CSR show SiRFstarV and SiRFusion for indoor positioning
Article by: Mike Barrett Date: 1 Mar 2012
For some time now we have been hearing that indoor GPS will be the next big breakthrough. Well calling it GPS is a bit of a misnomer, it is really Indoor Location: GPS will never work indoors. There have been a number of attempts to achieve this with varying success. Even at MWC there are a number of vendors showing or demonstrating Indoor Location.
Foremost in this field is CSR who merged with SiRF a few years ago. CSR were showing a hybrid solution to Indoor Location that will be capable of working on any SmartPhone with their latest chipset. Essentially this comprises hardware and software. The hardware is the SiRFStarV chipset, and the software is SiRFusion.
Continue reading to find out more about this technology and watch the videos of it in action.
The SiRFStarV chipset has been designed to 'sniff' a number of different radio signals from WiFi to Bluetooth, Cell to GPS, incorporating all the different flavours of GPS: NAVSTAR, GLONASS, Galileo, etc. Not only does it detect radio signals but it also has integrated movement sensors. These take over when the traditional radio signals are weak or non-existent. One of the sensors is a pressure sensor, which is so accurate it is able to determine the floor that you are on in a multi story Shopping Mall! The whole package has been designed with mobile in mind paying particular attention to the limitations of power and size.
The SiRFusion part of the package is a software component that allows the various radio signals and sensors to amalgamated, prioritised and fed into a backend server that is able to consolidate all the data and provide a very accurate location either indoors or outside. This software is able to provide realistic locations and discard any obvious invalid data. For instance a number of companies had brought their wireless access points from around the world. Some of the positioning systems that were working off WiFi managed to place the devices in Las Vegas, Boston, or London. SiRFusion has the intelligence to know that if you move from a strong GPS signal in Barcelona to a WiFi signal showing you to be in Las Vegas then that must be wrong!
At Mobile World Congress Kanwar Chadha took us through the technology and showed us a prototype of the SiRFStarV hardware running in a HTC Nexus phone providing location information to the Android system. We have two videos from MWC the first gives an overview of the technology, the second shows a 'throwaway' tracking device demonstrating the system in a practical manner.
That's interesting and I'm sure it's down to what is the definition/interpretation of ďworking indoors" is
My GPS [an 818x] works in my house [8 sats under the stairs!], works when I walk round ASDA [5 sats], works in my local big shopping centre [top floor, only 3 sats here,]
I admit itís sluggish indoors to say the least. I only tried it in strange/indoor locations because of it getting a lock from cold while still in my house and that surprised me that it could.
Iíve used GPS systems since the early 90s and this is the first device Iíve used that can do this, it is truly awesome, itís cold lock on time even after being turned of for a day, is never more than 10secs.
I real tests Iíve conducted the DGPS doesnít seem to make it anymore accurate for me.
I usually use the OSGBs old triangulation points [their special ones not just any one, they are supposed to be an accurate mark on the world.]
Note: I do not use the ground based augmentation system [DGPS] normally, that was just a one off accuracy test, so the fact it can track indoors is not that itís getting a better ground based signal as opposed to the weak sat ones.
Posted by MikeB on Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:49 am
To be honest I do not think that your GPS would be accurate indoors. I very much doubt it has the fix that it is claiming, and 'if' it can really see that number of satellites then that would be because of signal reflections.
GPS cannot be accurate unless it has a clear view of the sky. That is a scientific fact. That is also why these new positioning technologies are required if the use of indoor positioning is going to tai off.
The technology we are talking about here will be able to give you an accurate position deep inside a shopping mall or even at the bottom level of an underground parking complex. This is something that no GPS can ever do.
Posted by Murdoc on Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:47 am
I'm sure you're right, the accuracy will be out [I have no way of confirming this in the buildings I tried it in] and the movement is sluggish as I said.
I don't actually use it indoors it was just an experiment and a comment I guess to the articles turn of phrase and the fact reflected or not it does lock on big time from not being switch on for more than a day, even indoors.
The new technology will have endless uses, exciting.
Posted by lbendlin on Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:14 pm
I would not discard GPS just yet for indoor use, especially if there are any kinds of openings in the Faraday cage (windows, non-metal walls etc.). A few years back there was this craze of increasing the number of "channels" in consumer GPS devices, and both SiRF and MTK touted their ability to - rather than discard them - utilize the bounced signals from the sats, and improve the chances of getting a reasonable fix not just in urban canyons, but also indoors. So who knows - the SiRFV may have even more magic tricks up its sleeve to suck useful data out of stray GPS signals.
I work in a building that acts as a faraday cage and cant get a mobile signal unless I'm outside; it could also be that I'm not a fanboi with a varient of those smartphone thingies that I must have to make my life complete or on the wrong network.
I can see how this is useful for smartphone users say to find their car and for advertisers to spam targetted advertising. I'd still opt for getting better (GPS) accuracy though.....
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