Indoor GPS Tracking
Indoor GPS Tracker Technology Could Change Rescue Work
GPS trackers are small devices that receive satellite signals from space resulting in highly accurate positional data for their users. This locational data can be used for numerous applications related to personal safety from teen driving management to vehicle fleet management. It is also the reason why so many police departments, fire departments, ambulance companies, and other first responders all choose to equip automobiles with GPS tracking devices. With all of the positive things, GPS systems offer the technology itself still has some limitations. These limitations include signals from orbiting satellites being unable to go through concrete and different forms of metal. However, that may all change if the claims from a company called Cambridge Consultants are true about the development of a product that can determine the indoor location of a person and this is something that could be critical to saving lives in rescue situations.
GPS tracking devices have been evolving ever since consumer-grade versions of the units hit the market. Unfortunately, being able to determine with accuracy the position of an object or person indoors has been a hurdle GPS simply has struggled to clear. Looking to develop a solution capable of providing emergency personnel the ability to locate any person or asset located indoors, Cambridge Consultants has allegedly now accomplished that goal with a product that uses radio signals, ultra wideband sensors, and internal algorithms when GPS is no longer effective. Using power-efficient circuitry and affordable sensors, the tracking device would be able to transmit with accuracy it’s location inside almost any building or infrastructure. The new indoor GPS tracker was also manufactured to be small enough in size for a person to wear on their belt or inside of a pocket/purse.
Indoor Location Tracking
Tracking and Positioning
When asked about how the indoor GPS tracker could enhance safety, a rep for Cambridge Consultants explained how the tracking device could be utilized to help locate fire crews in smoke-filled homes or buildings. Indoor positioning technologies would make it easy to determine precise location in regards to indoor environments that could put first responders at risk. Abandon buildings and house fires can put firefighters in harm’s way, but even in conditions where smoke and confusion are prevalent, the indoor tracking technology could provide the information necessary to save lives.
Personal tracking devices that call upon Bluetooth low energy or Bluetooth beacons to determine positional data have been used in the past, but most of these tracking system solutions are using radiofrequency, weak GPS signal strength, or some form of Wi-Fi technology. However, with more smartphones being manufactured and global positioning technology advancing, many components have substantially dropped in cost. That means components such as pressure sensors, magnetometers, gyroscopes, cellular data modules, and other items can now be combined with existing technologies to create a cost-effective tracking solution capable of monitoring a person or object inside of a building. Most importantly, this form of real-time GPS tracking will be financially feasible for small businesses and families once it debuts on the consumer market. No timetable has been set when Cambridge Consultants will launch the new indoor GPS tracker, but there is no doubt if the GPS personal tracker indeed is capable of meeting the manufacturer claims that it will be a valuable tool. Hopefully, a tool that can boost safety and save lives.
Do GPS Trackers Work Indoors?
The answer is sort of because it really depends on a number of variables. GPS signals can’t penetrate metal or concrete, the two materials commonly found in most homes or businesses. However, if there are a lot of open windows and lines of sight to the sky it is very possible a GPS tracker will be able to work indoors. When a GPS device receives the signals from the global positioning system it can transmit that real time location. Unfortunately, GPS trackers tend to not operate very effectively indoors because of limiting factors of GPS location technologies.
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GPS Trackers Could Get Even More Accurate
GPS fleet management systems and personal tracking devices are some of the most accurate monitoring solutions on the market. When used in ideal conditions these GPS devices can routinely pinpoint the location of a person or object within roughly 2.5 meters. In fact, personal GPS devices can determine the exact house a person is in and vehicle tracking devices can show what parking space a car is occupying! There is no denying satellite technology has revolutionized the way many businesses operate and how families enhance personal safety measures, but GPS still has many limitations. For example, concrete and metal block low-level GPS signals which make it impossible to determine where a person is located inside of buildings and other infrastructure. However, that may all change if a company called InvenSense finalizes the development of a GPS solution that utilizes barometric chips in their indoor GPS tracking devices.
GPS tracker devices are highly accurate in outdoor environments where wide streets are present and urban canyons are not causing interference. The problem is that in major metropolitan areas, such as those commonly found in places such as New York, GPS can be substantially inaccurate. This accuracy only gets worse if the user is inside a building. Even with the limitations of GPS always being a hurdle, InvenSense plans on developing chips that will allow smartphones to navigate their users regardless of environment and conditions that cause GPS not to work.
What the technology company gave a sneak peek at the Consumer Electronics Show is a new form of monitoring solution that utilizes electronic barometers capable of detecting changes in altitude. In fact, these barometers will be so sensitive that the company stated they will be able to notice changes as small as a person standing up from a chair! But the most impressive thing is that trackers will be able to detect these minor movements in subway stations, inside buildings, and more. Through the combination of barometric chips capable of detecting the slightest changes in altitude with sensors that can monitor motion, the potential for this new technology is limitless. What is even more impressive is that developers believe that in time the technology will be accurate to the sub-meter and potentially be able to determine if a person is sitting or standing up!
Only time will tell if InvenSense will be able to follow through with their intriguing claims, but one thing is certain and that is if they are successful that the entire playing field for location-based services will have changed. Smartphones capable of guiding users through locations where GPS signals falter could open the door to a number of new applications and new levels of oversight.
Sage is a freelance writer with a background in information technology.