How Does Indoor Positioning System Work?


For as long as we can remember, it has been important to know where we are in this world. In olden days we used maps and compasses to navigate, locate or to know our way around. Today we use GPS irrespective of the mode of transport- be it a car or a bike everyone uses GPS. GPS however turns out to be of no use when it comes to indoor tracking. This is because the signal coming from the satellite gets scattered and attenuated by the roofs and other objects. Even with the sensitive chips which are coming up, GPS fails to obtain high accuracy when it come to indoor tracking. 

An Indoor Position System (IPS) positions people or objects inside a building generally through mobile devices (smart phones) or tablets. IPS with the help of mobile devices (smart phones) tracks electromagnetic waves and other sensory information.

IPS relies on various technologies to obtain the desired accurate results. The following discussion is based on different kinds of Wireless IPS Technologies.

One such technology is the use of Beacons along with logical formulas and algorithms that work in the background. This technology with proper testing and analysis determines not only the direction but even the shortest path to the desired location.

With IPS, a great user experience can also be provided which is like cherry on the cake, user can have results which are both fast and accurate.

IPS technology mainly relies on three distinct elements: the main positioning system platform, the beacons at various position that broadcast signals which are tracked and received by the mobile devices which is then fed to the underlying positioning system, and then the apps which are integrated with the positioning system.

These apps, if built with proper planning, can serve many purposes and provide great user experience.

Another Wireless IPS technology which I believe will become the standard in the future is the WiFi positioning system or WiPS. This is because we already have the all the infrastructure for it and our mobile devices already support it. WiPS can accurately pinpoint your position using a method known as triangulation.

What this method basically does is that it calculates the distance from the user mobile device to a wireless access point. This only won’t only reveal the users location, but if the distance of three wireless access points from the user device can be determined a pretty accurate positioning and navigation can be obtained. 

Non-radio Technologies have the following two methods which are Magnetic Positioning and Inertial Measurements. Magnetic Positioning can offer the pedestrians with smart phones indoor positioning in the vicinity of 1-2 meters, this method makes no use of any additional wireless infrastructure. What this method does is record the magnetic variations in the Earth’s magnetic field which are caused by the iron inside the building. Un-optimized compass chips installed in smartphones is used for recording purposes.

IPS is a cutting-edge technology with great benefits. The above mentioned are only a few of the many innovative methods developed till now.

IPS with proper integration would not only help in locating objects or people indoor but it can also greatly benefit many businesses.

By making the smartphones location aware IPS can help retailer, hospitals and other companies to improve the experience of their product and services. Indoor positioning system opens up an undetected source of information for business; how people, things and places relate physically. Proper analysis allows companies to count the number of visits to a specific area, identify popular areas, and study the average time people spend in a specified area. IPS is only a part of wayfinding technology. Check out this ebook from JibeStream to learn more about the evolution of wayfinding technology.


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