An indoor GPS system for smartphones that can help users orientate themselves, when traditional mapping tools fail because of poor signal reception, has been unveiled by a firm called Cambridge Consultants.
The system is capable of determining a user's location inside a building with a degree of accuracy of one percent of the distance travelled, the firm claimed.
Such accuracy is a magnitude of order better than previous indoor systems, which typically use Wi-Fi signals to estimate location.
“It could be used to help locate firefighters in smoke-filled buildings, for example, or to pinpoint the closest doctor in a hospital during an emergency – or to track offenders during home curfews,” said Geoff Smithson, technology director, sensing systems, at Cambridge Consultants.
The Cambridge system uses a variety of data from a smartphone's onboard instrumentation, including the accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and pressure sensors to calculate where a user has travelled, in the event that the GPS signal is too weak.
It can then either display the information on the user's smartphone screen, or transmit the data to remote system.
"Our biggest challenges were developing an algorithm which optimally combines the data from GPS and the other sensors, and overcoming the issues of using such low-cost sensors in a system without any absolute location reference,” added Smithson.
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