We regularly use GPS navigation technology in the car or outside but rarely do these systems perform well indoors. Weak signals and interference make it difficult to figure out which building you are in let alone the location of your desk.
Welcome to the world of Indoor Positioning Systems, or IPS. This relatively new technology can help you navigate the office and opens up opportunities for new innovative apps.
There are numerous approaches to Indoor Positioning Systems. You can find systems that utilise WiFi, Bluetooth and RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification Systems) or a combination of these wireless technologies. When evaluating IPS technology consider how you can minimise additional expensive infrastructure and reduce set-up costs. WiFi-based positioning is emerging as the simplest, lowest cost option because it takes advantage of existing infrastructure and there is usually no need for a site survey during set-up.
The latest WiFi-based IPS technology uses existing infrastructure to pinpoint devices without requiring any hardware calibration. An example is HP’s Cupid system which can identify any wireless-enabled device indoors with 2 metres of accuracy.
A WiFi access point transmits wireless signals in your office and WiFi-based IPS technology works by measuring the signal distance from multiple access points to calibrate a device’s position. For example, by knowing that a device is 3.6m from WiFi access point 1, 6.2m from access point 2 and 8.3m from access point 3 it can pinpoint the device location with accuracy. The access points each send data back to a “location server” and this server runs the algorithms and analytics to pinpoint the location.
IPS can enable physical security, asset tracking, networking management and smart buildings.
For example, if you know the exact location of a device you might decide to relax the security settings when it is in the office and tighten the security settings (or lock down the device) when it leaves the office.
In large offices you might decide to make it easier for staff to find a conference room, printers or roaming staff. You might also monitor the location of devices over a period of weeks or months and identify staff activity throughout the office.
IPS has lots of practical uses in the office and it is becoming an exciting emerging technology in industries such as retail, health and hospitality. If you are looking for ways to improve staff productivity or your customer’s experience then consider IPS as part of your IT roadmap for 2015.
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