A basic indoor positioning system covering up to 1,000m2 of open space can be deployed in minutes. See the Unpacking video as an example.
Key points of the statement above:
However, if the indoor positioning system covers multiple rooms, or a warehouse, or several floors, or even several buildings, the complexity of the system and the amount of efforts jump dramatically. The network planning and deployment may take days or weeks, depending the complexity of the resulting indoor positioning network, skills and other factors.
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At the same time, if you want to better understand how to build such large indoor positioning systems, what is to be done and what to pay attention to, this article is for you.
When building an indoor positioning system, everything starts with and is driven by a couple of defining factors. The key ones:
Thus, for example, if the indoor positioning system would use neutrinos that can go through the materials (walls, ceilings, people, machines) without interaction, we could have build GPS 2.0. But that is not the case yet. Thus, we have to take the line of sight limitation into account and build maps consisting of submaps, like cellular networks are built out of cells.
As well as, if beacons had a larger range – hundreds of meters or kilometers – for large open spaces, the complexity of the indoor positioning networks would drop significantly. However, in practice, the limitation 1) – line of sight – is much stronger and even with very long range – more than 30m, for example – the main limitation for the real cases is the line of sight, because indoor there are not so many areas of such an open space where you could see a volume of open space of 30x30x30m or more, for example. There are always walls, shelves, columns, machines, cranes or similar obstructing objects.
There are other affecting factors, of course, for example: capacity requirements, easiness to deploy, etc. They are important, but, still, they are minor as compared to the ones listed above. Therefore, we will focus on the most important ones only.
Working with indoor positioning system consists of two major stages:
1) Fist of all and before going deeper into the subject, study the basics from the Placement Manual. There is even a slide about the multi-room indoor positioning system.
Since we will be discussing different architectures, familiarize yourself with the differences between IA, NIA and MF nia in the Architecture Comparison document.
2) Then, check the demo video to see how the multi-room tracking works in practice. The video covers a more complex scenario – multi-room plus multi-floor and is showing tracking in 1D, 2D, vertical 2D and 3D tracking. This demo intends to show that for different use cases different modes (1D, 2D, vertical 2D or 3D) may be optimal. But the video also gives a visual idea of how things are done for the multi-room indoor positioning system.
3) Study in detail the Operating Manual and the submaps feature in it.
5) Familiarize yourselves with the key terms:
Supermap (a roadmap item – not yet commercially available):
Mobile beacon = “hedgehog” or “hedge” or hedge
Stationary beacons – “owls” in IA
We have been contacted by one of our customers and we will be using his materials as an example for this and similar cases. With his permission, here are the Dashboard captures. Since this help to the customer is a work in progress, let’s first check the current status of the track and see advice below:
1) First of all, always build the maps in the following manner:
2) As soon as you have each submap working perfectly, showing good tracking, define the service zone for each of them. It is possible to build the service zones earlier – in the first step, but, often, there is not yet a clear picture of all submaps and building service zones for them is simply not convenient.
In any case, service zones of each submap is a must for large indoor positioning systems or large maps, as described above. Without defining the service zones, the system may easily become confused with too many opinions about location of mobile beacons coming from different submaps and the system won’t know whom to trust. Service zones basically manually help the system with that.
Build the handover zones properly. The example above is good with that, as far as we can see. Service zones defined and the handover zones are good.
3) Switch off the Realtime Player, when you just build the map of beacons. The Realtime Player makes tracking visually smooth and eliminates small jumps or omissions, but it works very well when the track is already smooth and good enough. At the beginning, it is better to use the raw location data and to see the problematic area clearly – before they are smoothed out with the Player.
The recommended and the easiest way to align submaps into a map is to do the following:
It is possible to do the same just with one mobile beacon, but it takes more time, because with one mobile beacon you can align in one point perfectly, but the submaps may be not aligned with the angle. Thus, you have to move to another point in the handover zone and check there. If jumping, the submaps are not aligned yet. The procedure must be repeated. However, while aligning the second point, it is very easy to shift the first one, i.e. it is an itterative process. Using two hedges at once make it much easier.
It is possible to do the same without M1/M2 at all. But it requires then the hedge is moving all the time between the submaps: entering the handover zone and leaving it. The submaps must be moved so that there will be no jumps between the submaps, when the hedge is moving into the handover zone and out.
The common mistakes are very basic and they cover 95% of difficulties that users have with the system. They are easy to avoid, but they are still happening.
Other 5% are very broad and wide and the list below shall be rather considered as a list of examples – to have the range and potential ideas where the mistake can found and fixed – then a clear guidance for fixing the mistake.
Placing 3 or 4 stationary beacons in a line won’t create a 3D submap. It will be a 2D submap, because, there is no surface and there no volume in the area defined by the beacons. It is a line close to the line. It will be a 2D submap. But by placing 3 or 4 stationary beacons in the submap, you tell the system to use a 3D mode. Tracking will be bad in this case.
Follow the Placement Manual and place the stationary beacons properly.