Tag Archives: gps

What is Geomagnetic Indoor Positioning?

Thanks to Google and our smartphones, almost all users are aware of GPS or global positioning systems. With GPS, we can locate our position on a map displayed on our smartphones with an accuracy of about 200 m. This technology serves us well while traveling – when we have to reach a destination from our present location or when finding the best route between two locations. However, GPS is not a very suitable technology for either indoor use or when the smartphone is offline.

For instance, it is not easy to navigate successfully through a large shopping mall, a superstore, or an airport unless there are way-finding directions available. In fact, marketing research has pointed out that stores lose considerable business (nearly 15%) because customers are unable to locate their required products in the stores. In the US, customers spend about $500 billion annually, on personal care, groceries, and various sundries. Over time, adoption of indoor location and related initiatives could influence this indoor market by well over $10 billion.

Therefore, there are over several startups competing for attention in the emergent arena of indoor location and proximity marketing. Additionally, there are multiple technologies for bringing offline analytics and indoor location to malls, stores, sports stadiums and other venues. Although these technologies include LED lighting, inaudible sound waves, Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi, and Cameras, magnetic positioning leads the way.

All other technologies need installation of additional hardware and hence, involve additional expenses. In comparison, magnetic positioning makes use of the Earth’s magnetic field to enable the compass in the user’s smartphone to locate the individual precisely within indoor spaces. It does not require additional hardware and is compatible with almost all smartphones.

In nature, animals make use of the Earth’s magnetic field to locate themselves in relation to their destination. That is how migratory birds and fish return to their breeding grounds every year even when they are thousands of kilometers away. Smartphones are similarly capable of detecting and responding to magnetic field variations inside buildings.

According to IndoorAtlas, promoting and deploying magnetic positioning, each building or structure, with its reinforced concrete and steel structures, presents a unique magnetic fingerprint. This is based on the way the materials of the building affect and distort the Earth’s magnetic field. Once these patterns are precisely assigned to a building floor plan, users of smartphones can be located accurately inside indoor spaces such as airports, malls, hospitals, and retail stores. In short, this is like indoor GPS, and much more precise.

In comparison to GPS, geomagnetic indoor positioning is capable of 1-2 m accuracies in indoor environments. According to IndoorAtlas, mapping an area of roughly 25,000 square feet requires an hour to offer six-feet accuracy through sensors streaming data into a cloud storage. As a store or building interior is remodeled or changed in any way, the indoor maps are updated automatically using the sensor data.

Apart from tracking shopper location, geomagnetic indoor positioning offers direct blue-dot navigation to an area of product on the shelf or in an aisle. Therefore, customers are able to locate their desired products, bringing immediate benefits to the retailers.

Raspberry Pi accessories from Microstack

If you are looking for accessories for your tiny, credit card sized single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi, you now have a series of them from the distributer element14. This Microstack range of accessories allows all levels of users to create and prototype physical devices simply and quickly. Most popular among the Microstack accessories are the GPS positioning and accelerometer.

Microstack claims that its modules are the “building blocks for the Internet of Things for All”. The original designers of PiFace Digital and PiFace Control and Display accessories for the RBPi have come together to create Microstack. In fact, building on PiFace, Microstack now offers several types of connected-device possibilities for the RBPi.

Microstack offers a family of stacking accessory boards that a compact and reusable. They offer a common form factor, interface connections and software. All the accessories for the RBPi are built on a platform-specific baseboard called the adapter board.

The GPS module from Microstack is a simple and easy plug-and-play solution. You can use this module for projects requiring GPS positioning for creating geo-location awareness. The GPS module has several worthwhile features. Not only can the module log data in its standalone mode, it allows the RBPi to keep time in a highly accurate and globally synchronized manner. The Microstack GPS module is one of the most complete and advanced modules and it sports an embedded high sensitivity 15×15 mm internal patch antenna with an external socket.

The antenna switching function is automatic as the GPS module has antenna detection feature along with short circuit protection. For better sensitivity, the module has a built-in LNA. The advanced AGPS technology works with an intelligent controller of periodic mode that does not require any external memory. Microstack has provided LOCUS as an innate logger solution that works independently without host and external flash. The GPS module comes with anti-jamming features that sports Multi-tone Active Interference Canceller with 66 acquisition channels and 22 tracking channels. You can combine it with other Microstack add-ons to provide radio links for supporting remote telemetry.

The Accelerometer module from Microstack is also a simple plug-and-play device for the RBPi. It is useful where measuring acceleration is necessary for projects such as tracking and motion, game and tilt sensors and robotics. The module is based on MMA84910, a simple, low power, three-axis low-g accelerometer that offers multi-range 14-bit at +/- 8g resolution.

With a 1.95-3.6 V supply voltage range, the Accelerometer module consumes only 400 nA per Hz, but provides data at ultra-high speeds in about 700µS. Its 14-bit digital output has a sensitivity of 1 mg/LSB with a +/- 8g full-scale range. The Microstack framework compatible accelerometer module has 45° tilt outputs for its three axes and you can link it to your RBPi with the I2C interface.

You can use the Microstack modules as standalone or integrate them into full custom PCBs. Therefore, the modules provide a solution right from prototyping to production. These modules offer powerful building blocks that cut down on the development time with support software and easy installation.