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, suppose the indoor positioning system covers multiple rooms, a warehouse, several floors, or even several buildings. In that case, the complexity of the system and the amount of effort jump dramatically. The network planning and deployment may take days or weeks, depending on the complexity of the resulting indoor positioning network, skills, and other factors.
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At the same time, if you want to understand better how to build such sizeable 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 are:
Thus, for example, if the indoor positioning system used neutrinos that could go through the materials (walls, ceilings, people, machines) without interaction, we could have built GPS 2.0. But that is not the case yet. Thus, we have to consider the line of sight requirement and create maps consisting of submaps, like cellular networks are made 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 indoors 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 an indoor positioning system consists of two major stages:
1) First 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) 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- showing tracking in 1D, 2D, vertical 2D, and 3D tracking. This demo intends to show that different modes (1D, 2D, vertical 2D or 3D) may be optimal for different use cases. But the video also gives a visual idea of how things are done for the multi-room indoor positioning system.
3) Study the Operating Manual, its submaps feature in detail in 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, and 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 not convenient.
In any case, each submap’s service zones are 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 the location of mobile beacons coming from different submaps, and the system won’t know whom to trust. Service zones 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 are defined, and the handover zones are good.
3) Switch off the Realtime Player when you build the map of beacons. The Realtime Player makes tracking visually smooth and eliminates small jumps or omissions, but it works well when the track is already smooth and good enough. In 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 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 perfectly align in one point, but the submaps may not align with the angle. Thus, you must 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 easy to shift the first one, i.e., it is an iterative process. Using two hedges at once makes it much more manageable.
It is possible to do the same without M1/M2 at all. But it requires the hedge to move 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 moves 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.