly sent to a server.
When it comes to the application of IPS it can be effectively helpful in various environments that include,
- Hospitals: It is estimated that hospital staffs have likely to spend 4500 hours annually in showing the way around for patients inside hospitals. Patients feel the stress when they are lost or cannot be able to find their destination. It helps not only the patients but also the staff members to find the equipment they need.
- Office Buildings: Indoor navigation help employees to find the conference room, restroom, colleagues cabin space, etc. without any waste of time. Not only places it also helps to locate the resources such as printers, tools, or test equipment’s around the office space.
- Complicated Parking place: There are some situations where the indoor parking gets too complicated such as airports, stadiums, huge malls, etc. The navigation system with the help of IoT sensors technology assists the drivers, even help to find free parking space.
- University Campus: Smart campus technologies are growing on a large scale, this gives both the students and visitors a more personalized campus experience.
- Shopping malls and large stores: Shopping malls or complex stores have huge public space to freely move from one location to another that is very stressful, and a waste of time for the visitors. Mobile navigational assistance plays a vital role in such a situation.