Which indoor positioning technology is better? How to choose based on important points

By collecting data obtained from objects, data on the location and movement of people, and data from specific indoor locations such as factories and commercial facilities in real time, it is possible to create a variety of added value. For example, by analyzing the flow of people and linking it with digital signage installed at times and locations where people tend to concentrate, advertising can be optimized to increase the effectiveness of attracting customers.

And these require indoor positioning technology. Indoor positioning technology is a technology that allows you to determine your current location even in places where GPS (Global Positioning System) radio waves cannot reach, such as indoors or underground malls. In fact, there are multiple indoor positioning technologies, and the measures that can be taken will differ depending on which one is adopted. This article introduces important points to consider when adopting indoor positioning technology.

Which indoor positioning technology is better?  How to choose based on important points

table of contents

  1. Characteristics of various indoor positioning technologies
  2. Indoor positioning using beacons
  3. Indoor positioning using RFID
  4. Indoor positioning using ultrasound
  5. Indoor positioning using geomagnetism
  6. Indoor positioning using UWB
  7. Indoor positioning with Quuppa
  8. How to choose indoor positioning technology by point
  9. Point 1. Accuracy of indoor positioning
  10. Point 2. How to identify individuals
  11. Point 3. Ease of installing equipment (modules)
  12. Point 4. Introduction cost
  13. Point 5. Maintainability
  14. summary

Characteristics of various indoor positioning technologies

Indoor positioning using beacons

Beacon is a location identification technology that uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy/Near Field Wireless Technology). In familiar places, they are installed in large shopping malls such as Aeon Mall.

Since this is an indoor positioning technology that uses Bluetooth, it sends a signal to smartphones that have Bluetooth connectivity turned on, making it possible to send push notifications depending on the owner and location of the device. The effective radius of the signal is about 10 to 100 meters, and the error is 1 to 5 meters.

Accuracy is often reduced due to radio wave reflection and interference, so the location where the equipment is installed is important. Furthermore, by forming a mesh network of beacons, it is also possible to manage the battery level and status.

Indoor positioning using RFID

This is an indoor positioning technology that allows location to be determined by installing wireless communication tags using RFID (Radio Frequency IDentifier) ​​and reading the tags with a dedicated reader. There are two types of RFID: active type, in which the tag itself emits radio waves, and passive type, in which the tag does not emit radio waves but returns radio waves from the reader.

The communication range is wide, ranging from several centimeters to several tens of meters, and it is possible to read through things such as cardboard. In addition, tags can be extremely small, and passive tags are inexpensive and can be used to control a specific indoor area or the large amount of things that move in and out of that area.

Indoor positioning using ultrasound

By transmitting ultrasonic waves loaded with data from a dedicated speaker, the ultrasonic waves can be received by the microphone of a smartphone or other device that has the target app installed and used for positioning. All smartphones have a microphone, so the big advantage is that you can easily find a receiving device.

However, a power source is required to operate the ultrasonic transmitting speaker, and if there are obstacles such as walls, the ultrasonic waves will not reach the receiver, so there are strong restrictions on where they can be installed. Furthermore, since it is easily affected by the surrounding environment, accurate indoor positioning becomes difficult in spaces where other ultrasonic waves are flying around.

Indoor positioning using geomagnetism

This is a method for indoor positioning by receiving the magnetic field emitted by steel materials and iron materials in buildings with devices such as smartphones. Since the arrangement of steel in buildings does not change frequently, once the geomagnetic field is measured and converted into data, indoor location information can be efficiently obtained. In addition, the accuracy of indoor positioning is high, with an error of less than 2 meters.

However, if the measurement location is in an environment where trains and large vehicles frequently pass, indoor positioning tends to become difficult due to changes in the geomagnetic situation.

Indoor positioning using UWB

UWB signals emitted from at least two sensors installed at an interval of approximately 30 meters using UWB (Ultra Wide Band) wideband radio of approximately 8.5 GHz to 9.5 GHz. Indoor positioning is performed using the arrival time difference and angle of incidence.

Although it is expensive because it can only be received by tags that only use UWB reception, the accuracy of indoor positioning is extremely high, and the tag position can be determined with an error of 15 centimeters. Furthermore, since UWB uses short pulse signals, one of its advantages is that power consumption can be kept low.

Indoor positioning with Quuppa

Quuppa (Quuppa Intelligent Locating System) is a product of the Finnish company Quuppa, and is a technology based on Bluetooth. A receiver called a locator is installed on the ceiling, and a unique algorithm is used to determine the location based on the angle of incidence of radio waves from a dedicated tag or smartphone.

The communication range is a radial distance equivalent to the height of the ceiling where the locator is installed, and the accuracy is about 10 cm to 1 meter, so it maintains extremely high accuracy for indoor positioning.

How to choose indoor positioning technology by point

So, from among the indoor positioning technologies introduced above, how can we select the most suitable technology for each measure? Here we will introduce how to choose indoor positioning technology based on points.

Point 1. Accuracy of indoor positioning

UWB and Quuppa are effective in situations where high accuracy (low error) of indoor positioning is required, such as route optimization in warehouses and determining seating locations in offices. However, since UWB is limited to indoor positioning using dedicated tags, the latter can be said to be more flexible in terms of implementation flexibility.

Point 2. How to identify individuals

If you want to individually identify each object or person for which you want to obtain indoor location information, it is essential to select a technology other than ultrasound or geomagnetism. RFID is effective when managing the entry and exit of workers and the removal of goods when additional information such as status is required in addition to specifying indoor location and individual identification. If you want to visualize the movement of objects and people over a wider area, beacons and Quuppa are recommended.

Point 3. Ease of installing equipment (modules)

Beacons or geomagnetic devices are best suited for ease of equipment installation. Each type does not require a power supply, and is highly likely to be able to cope with situations where there are many shielding objects. Although beacons require a power source, they can be powered by batteries and consume very little power. In addition, if there are obstacles, you can install multiple beacons to cover them. Regarding geomagnetism, there is no need for a power source or transmitting equipment, so although it is necessary to prepare geomagnetic data, there is no need to install physical equipment.

Point 4. Introduction cost

Regarding the installation cost, geomagnetism, which does not require special equipment, and beacons, which have inexpensive equipment, are effective. However, beacons require a gateway for positioning over a wide area, which can increase costs in some cases. RFID has a low cost per tag, but in some cases a large number of tags are required, so the total implementation cost may be high.

Point 5. Maintainability

Indoor positioning requires continuous data collection, so it is important to have a long-lasting power supply and battery. Additionally, when equipment breaks down, repairs and replacements may be required. In this respect, geomagnetism, which does not require a power supply or batteries, is advantageous, followed by RFID, ultrasound, UWB, and Quuppa, which are easier to operate.


What do you think?

Indoor positioning technology is one of the technologies that is progressing day by day. Each has its own characteristics, so it is important to select the most appropriate technology at the current stage depending on the purpose. We hope that you will consider using the technology introduced here as a reference.


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