Positioning systems played a major role in people’s lives since the GPS satellite technology, Cellular technology(AGPS). Satellite-based positioning fails indoors because flooring & accuracy may fail, but other technology standards have made indoor positioning possible.
Positioning indoors is more complicated than outdoor positioning using GPS because a certain infrastructure needs to be in place indoors there are different radio signals and sensors to find location accuracy through fusion technology
- Bluetooth Low Energy
- Magnetic Field Detection
- Gyroscope and Accelerator meter
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Low energy Bluetooth beacons play a vital role in indoor positioning because they are inexpensive, small, have long battery life, and do not require an external energy source, cost-effective, easy installation.
When we set the constant parameter configuration recommended by beacon vendors can have a battery life of 18–24 months.
For some specific requirements needs very high accuracy, some use cases like Indoor robotics e.g. some hotel Robert serves foods, Medical Patient monitoring, Hazard area entry detection needs high accuracy, for these, we need to set parameters like Tx power and interval too high in such scenario life is up to 6–8 months.
Beacons with power-saving mode can have lived for up to 4 years. Battery life depends on the different parameters settings of the beacon as follows
Intervals are setting a delay to transmit each packet, default in Millisecond (MS).
Interval is inversely proportional to battery life, Distance accuracy and interval are directly proportional to each other.
Transmission Power describes how long data packets can travel on each interval of time i.e. in simple words, the distance that signal can reach.
To find a distance between user and beacon, Tx power in combination with RSSI algorithm we can find the distance.
Now, beacons are coming out with extra capabilities. They may include accelerometers, light or movement sensors.
A beacon’s “packet” is the data it transmits. It is a capsule containing information to transmit, Receiver decodes the packet and gathers the data and does the business logic.
Two main companies created different protocols, IBeacon by Apple and Eddystone by goggle some other beacon vendors have their own custom packets (like AltBeacon, Sbeacon, etc.) to adopt their APIs, But all these are an extended version of IBeacon and EddyStone.
IBeacon is Apple’s implementation of Bluetooth low-energy (BLE), it is native only for iOS, but compatible with both IOS and Android. Broadcasts one type of data and a unique ID number (UUID, Major and Minor numbers).
Broadcasting iBeacon 4 Main packets
UUID (Universally Unique Identifier): 32-digit hexadecimal splits 5 types of groups.
Major: Two bytes of a string, Lower bytes are used to identify a subset of beacons, Upper bytes for the category.
Minor: Two bytes of string to categorize beacons.
Tx Power: Used to determine the distance that beacon can broadcast.
Eddystone is Google’s open and multiplatform Bluetooth 4.0 protocol. It supports Android, IOS, Windows, Linux, and other platforms that support BLE beacons.
Eddystone broadcast four different types of data:
Eddystone-URL: Contains a single field: URL. It is used for beacon proximity marketing.
Eddystone-UID: Eddysan identifier of a beacon.
Eddystone-TLM (telemetry packet): Eddystone-TLM tone-UID contains packets designed to be broadcast by the beacon alongside the “data” (i.e., UID and/or URL) for the purposes of fleet management.
Eddystone-EID: Security bit for packet decoding, It beacons and proximity technology more secure and also uses authentication for APIs or IoT frameworks.
Position Accuracy using fusion technology
Position accuracy is the main factor combining all data sources like a magnetic, beacon, Wi-Fi, or any other sensor that is conditionally observed.
Environment information like earth magnetic, gyroscope together with the inferred relative movement of the user is then compared against the digital maps and makes the accuracy of fewer than 2 meters.
Indoor Atlas (Indoor Positioning System APIs)
Indoor Atlas API & SDK is a sensor fusion stack adapted to your device’s capabilities and your use case in a secure, scalable, and cost-efficient way.
Follow up the steps to create a simple proof of concept (POC) within an hour
Create an account and set up your location, providing information like Latitude longitude of outdoor, which helps to switch maps from outdoor to indoor.
Add floor plan details and floor map PNG images to create a fingerprint, Align floor plan to the world map to enable accurate indoor positioning.
Align Direction and X, Y axis’s position GUI allows you to free transform options like a drag, rotate, re-size.
API’s are also available to add all the details through HTTP requests.
These floors are integrated with radio signals like a beacon, Wi-Fi, and magnetic signal for fusion by creating waypoints.
Note: Floor plan should align in a proper way with exact coordinates and geometrical axis to have accurate navigation
Create a waypoint, waypoints are the start and endpoint to train a map by walking through the waypoints.
Atlas SDK is available for android and IOS builds the app. Follow up the app authentication and walk through the waypoints. It gathers all radio and geographical data and maps the beacon too.
After mapping you are able to see the signal strength of different colors as shown in the image below, If the color is red it suggests you add a beacon for accuracy.
Export the data in JSON and then add the JSON into the SDK and click start test to connect the waypoints.
POC is ready and starts integration to your application through APIs.
Future Scope of Indoor Navigation
Indoor positioning technologies are helping a variety of organizations to improve their customer’s experience.
There is a big potential for this technology within museums, shopping centers, airports, theme parks, conferences, and event organizers, basically everywhere, where indoor navigation and location-based content are important.