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Future possibilities in location-based solutions

Various indoor positioning technologies are now being developed at a rapid pace. In this article, we present interesting application areas where indoor positioning holds significant potential.

Factory environments

 

As the pace of robotization accelerates, autonomous robots will also become more common in factory environments. If there are several robots, it is important to know where each one is at any given time. If one robot, for example, stops unexpectedly, the information must be quickly relayed to the other robots in order to avoid a collision and ensure that production still runs as efficiently as possible. In such a situation, edge computing can be used, whereby the location data is not sent far away to the cloud but instead is handled locally.

Besides efficiency, indoor positioning can help promote safety in factories, for instance, by employing solutions to calculate distances between objects. Such a system sends a warning if it detects that an autonomous machine is too close to people.

Factory environments can also make use of geofencing, which refers to the creation of a type of virtual fence. The system sounds an alarm if a designated tool or work vehicle leaves the factory area or is moved to the wrong location within the factory. Geofencing can prevent thefts and improve safety: for example, there may be areas inside the factory that, for safety reasons, work vehicles should not have access to, or explosive spaces where certain tools are prohibited.

 

Mining industry

 

Mining industry operations take place almost exclusively in environments where determining location is challenging.

Locating a machine or device in an underground mine requires very low frequencies that can penetrate the ground easily. With low frequencies, the phenomenon known as diffraction can also be utilized: the lower an electromagnetic wave’s frequency, the better the wave will bend, for example, around a corner. It is thus possible for a low-frequency wave to wind through a tunnel like a snake.

Of course, mining operations also take place aboveground, in open-pit mines. Due to their depth, open-pit mines can make satellite positioning difficult: of course, the sky can be seen from the bottom of the pit, but within such a small sector that it can make positioning difficult. For that reason, positioning in an open-pit mine is actually closer to indoor positioning than traditional satellite positioning.

 

Various public spaces

 

Cities contain countless public spaces for which a wide range of useful indoor positioning solutions will be developed in the future.

In shopping malls, both store owners and customers can make use of indoor positioning. Monitoring customers’ movements and behavior provides store owners with valuable information that can be used, for example, to develop the spaces and improve the customer experience. A solution that can make shopping easier for the customer is a shopping cart that contains a shopping list uploaded to the cloud in advance and which is used to guide the customer along the optimal route in the store.

Measuring the level of various containers in public places can be useful for many reasons. When it comes to garbage containers, measurements would allow the containers to be emptied at just the right time and garbage collection services to optimize their routes and schedules. Measuring the level of a container is a special brand of positioning in itself: one method for determining levels is ultrasound-based remote measurement using echoes.

Finally, when we move from inside buildings and containers to the outside, we find a nice application area for positioning in the increasingly common city bicycle. With geofencing, a virtual fence is created to keep shared-use bicycles within a defined area. If a bicycle user breaks the agreement and takes the bicycle outside the defined area, the system is immediately informed.

Jani Vauto

Jani Vauto

Director, Wireless Solutions
+358 46 851 5965
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Jani Vauto
Jani Vauto
Director, Wireless Solutions