Enrich Your IoT offering with location-based services
A reliable indoor presence and location tracking of individuals or assets in smart environments opens a vast amount of possible use cases, but it is limited by the capabilities of the currently used technologies such as GPS, BLE, PIR, WiFi, NFC.
GPS signal is not usable inside buildings, which makes it difficult to reliably determine the precise location of individuals using GPS alone. Other tracking methods such as Wi-Fi triangulation and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons are limited in their accuracy, especially in environments with dense walls, metal objects, or interference from other electronic devices. NFC is intended for near-range communication.
To address the occupancy detection, various sensors are used in smart homes and buildings, including affordable PIR motion sensors or door sensors. While these sensors are effective in detecting movement or changes in the environment, they can still present limitations in terms of accuracy and real-time tracking. PIR sensors, for example, detects presence indirectly via motion, and they can generate false positives and false negatives. Door sensors may not accurately reflect the movements of individuals in a space as there are many spurious situations. Additionally, they do not identify the person or object causing the detection. A camera, while being a very powerful sensor, raises a lot of questions related to privacy when installed indoors.
The Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology provides a solution to the difficulties of indoor presence and location tracking by offering high accuracy and real-time tracking capabilities. Unlike traditional tracking methods, UWB uses low-power radio waves to transmit data with high accuracy, making it possible to track individuals with an accuracy of 10cm indoors. Additionally, UWB technology does not require a line of sight and can penetrate walls and other obstructions, making it ideal for use in smart homes and buildings.
OBLO + UWB = Location-Aware IoT Platform
By integrating the UWB technology from leading semiconductor vendor NXP, OBLO extended the existing IoT platform with precise, secure indoor location tracking correlated within a logically partitioned environment to areas, zones, rooms, or floors.
The solution provides a tag-based location-tracking and identification solution. Beyond the ranging, it is merged into the core of the smart IoT platform to provide spatial context for wireless devices:
- In facilities, it considers the floorplan and derives contextual information (presence/absence, arrival/leave, moving/still, authorized/unauthorized) from raw ranging data and identity.
- Merges the location with metadata originating from additional sensors or services to provide further information (e.g. phone location + orientation in 3D space, easier commissioning, location-based GUI).
- Precise indoor location tracking to an accuracy of 10 cm
- Authorization of tags based on UWB security mechanisms
- Presence and activity detection
- Determining tag location in the given layout based on ranging information
- Generation of additional events derived from the spatial context and additional information
- Automation based on location and related events
- WiFi coexistence
- Anchors with OBLO’s WISE support as part of the fixed installationT
- Tags or mobile phones (iOS or Android* phones)
- OBLO IoT platform with WISE-enabled edge device (e.g. OBLO smart hub)
Integration into OBLO IoT platform
The integrated UWB technology makes the OBLO platform aware of the location, identity, and movement of tags and supported mobile phones in the area covered by anchors. The ranging data processing is happening on the edge, thus providing autonomy even in case of broadband connectivity failure.
The location-tracking related processing is hosted on the OBLO edge device (e.g. OBLO smart home hub). High-level contextual information is propagated to the cloud for more resource-demanding operations (storage and further processing). Additional business logic can be added to the edge device in a form of rules or smarts, or to the cloud as part of big data processing.
The tag is used only for determining the location of the object it is attached to. The system utilizes the location and identity information:
- Real-time asset and people tracking in a facility, storing data, triggering certain events in case of unexpected behavior
- Presence (absence) detection for energy savings – adapting the temperature (heating or cooling) and light level depending on if there is a person around (follow-me light in the warehouse)
- Intelligent home that maximizes the comfort by adapting the environment based on tenants location
- Activity or inactivity detection in assisted living
- Access control (lock/unlock when approaching the door)
While the OBLO platform is aware of the location of the phone in the system, the smart tags (e.g. mobile phones) can also know their location and can offer spatial-context-based behavior and services. Thus the platform can save time and simplify the control of devices by figuring out when and what data to show to the user based on the location. The location can be further enriched by merging with additional phone sensors (e.g. orientation on the map or in 3D space) for more use cases.
Some typical examples would be:
- Showing the specific control GUI for the device the user is pointing at
- Rendering audiovisual content in a museum related to the item in front of the user
- Showing diagnostic data related to the machine the worker is standing aside
- Indoor navigation in a shopping mall
- Alerting users in case of entering or staying a hazardous area, indoor navigation
- The location-aware technology is available to OBLO customers as an add-on feature to the IoT platform.
- The location tracking support is available on OBLO edge devices and OBLO mobile applications.
- A reference anchor implementation is available as a bundle of WISE connectivity module with UWB module.