Increase IPS Accuracy with Ultrasound Positioning


When navigating real-time, the speed of the update interval is crucial for the user’s experience.  Imagine being at a convention center, looking for a specific booth. Even if the convention center is supported by indoor wayfinding and indoor positioning, a slow update interval can make it difficult to rely on the blue dot for real-time navigation. In busy convention centers where the indoor wayfinding relies on WiFi positioning, the update interval can be 20-40 seconds. As you can probably imagine, you can walk quite far in 40 seconds, so this means that if you rely entirely on the map, you might have already passed the booth you had been looking for before the blue dot on the map will be updated.

Today, most IPSs rely on GPS signals and device sensors, but in order to enhance the accuracy and the update interval in busy spaces such as convention centers, vendors can install Bluetooth beacons. A device can calculate its approximate distance to Bluetooth beacons by measuring the received signal strength. With this type of beacons, the general accuracy is around 2-4 meters, but new technology aims to change this: New bluetooth beacons that are fused with ultrasound emitters can enhance the accuracy of the installation. Sort of how a bat uses sound in the form of echolocation to navigate and find food in the dark, beacons with ultrasound technology enhances accuracy significantly. The microphones in for instance laptops or mobile phones can sample the high frequency tones in the ultrasound area that are inaudible to the human ear, and use them for very accurate indoor positioning. 

While Bluetooth beacons have an accuracy of 2-4 meters, the accuracy of beacons fused with ultrasound can get as low as 30 centimeters, which is a significant enhancement that ensures a much higher location precision. Another advantage of using ultrasound is that it is obstructed by barriers such as walls, doors, and windows. This further enhances accuracy as it will be easier to navigate through buildings with a lot of rooms, like a university building or a hospital, where it otherwise can be a bit ambiguous to figure out which side of a wall or door you’re supposed to navigate to. Like this, indoor wayfinding will be a lot more precise, and navigating around even complex buildings and venues will be easier and more efficient.

If you’re curious about IPSs and want to learn more about ultrasound as well as updates on other new technology, you can listen to our podcast, MapShack, in which our Solution Designer, Matti Jensen, talks about IPSs and the latest trends in the indoor positioning industry. 

Listen to podcast